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Workout Tips

This section of our health library is devoted to – you guessed it – workout tips! Learn about all things fitness in these articles that are designed to help you get up and get moving, regardless of your physical ability.

Should You be Going to the Gym on an Empty Stomach?

To accommodate demanding workouts, filling the stomach with food would seem to be the best practice to sustain energy levels. However, gym-goers and health experts are becoming more interested in fasted workouts. Should you be going to the gym on an empty stomach?

Should You be Going to the Gym on an Empty Stomach?


Food is the fuel to power our bodies throughout day-to-day functions. Whenever energy is low, we grab foods to refill our body's fuel tank. To accommodate demanding workouts, filling the stomach with food would seem to be the best practice to sustain energy levels. However, gym-goers and health experts are becoming more interested in fasted workouts. Should you be going to the gym on an empty stomach?

Exercising on Empty

Working out on an empty stomach is essentially working out while fasting. Additionally, the practice of intermittent fasting (IF) has become a popularized weight loss approach. IF is an eating pattern with bouts of feasting and fasting, generally for longer periods of time. But is exercising in this state truly a weight loss fast track? Crossing over that finish line varies among health experts.

The popularization of fasted exercise has grown exponentially among researchers and exercisers, especially in hopes to accelerate muscle growth and weight loss. When the body is in a fasted state, the last food intake was at least six to eight hours prior, where some individuals intentionally fast for more than a day's worth of time. Under these conditions, the body is absent of its primary energy source (glucose from carbohydrates) and starts to burn fat as fuel. In theory, the practice itself should result to effective fat loss. Add in a workout, and energy and fat burn should be at its highest peak. Running parallel with the principle, research does show fasting can result to weight loss while maintaining muscle mass.

Unfortunately, there is still grey area despite validated research regarding positive links between IF and weight loss. The mechanism still needs a little more consideration. When the body is short of glycogen (stored carbohydrate), the body is forced to seek out an alternative energy source. Besides fat stores, muscle mass may get tapped into for an energy supply. Although fat loss may result from fasting, the breakdown of muscle can also follow.

So, Is It Better to Eat Before or After a Workout?

Eating before or after workouts have entirely different meanings: pre-workout meals help to fuel workouts while post-workout meals aid in the recovery of the workout completed. Though individuals commonly agree to eat following a workout, eating before a workout has some arguments and inconsistencies.

Although the research and suggestions may seem like a never ending track course, the finish line can be thought of as a different racer with varying exertions, lengths, and pavements. Essentially, each racer is unique and recommendations should be individualized, as some athletes swear by intermittent fasting while others would not pass up a pre-workout meal or snack. Ultimately, individuals practice different training regimens but can still cross the finish line. Equally as essential, stay in tune with your body and do not ignore extreme weakness and lightheadedness. Potential weight loss should not cover up potentially harmful consequences!

Reference:
Simmons A. The scientific evidence surrounding intermittent fasting. EAS Academy. Available at: http://easacademy.org/trainer-resources/article/intermittent-fasting

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