With some fitness gurus advocating exercising on an empty stomach to maximize fat loss, Greatist investigates: does working out on an empty tank really speed up fat loss, or will it simply lead to burnout midway through a workout ?
To Eat Or Not to Eat — Why It Matters
Don’t give in to those tummy grumbles just yet— studies suggest working out on an empty stomach increases the rate muscles use fat as fuel during exercise . In other words, exercising after a fast might stimulate greater fat breakdown than working out soon after a meal . Exercising after a fast may even help prevent drops in blood sugar that can cause dizziness, weakness, and even fainting during a tough workout .
But don’t pass on that pre-workout snack just yet. While the body relies more on fat to get through a workout while on an empty stomach, that won’t necessarily make a difference when it comes to losing weight. Other research suggests the actual amount of fat and calories burned with an empty tummy is ultimately no different from the amount of fat burned working out after eating a snack (though the snack itself adds on extra calories to that daily intake) .
Running on Empty — The Answer/Debate
While that pre-workout snack brings extra calories along with it, research suggests munching on something before hitting the gym may significantly improve exercise endurance . And the benefits of a pre-workout snack may even extend beyond exercise. In one study, women who ate carbohydrates prior to exercise consumed less over the remainder of the day than those who exercised without fueling up  .
But what makes the perfect pre-workout fuel? The snack choice itself may simply be a matter of personal preference, but remember: adequate nutrition to help the body recover will always be a must. Starving the body in the hopes of shedding pounds faster could cause the body to compensate by slowing down its metabolism (and potentially undermining weight loss goals).