True 180 Personal Training | Ballantyne Personal Training Q and A: Is It Ok to Workout on an Empty Stomach

Ballantyne Personal Training Q and A: Is It Ok to Workout on an Empty Stomach

Have you ever wondered if it’s ok to workout without eating? We get asked this often and wanted to share.

Q: Is it OK to workout on an empty stomach? 

I work out in the morning and don’t have time to eat breakfast before I workout.  Is that OK? Will I lose muscle?

A: It is totally fine to workout on an empty stomach for many reasons.

·     Working out with a stomach full of food doesn’t feel that good for most people, and it will divert resources to digestion that would be better used for your workout… in other words you will be able to train harder without feeling nauseous if you train with an empty stomach.

·     It takes about 60 hours without food before your body will turn to your muscles for energy.  So, if it is Wednesday and you at least had dinner on Monday, then your muscles will be safe.

·     The human body contains about 125,000 calories, and if you crush yourself in the gym you’ll be lucky to burn 700 in an hour… so, you will be totally fine.

·     It takes 3-5 hours for the stomach to empty, and then some time after that for your body to have digested enough of your food to extract energy from it. In other words the breakfast you eat at 7am will not be available for your muscles for your 9am workout.

·     The fewer meals you eat per day the fewer calories you will consume.  Weight loss is about calories in vs. calories out. So, not forcing yourself to wake up early and eat an extra meal before you workout will let you get more sleep and make it a little easier to eat less.  That is a win-win!
When it comes to the amount of muscle mass you have/don’t have will be a combination of consistent and sufficient (enough intensity and enough volume) resistance training + enough protein.  Training on an empty stomach with adequate protein will yield good results, and training on a full tummy with poor protein intake will yield poor results. 

Why care about how much muscle you have?  To be toned looking there has to be something under the fat to reveal. Our resting metabolism is mostly determined by the amount of muscle mass we have.  The number of calories you can burn during exercise is a function of how much muscle mass you have.  Your ability to regulate your blood sugar levels (prevent or manage diabetes) is largely a function of how much muscle mass you have.  The list could be a lot longer, but these are some really good reasons.

So next time you are running late and worried about eating before your workout, now you know 🙂

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