One of the most asked questions around exercise is whether we should work out on an empty stomach and if so, is it more beneficial for us?
Before we dive into the detail, the easiest way to answer this question is to say that it must work for you and your routine. For many of you reading this, we imagine skipping breakfast in favour of a workout isn’t the most appealing thought… but hear us out!
Here are our considerations and the benefits of fasted cardio:
Does it fit your lifestyle?
When people talk about working out on an empty stomach or ‘fasted exercise’, you may automatically assume that this means exercise is the first thing you do after waking up. However, fasted exercise can be interpreted as any physical activity after at least four hours since any calories were consumed.
While the morning tends to be the most convenient time for fasted exercise, it’s still possible if you aren’t a morning person, as long as it works for you.
It can help burn body fat
When you read about fasted exercise, one of the first things that’s often mentioned is its ability to burn more fat… and it’s true! Some studies suggest that you may burn up to 20% more fat when exercising on an empty stomach.
Interestingly, while you burn more fat, you don’t burn more calories. Increased fat burning is achieved by changing the source of where the calories are burned.
However, unfortunately, it’s not the miracle cure for losing body fat or reducing your body fat percentage. Even though fasted cardio can burn a higher percentage of calories from fat, it doesn’t contribute to greater fat loss or positive changes in body composition long term. This is supported by research that showed fat loss and body composition changes were the same whether cardio exercise is in a fed or fasted state.
It can cleverly help with weight loss and boost your energy
While fasted exercise doesn’t mean you burn more calories, some studies suggest that exercising on an empty stomach can mean you consume fewer calories throughout the day. As we know, weight loss is achieved by burning more calories than you’re putting in (calorie deficit) and if you’re eating less, this is likely to contribute to weight loss.
Furthermore, with the majority of fasted exercise workouts being in the morning, people often say that it gives them a great energy boost throughout the day.
Should you work out on an empty stomach?
While fasted exercise does come with several scientifically proven benefits, it isn’t going to make a significant difference to you achieving your goals. If you’re able to accommodate it during your day then it’s worth giving it a try and starting with steady exercise to begin with.
However, the most important thing is being active in the first place. Any type of physical activity is excellent for your mind and body and it’s about finding what works best for you. If a workout on an empty stomach isn’t for you then don’t worry, you can still achieve your goals by establishing a workout routine that suits your lifestyle.