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Can I Exercise On An Empty Stomach?

By Dixit Arora +2 more

Most of us who like to exercise first thing in the morning always wonder whether we should first have breakfast, or catch up with it later? It’s often recommended that you work out first thing in the morning before eating breakfast, as it is believed to help with weight loss. However, exercising after eating may give you more energy and improve your performance.  

Does exercising on an empty stomach help you lose more weight?

The theory is that your body feeds on fat and carbohydrates which is stored in your body for energy instead of the food you’ve recently eaten, leading to higher levels of fat loss. Working out on an empty stomach would direct your body to use the stored-up protein as fuel rather than using it to build and repair muscles after exercise.  

Also, if your body uses stored fat as energy, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are going to burn more calories or reduce your body fat percentage. This is because your body will adjust itself to using fat reserves for energy and might continue to store more fat than usual to make up for it.

Is it safe to work out on an empty stomach?  

Some research does support working out on an empty stomach however, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the ideal way. When you exercise on an empty stomach, you may burn valuable energy sources (proteins) and have less stamina.  

You will not only feel intense hunger but your stomach can also cramp. Sometimes, your blood sugar levels may drop and leave you feeling lightheaded, nauseous, dizzy or shaky.  

Which foods will help you improve your performance?

Working out requires you to follow a well-balanced diet to improve your performance. Choose food that is natural and nutritious, eat fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Add nuts, seeds and sprouts which are a rich source of iron.    

If you do decide to work out after eating, choose a meal that can be digested easily and is rich in carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Eat your meal at least 2-3 hours before your planned workout. If you’re pressed for time, munch on an energy bar or fresh/ dried fruit.  

A post-workout meal is equally important to improve and speed up recovery. Have a meal that is rich in carbohydrates, fats and proteins within 30 minutes to 2 hours after a workout. You can choose from options that include soymilk, smoothies, sandwich, energy bar, yoghurt, etc.    

Don’t forget to drink plenty of water before, during and after your exercise.

It’s often recommended that you work out first thing in the morning before eating breakfast, in what’s known as a fasted state. This is believed to help with weight loss. However, working out after eating may give you more energy and improve your performance.

Dr. M.G. Kartheeka, MBBS, MD

Also Read: Food For Upset Stomach: A Research-Based Guide To Soothing Foods

Which foods will help you improv

When should you eat?

Depending on the type of activity, you can determine whether you should eat before a workout or not. Light exercises such as yoga and walking may not require you to fuel up beforehand.  

However, it’s essential that you eat before any activity that requires a lot of strength, energy and endurance, or even if you plan to work out for over an hour. These activities could include swimming or running.  

Foods with a high-fibre, high-fat content, fast food or energy drink are not recommended to be consumed for at least one hour before the workout as they hinder an effective workout and make the person more full.

Dr. Ashish Bajaj, M.B.B.S., M.D.

How should you plan your meals?

To get the most out of your next workout activity, prepare by eating foods that will provide the best fuel for your body.

Foods such as Complex carbohydrates like high-protein oatmeal or homemade granola will arm you with plenty of energy to get through your next aerobic routine. Also, lean protein, like nuts and nut butter, is great for sustaining your system and keeping you full while you work out.  

Schedule your pre-exercise meal about 90 minutes before your exercise. Always have an option for foods that are light and easy to digest, like fresh fruit, an energy bar, juice or a smoothie in case you need a snack closer to your workout time.

Having food in your stomach before you start working out not only makes your workout more fun but will also help you build and sustain muscle mass to achieve the optimal results you admire.  

You are your own best guide, so listen to your body and do what is best for you and your body. Be happy, stay hydrated, maintain a balanced diet and live a lifestyle in line with your best health interests. Remember to always talk to your family physician/ doctor/ nutritionist before starting any new exercise program.

Also Read: What is the Best Time to Exercise?

Disclaimer: The above information has been prepared by a qualified medical professional and may not represent the practices followed universally. The suggestions listed in this article constitute relatively common advice given to patients, and since every patient is different, you are advised to consult your physician, if in doubt, before acting upon this information. Lupin Limited has only facilitated the distribution of this information to you in the interest of patient education and welfare.  

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