I’m sure many of you have heard how running on an empty stomach really helps with fat burn. However, there are so many opinions and debates regarding this topic that it even made me confused as to what’s right or not. Some people say that running before a meal has helped them, while others recommend the eat before exercising.
So what’s the right one?
Even as I did the research, I saw that there were different views, so I looked upon the myths and studies to find the right answer. If you want to see if running on an empty stomach is right for you or not, then read on! I’ll show you all the information you need to know and help you decide what your routine should be.
Is Running on an Empty Stomach Good or Bad?
There are actually different running myths on running with an empty stomach, so let’s debunk them:
It Can Lead to Muscle Loss
Many people believe that when you workout first thing in the morning without breakfast, you lose muscle. But actually, your muscles don’t disappear immediately simply because of that.
People wrongly assume that if you don’t eat, your body won’t have enough carbs and sugar to exercise. As a result, in theory, it forces your body to break down any muscle protein to obtain the required energy during your run, losing muscle in the process.
BUT, this isn’t completely accurate. Your body would store glucose, known as glycogen, inside your muscles and liver. Throughout the night, your insulin levels and liver glucose will decrease but still keep the muscle glycogen storage.
So as you begin your morning run, your body gets energy from glycogen form your muscles. However, as you continue your run, your glycogen stores deplete in time. As a result, your body begins to resort to getting fuel from free fatty acids.
Now if you continue to make your workout more intense or longer, your body will then break down muscle proteins. That’s the only time you have the risk of losing muscle. But by that time, you’ve probably already finished your run, so you don’t have to worry about losing muscle.
It’s the Best Weight Loss Method
People always comment about how running on an empty stomach has helped burn fat and weight amazingly. Like I said, working out can have you burn and use free fatty acid for energy. BUT, this doesn’t mean you’ll lose weight.
It actually all boils down to how much you eat more so of when you eat. So what matters most is your energy balance and the number of calories you consume.
If you burn more calories than you eat, then you can lose weight. If you don’t, then it ends up with weight maintenance or gains. BUT, people do recommend high-intensity running on an empty stomach if you want to lose weight because of its huge calorie burn. Just make sure you don’t overeat after.
It Helps Increase Your Endurance
Running on empty stomachs is definitely NOT the best idea if you’re a leisure athlete want to improve your performance. This is because your running intensity and duration would be restricted from your lack of glycogen. Because of this, you won’t be able to train as long as you would compared to eating more.
However, studies do show that there is an advantage of doing certain workouts on an empty stomach for professional athletes. BUT, there isn’t much substantial proof it leads to greater endurance or race performance. Furthermore, doing so can really affect your health negatively when doing it for the long term.
Fasted Cardio Burns Fat Better
Cardio on an empty stomach is known as fasting cardio, best done once you get up in the morning. People think that through doing this, your body burned the energy consumed from your last meal during sleep. This will then, theoretically, burn energy reserves from your fat during the run.
Research shows positive results from this theory, seeing that subjects who run on an empty stomach stayed in a fat-burning zone longer. BUT, comparing it to subjects who ate carbs before a run, both parties lost the same amount of weight!
So it goes to show that even if you use fat as energy for your run, these effects just balance out. There are several reasons why, such as your hunger right after the run, increasing the chances of overeating.
Furthermore, not fueling up before a run can cause dips in performance. Since you’re unable to run as hard compared to eating, beforehand, you might burn fewer calories and still feel ravenous afterward!
Should You Run on an Empty Stomach?
Now that we’ve debunked the myths and learned if it’s good or bad, should you run without eating first?
This actually all depends on YOU. Like I mentioned, there are so many people who choose to run without eating first, just as much as those who choose to eat beforehand. Either way, they get the results they want and need from their runs.
Depending on your goals and personal preference, I recommend that you test what makes you feel best during your runs. If you feel like running on an empty stomach has you feel lighter and helps you control your calorie consumption, then go for it! But if you need the calories to fuel up for longer and intense runs, that’s great too, as long as you avoid running immediately after a meal.
In my opinion, I don’t like running on an empty stomach because I feel a bit tired without food. Plus, even when I do eat before a run, I accomplish my running goals and still maintain a good weight. There’s no major difference between my muscle or body composition despite what they say.
Still, Want to Run on an Empty Stomach?
If you do choose to run on an empty stomach, make sure to follow these tips:
- You may not eat before running, but you have to drink water to stay hydrated! Consider using a hydration pack while running to prevent overheating. Keeping up with your liquids during long and intense runs is crucial, especially when you’re on an empty stomach.
- When you do plan on running without fueling up, it’s best to do so at a slower pace. Choose to eat on an empty stomach during recovery runs, which lessens the chances of fainting.
- After your run, fuel up with carbs and the right amount of protein. This replenishes the energy and has you recover faster. Choose carbs such as fruits, oatmeal, or other healthier meals that fit in your calorie consumption.
To learn more about running on an empty stomach, this video can help explain it further:
Wrapping It Up
There are a ton of running myths to consider and look into before you begin following them. With running on an empty stomach, this all depends on you and what your goals are.
Hopefully, this article about running on an empty stomach answered your question! So don’t wait any longer and begin incorporating what’s right for YOUR needs now.
If you have any questions or want to share your own experiences when running on an empty stomach, then comment below. Your thoughts are much appreciated.