Working Out On An Empty Stomach Isn't As Healthy As You Think

While it might seem like a good idea to work out on an empty stomach, it might be less helpful than you think — especially if weight loss is your goal. Rather than skipping your breakfast in favor of a CrossFit class, you might be better served by eating a small meal before exercising to keep your blood sugar balanced while staying energized enough to get the maximum benefit from a tough workout (via Healthline). 

Skipping a meal before training is often referred to as fasted state exercise and while in one small study, it was shown to speed up weight loss, another similar study found no difference between eating breakfast before working out versus exercising on an empty stomach. In fact, training while hungry could make your workout less effective, especially if you're doing a tough workout like a boot camp class or a long workout like a run lasting more than an hour: You may find that you're unable to push as hard as you could if you were properly fueled, and may even begin to feel dizzy, irritable or fatigued (via Healthline).

What to do instead of working out on an empty stomach

Rather than looking for a hack to make exercise more effective, getting into the habit of regular exercise fueled by a healthy diet will ultimately be the better way to lose weight or make gains in your training. "It's best to focus on regular exercise and not worry about pairing your workouts with fasts," William Kormos, M.D., told Harvard Health Publishing

That means starting the day with a breakfast with carbohydrates and protein that will squash cravings throughout the morning and get your body primed to push through a tough workout, registered dietitian Kristin Kirkpatrick told the Cleveland Clinic. "If you skip breakfast, you're starting the day on a dead battery," she added. 

If you do opt for a fasted workout in the morning ahead of breakfast, make sure that it's easy and short. Your body stores enough glycogen to handle an easy jog or a gentle yoga class, but for high-intensity, weightlifting, or longer efforts, you're better off having a snack beforehand (via Men's Health). And remember to fuel up afterward, otherwise, your body will struggle to recover and repair.