For many people who feel like they don’t have enough time to train, the morning is still the best time of day to do so. For others, it’s more of a good way to wake up or lose weight by exercising on an empty stomach.
However, even if it is true that the body has an unparalleled ability to adapt and that diet plays an important role in the choice of the energy substrate used during exercise, when we talk about weight loss, the training on an empty stomach is not a miracle.
Why talk about fasting ?
The main interest of those who practice fasting is to promote the use of fat for energy rather than carbohydrates. This may be relevant in preparing for an endurance event such as a marathon, where carbohydrate (glycogen) stores are depleted.
However, when it comes to training on an empty stomach for weight loss, here are a few things to watch out for:
- Since training on an empty stomach in the morning means that the last food intake was the day before, energy reserves (muscle and liver glycogen) are therefore reduced.
- One of the risks associated with this practice, during high intensity exercise, is “hitting a wall” which results in severe muscle pain and inability to continue training. Not so interesting!
- You have not eaten since the day before, you have arrived after an hour of racing and you are in front of your pantry. What is happening? The typical scenario is that you eat whatever comes to hand because you are too hungry! If your initial goal is to lose weight but you end up eating more when you return from that workout on an empty stomach than if you had a more reasonable breakfast, you are not a winner!
If, despite everything, you train on an empty stomach and it works for you, great! However, remember to:
- Stay hydrated before training.
- Bring a homemade sports drink, fruit purée or dried fruit with you in case energy levels get too low.
- Eat a full breakfast on your return to replenish your energy reserves and recover well.
Either way, don’t forget to listen to your body!