Running on Empty?
Every now and again someone mentions doing cardio workouts on an empty stomach….
Now, I say “cardio”, but really it was a metabolic resistance training session. The style of training I use in my bootcamps.
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, simply, metabolic resistance training is “cardio with weights” that could be actual weight or your own body weight or resistance bands.
I can tell when clients have not eaten, we get about 10 minutes or so into the workout and they look pretty tired (despite being really fit).
So’ I’ll ask them did they have breakfast?
“I didn’t eat anything for breakfast.”
– Why not?
“I thought that’s what you’re supposed to do if you want to burn the most fat from your morning workouts.”
Oh dear – another hang over from Body for Life – a popular concept a few years ago…. And I must admit I used it in my Aerobic sessions.
Perhaps you still believe it can work for you. So lets have a look at the theory behind empty stomach cardio is simple: supposedly, by doing cardio on a empty stomach, you tap directly into fat stores since glycogen (carbohydrate) stores are somewhat depleted after an overnight fast.
Seems to make sense, but research has proven this to be untrue.
Several studies have shown no difference in the source of the energy you use for those working out on an empty stomach vs. those who eat a small meal prior to their morning workouts.
In fact, one study showed the exact opposite—those who had a small meal first burned more calories and more fat than the empty stomach group.
How can this be?
The reason is rather simple if you think about it.
Try to run on empty and you’ll barely get through my workouts. Even if not eating beforehand allowed you to burn more fat (which it doesn’t), the major trade off is performance.
And why does performance matter? Well, if you can’t perform at an optimal level, then you are not going to be burning an optimal amount of calories.
The truth is, empty stomach cardio is an outdated philosophy whose theory was proven incorrect by research. Still, there are plenty of people who hold on to the theory despite the available research. Perhaps they’re not aware of it, perhaps they just go by what the fitness and bodybuilding magazines tell them (bad idea); I’m not sure.
Whatever the reason, popular philosophy doesn’t always mean correct philosophy, and this is one such instance.
So I’ll leave you with some practical recommendations:
At the very minimum, have a couple scoops of whey before any morning workout. Or better still a properly balanced workout shake… you can swig it on your way here and finish it in the magic ‘hour’ after your exercise.
Better performance = more calories burned = more fat loss = improved cardiovascular functioning = even better performance = even more calories burned = even more fat loss.
Don’t have a crappy workout because you didn’t eat.
Research shows that’s not going to make a difference anyway.
Instead, eat and then dominate your workout!
Eat Clean Train Hard Expect Results jax allen © 15/12/10