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Fitness Myth Busted: Empty Stomach, Exercise, and Fat Burned

It may seem somewhat logical that your body would burn more fat as fuel when you exercise on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. In fact, it just isn't true. The body needs fuel to work out, and that fuel is glucose, which comes from carbs.

After a full night's rest, your muscles' supply of glycogen, which is stored glucose, is greatly depleted. Not only do your muscles run on glucose, but so does your brain. Working out on an empty stomach can impair both muscle function and some brain function as well, and exercising with a fuzzy head in the early morning can lead to injuries.

The simplest way to fuel your body and feed your muscles before hitting the road, elliptical, or weights is a light carb snack. Try an easily digestible banana, or just half of the fruit and save the other half for your post-workout smoothie. Another good pre-workout snack would be some yogurt or a small amount of cereal with milk. I have found a simple rice cake works wonders before a 6 a.m. spin class.


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VeeKeeTee VeeKeeTee 8 years
i make spinach banana smoothie with protein powder i often get "that's gross" from people, but it's actually quite delicious
ziggy101 ziggy101 8 years
bellabunny> for my morning yoga, I normally take nothing and for the evening yoga, I normally leave 3-4 hours after meals. You don't want to unbalance yourself with food in your stomach whilst doing your headstands ; ) (some water is alright before or during yoga, but you must drink a lot of water after yoga to flush away your toxins from the workout !)
ziggy101 ziggy101 8 years
except for morning yoga (which is to be done with an empty stomach, you can drink some water or maybe a banana), I normally always eat a light meal (like cereals) before any workout, be it swimming, running or hitting the gym (I need the fuel to burn during my workouts)
bellabunny bellabunny 8 years
What about eating before yoga? I've heard its best to wait at least 2-3 hours after eating, but if I want to do it right after I wake up I'm not sure whether to eat something first or not.
mocha7 mocha7 8 years
Great advice! I never knew that! I thought it was the other way around,in the burning calories department. I'm gonna start snacking right before my workout and stop feeling so guilty!
runningesq runningesq 8 years
I'll suck down a GU if I have a long run in the am
insanitypepper insanitypepper 8 years
I can't have eaten anything for hours before I do cardio, otherwise I also get those mean abdominal cramps. So running first thing in the morning before eating anything works best for me. Thankfully (?) I have a little extra glucose in my blood first thing in the morning to use up.
Kimpossible Kimpossible 8 years
I eat an hour before I work out and it's worked well for me in my fitness journey.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
I can't eat before working out either...having food in my stomach makes me feel nauseous and I don't think I'm getting the best workout. Your muscles and brain do indeed run on glucose, but let's not forget that eating a snack is not the only source of glucose available to the body...your body breaks down stored fat and glycogen into glucose if your blood sugar is just takes a little longer than if you eat it just beforehand.
gothamgal gothamgal 8 years
I can't eat anything before a workout. I have finally learned to listen to my body and how I feel before I adhere to advice with which I don't feel comfortable.
urban-chic-101 urban-chic-101 8 years
I eat something small... nothing too much or holy pukiness!
MrsRachel MrsRachel 8 years
Ugg, I hate working out with food in my many others, it makes me want/have to puke. Not pleasant. If I eat a couple of hours before hand it isn't too bad, but that's hard to do when I start my day about six am.
fleurfairy fleurfairy 8 years
I have to exercise on an empty stomach. I can't even drink when I exercise or I get a major abdomenal cramp. It's so painful.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 8 years
I have to eat before a workout, but it's gotta be about an hour or so before or I feel ill, unless it's a banana, which don't bother me for some reason.
jueycruiser jueycruiser 8 years
I just cant eat before I work out, regardless of how wonderful it is for me. When i have anything in my stomach, halfway through my workout I'm keeping myself from throwing up in my mouth, then I have to stop. Its a logistical nightmare
danni2009 danni2009 8 years
I never work out without eating first. I just cannot do it.
littlekaren littlekaren 8 years
Funny, I went jogging yesterday at 6:30 am, and halfway up a hill I realized I forgot to eat anything. I could tell I had less energy and didn't do as well as usual in my distance... Sad to think I burned less fat because I forgot to eat.
bigestivediscuit bigestivediscuit 8 years
I always eat before I exercise otherwise I faint! Yogurt or a granola bar works best for me.
mamasitamalita mamasitamalita 8 years
if I eat and then work out I feel like vomiting. plus, wasn't there some article on here back this winter that said eating after you work out detracts from losing weight? I'm so confused with all this advice! :-/
prettywriter prettywriter 8 years
I was just wondering about this as I went for a jog this morning. Halfway through, my stomach started to rumble a little - next time, I'll know to eat a little something first.
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