Is it beneficial (or safe) to workout on an empty stomach?

Watch this.

Would fasting before a workout help Fat Bastard?So, for as long as I can remember, I have always been advised that in order to have a good workout, you must eat before and after. However, this morning when I accidentally caught some of the Marilyn Denis Show (usually boring; don’t really like it), I happened to catch this segment that focused on not gaining weight during the holidays.

First, it annoyed me given my post the other day about enjoying the holidays and not stressing about it. Seriously? 17% more fat? Who cares. And besides, I already know how miserable I feel if I haven’t had enough before a long run or workout – HEADACHE city! But second, it contradicted everything I knew to be true on fuelling up before a workout. So obviously, it prompted me to start the research from both perspectives. I checked out the Livestrong site because they usually have pretty good info. Here is what they said:

“Exercising on an empty stomach may not appeal to everyone, but it seems to have some positive effects on fat burning. If you don’t load up on carbohydrates for quick energy before a workout, it makes sense that you would be pulling energy from your fat stores. Still, the approach is a little controversial and the jury is still out on whether it actually benefits athletic performance.” That’s good enough for me and I could have stopped there but I thought I might as well keep going to see ALL sides.

The site also touched on training low, competing high, which refers to the idea of doing some workouts in a carbohydrate-depleted state, then racing or competing with a full supply of carbohydrates. Initial research claims that this technique enhances fat-burning and other metabolic responses. 

Here are the advantages and disadvantages as I’ve found online:

ADVANTAGES:

  • It can prevent weight gain
  • It can maintain insulin sensitivity
  • A study published in the November 2010 “Journal of Physiology” found that exercising before breakfast has a protective effect on a bad diet.

DISADVANTAGES:

  • You can’t train as hard or fast without having more fuel to rely on.
  • It’s possible that you could increase your risk of illness or injury by exercising in a depleted state.
  • Exercise on an empty stomach can increase the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which can lead to the breakdown of muscle tissue.
  • If you don’t have enough energy to make it through the work out, what’s the point?

Finally, after consulting the crazy body building forums to see what the real muscly people have to say, it seems that they’ve tried both and haven’t seen much of a difference in either.

What do you think?

YES – This is a great idea! Fast, fast, fast and feel the burn. vs. NO! Are you high? This is a terrible idea!

Personally, I’d be willing to try it but I feel confident in saying that since running is a real mental game for me, I’d probably convince myself that I don’t have enough fuel to run, and then quit – which would defeat the purpose!

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