Is exercising on an empty stomach safe? Here’s what you need to know


Due to its recent popularity, exercising on an empty stomach has become a popular way to get the fastest fat loss solutions, and many also prefer intermittent fasting . Exercising on an empty stomach has garnered a lot of attention due to its role in rapid weight loss and improved athletic performance, in addition to its other potential health benefits. But could exercising on an empty stomach after a restful night’s rest – possibly 10-14 hours after dinner the night before – really have enough benefits that it doesn’t require eating a nutrient-dense meal before exercise?

What are the benefits of exercising on an empty stomach?

Exercising on an empty stomach Direct entry into morning exercises on an empty stomach. Research indicates that doing morning exercises before breakfast leads to the use of fat energy stored in the body instead of that coming through eating due to reduced glycogen and insulin levels. After eating a meal, the pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that allows the body to use sugar (glucose) from carbohydrates for energy. Unused glucose (glycogen) is stored in the body for later use. The theory behind ditching a pre-workout meal is that when carbohydrates are not burned for energy, the fats stored in the body will be used instead, thus speeding up the potential for weight loss.

One study focused on the role of exercising on an empty stomach in reducing energy intake over a 24-hour period of a group of 12 active males. Energy consumption is the number of calories consumed in a day. In addition to reduced calorie consumption, the study also showed increased fat oxidation during exercise. This indicates that the potential benefits of weight loss and its proper management can be accessed through fasting. 

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Another study focused on the metabolic modifications beneficial for exercising on an empty stomach. This study separated 20 young men into two groups: one fasting and the other fed a diet rich in carbohydrates. Within the 6-week endurance training program, the fasting group was able to increase exercise intensity and were more effective than the fed group in terms of increasing muscle oxidative capacity while promoting intracellular lipolysis. This is important in terms of energy use by working muscles during exercise.

What are the disadvantages of fasting before exercise?

If you exercise on an empty stomach for a long time, the stress on the body increases, the amounts of energy produced may decrease, and this can lead to potential health risks. When not eating a healthy pre-workout meal or snack, the body has fallen into a state of food indebtedness, so to speak. This may lead to episodes of dizziness, weakness, fatigue, or fainting.

Intermittent fasting regularly over time, if done without adequate balance for daily nutritional needs, can also weaken muscles and slow down the metabolism. Dramatically restricting calories and beneficial nutrients when exercising regularly may increase or worsen irregular eating patterns, increase vitamin deficiencies, lower immune system functioning, cause overtraining syndrome, or lead to other health conditions.

Exercising on an empty stomach or intermittent fasting is not considered safe for people with the following conditions or factors:

  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Diabetes or hypoglycemia
  • Eating disorders
  • Users of medicines that should be taken with food
  • Low in electrolytes or who are dehydrated
  • Yen exercise late in the day
  • Children, teenagers and people over the age of 55
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Although there are many studies indicating that fasting has its health benefits, there are studies that indicate that there is no difference between the benefits of exercising on an empty or full stomach. One study also focused on changes in fat mass and lean mass in young females who practiced aerobic exercise on an empty stomach and who exercised on a shabby stomach. While both groups lost a significant amount of weight, the study conclusions showed no significant difference between the conditions or measurements of the two groups.

What are the benefits of eating before and after exercise?

An hour or two before exercise, consuming a regular meal or snack rich in protein and carbohydrates is important in terms of balancing blood sugar levels and boosting energy for exercise. Especially as the intensity or duration of exercises increases. This can prevent one’s energy from running out in the middle or after a workout. Restricting calories for an extended period of time can also lead to an excessive intake of daily calories, thus destroying many fasting goals.

Whether the exercises are done on an empty or saturated stomach, there is an important issue that should not be forgotten and that is post-workout and it is very important. Post-workout excess oxygen consumption (EPOC) usually occurs within an hour of exercise when the body is in dire need of oxygen and adenosine triphosphate (ATP). What this means is that the body is in a state of recovery but continues to burn calories and use up energy. Replenishing the body by providing it with regular meals or snacks or nutritional supplements containing protein is important in terms of helping it rebuild muscles, balance blood sugar, recover healthy nutrients and increase energy throughout the day. 

How to manage healthy food intake and exercise

Whether one chooses to fast or eat before exercise, it is essential to maintain adequate daily calories with a balanced diet of healthy proteins, carbohydrates and healthy fats.

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Pre-Workout Power Supply Options

  • Banana
  • A green apple with a tablespoon of nut butter
  • A toasted slice of wholegrain bread with half an avocado
  • A bowl of whole grains of legumes
  • A bowl of oatmeal

Post-exercise power supply options:

  • Protein shake
  • Protein bar
  • Omelet
  • White cheese with fruits
  • Chocolate milk

There are many ways and means of exercising on an empty stomach that promote safe weight loss exercise and lead to improved athletic performance with a balanced nutrition program throughout the day. However, not everyone will benefit from exercising on an empty stomach if the exercise is very intense or prolonged. It may also pose a health risk for people with certain health conditions and those who do not continue to balance their caloric and nutritional needs. Consult a doctor for more information before exercising on an empty stomach.

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