Is It Better to Exercise on an Empty Stomach?

14 Aug

Everyone that goes to the gym is seeking to do the best thing for their bodies. However, figuring out what that is and how to go about can sometimes yield mixed results. One of the most common questions is when the best time to exercise is – after a meal or on an empty stomach?

Exercising on an empty stomach

According to recent research, going to the gym on an empty stomach may be just the thing needed to help you jumpstart your metabolism. According to the science, when you exercise on an empty stomach, the adipose tissue (AKA your fat stores) are activated which leads to increased gene expression. Specifically, two genes were affected (PDK4 and HSL). But how was this tested and what was the outcome? And how should it affect your gym plan?

How was this tested?

The effect of exercise on an empty stomach was tested by taking samples from men at the gym. This small group of overweight men was told to walk at roughly 60% of their maximum oxygen intake for an hour (60 minutes) in the morning. Half of the overweight men walked at the gym with an empty stomach and the other half was fed a carb heavy meal two hours before they walked. They tested each group’s fat stores (adipose tissue) by taking samples an hour before exercising at the gym and then again an hour afterwards. Looking at them under the microscope, they were able to determine how each subject’s tissue reacted and what genes were affected. They also were able to compare the samples to each other under similar circumstances.

What was the outcome?

After going to the gym and testing the adipose tissue (fat) of both the fasting and non-fasting group of overweight men, the research showed that two genes (as stated above : PDK4 and HSL) showed an increase in the way that that the gene expression activated the fat. More fat was burned while the subject used the gym on an empty stomach, increasing metabolism. The upside to working out on an empty stomach is that you will actually burn more fat versus working out even hours after a meal. One thing to consider is that, over longer periods of time, while the metabolism is boosted a lack of food may lead to a hypoglycemic state which can make you actually lose energy or even faint. It’s important to plan your workout appropriately so that this doesn’t happen. Moderate exercise is best, especially when starting out exercising on an empty stomach, so that you can be aware of how your body will react and you can plan appropriately.

When trying to increase your health and wellness, consider working out on an empty stomach versus after a meal. Hit the gym during this time to increase your metabolism and fat burning ability as well as burning more calories for less effort! Make sure to exercise caution when starting, however, as everyone’s body reacts differently to changes in their health.