This may go against everything that you believe to be true about preparing for a great workout, but training on an empty stomach may be the catalyst for improving your workouts and gains. Many people will tell you that you can't expect your body to respond to physical demands in the absence of energy (food) much the same in that you can't expect an engine to run without fuel or electricity present. While that may be true for the latter, it isn't necessarily so when it comes to our body and what it's capable of doing. There are of course many great reasons for training after you've consumed a couple of meals during the day but I challenge you to consider these 5 reasons for changing your thought process and training instead on an empty stomach.
Reason #1: Feel Lighter
I don't know about you guys but after consuming a meal that is dense in nutrients and calories, the last thing I want to do is train in the immediate future. I like the idea of feeling light in my stomach when pushing myself to the limits in the gym. On an empty stomach, you don't have to worry about any digestive issue arising during the workout, feeling sick or lethargic or having to wait until your food is broken down to help eliminate any potential inflammation that can occur in the stomach in response to eating certain foods.
Reason #2: Fat for Fuel
Possibly one of the best reasons for training on an empty stomach is that once you've used up stored muscle glycogen to fuel your workouts, the next place that energy will come from is stored body fat. This is great for those looking to increase their fat loss. I would suggest that if you are doing this in the morning that you don't couple your weight training session with a cardio session as this will just be too much for your body and it will start to break down muscle to fuel the cardio session which is something we want to completely avoid.
Reason #3: Heightened Natural Growth Hormone Levels
Growth hormone has shown to significantly increase lean muscle tissue as well as aid in fat loss. When you train on an empty stomach, natural growth hormone levels are already high due to the fast but then it also gets released in response to the training stimulus to a greater degree as compared to training after having eaten. If you can take advantage of this phenomenon, you will significantly alter your body composition for the better.
Reason #4: More Energy
When we eat, our body responds by releasing insulin to control our blood sugar levels which for some of us can make us feel a little sluggish at times. You don't have to worry about this if you go to train on an empty stomach and you may just find that your energy levels are actually much better. You could also notice that your focus is much better in the gym and your intensity levels higher simply because your body isn't working on digesting food while working on fuelling your workout all at the same time.
Reason #5: Convenience
How many times have you had to fit in a workout during a busy day only to realize that you can't workout yet because you haven't eaten anything? In a perfect world, you'd be able to set your day up perfectly for whatever you believe is the best scenario for training, however we all know perfect doesn't always exist. Rather than thinking that your workout will be a waste without having a meal first, take advantage of this time and reap the rewards of training on an empty stomach instead and relax a little bit about maintaining a strict eating and training schedule.
The nice thing about training on an empty stomach is that you'll be saving a little money here and there on your food for the week which you can then put towards purchasing a new pair of Super Freaks from Heyday Footwear. If that doesn't entice you to train on an empty stomach, maybe the reasons mentioned above will.
Author: Dana Bushell
AST Sports Science sponsored athlete/writer, sponsored by Schiek Sports Inc.