Loading... Please wait...

All Things Gear Beast

3 Myths About Early Morning Running on an Empty Stomach

Posted by Gear Beast on 25th Jul 2017

A common question runners come upon: running on an empty stomach- yes or no? Everyone you talk to has an opinion on this topic. For some, this is a regular part of their training, while others refuse to exercise on an empty stomach. In this blog post, we’re diving into the three big myths and the truth behind them.

Working out on an empty stomach can lead to muscle loss

In general, people think working out without eating breakfast leads to muscle loss. But good news! Your muscles won’t disappear right away. Often, people (wrongfully) assume that without food, your body lacks the necessary carbohydrates and glucose for a morning training session. According to this view, the body must break down muscle protein to get the energy it needs to power through a workout. So, in simple terms, the body loses muscle. Buuuut this is not exactly true: The body stores glucose in the form of glycogen in the liver and muscles. Throughout the night, the body’s levels of insulin and liver glycogen decrease. However the body still has the muscle glycogen stores. So when you wake up and go without food, your body initially gets its energy from the glycogen stored in your muscles.

As your workout continues, the stores of glycogen in your muscles are virtually exhausted. Thus your body needs to find a different supply of energy and it resorts to free fatty acids for fuel. Now if you crank up your workout (to more than the 100% you were already giving of course), your body will also obtain the energy it needs by breaking down proteins. At this point you run the risk of losing muscle. But most runners will have stopped their workout by this point.

Working out on an empty stomach is the best method to lose weight

An empty stomach workout is often recommended as the best way to burn fat and lose weight. While properly running on an empty stomach can eventually force your body to increasingly obtain the energy it needs from free fatty acids, this is not the decisive factor in losing weight.

The percentage of energy created from burning fat is high, but the total energy expenditure, and thus calorie consumption, are relatively low due to the low training intensity. In workouts like high-intensity running or interval training, the percentage of energy produced by burning fat is significantly lower. But the total energy expenditure and calorie consumption are many times higher. All in all what matters most in weight loss is the energy balance: if you burn more calories than you consume, you’ll lose weight. Thus, high-intensity running sessions are preferable to running on an empty stomach when it comes to losing weight.

Running on an empty stomach increases your endurance

Working out on an empty stomach is not a good idea for leisure athletes who want to improve performance. Training duration as well as intensity are severely restricted by the lack of glycogen. Because of this, the intended training stimulus is rather low. A high-quality workout that lasts longer at a higher intensity is much better for increasing one’s performance.

Studies on professional athletes have shown that extremely positive effects can be achieved by specific workouts with emptied glycogen stores. This will cause your body to optimize and economize its fat metabolism. Our bodies can learn to do longer with the glycogen stored in our muscles. But there is no substantial evidence proving that this leads to improved race performance. Keep in mind, however, that regular training with previously emptied glycogen stores can seriously harm your health.

So if you want to run on an empty stomach, we recommend:

  • Your run should last between 40 and 60 minutes, depending on your fitness level.
  • You should choose a low intensity level (perhaps a recovery run or a conversation pace).
  • You should drink a big glass of water before your run.

Another tip: for your breakfast afterwards, make sure to take advantage of the anabolic window (aka the Open Window) in the first 30 minutes after your workout. At this time your body can absorb nutrients much faster than usual, so it can optimally replenish its empty stores.

​The Best Before-Bed Snacks for Weight Loss

Whether eating late at night leads to weight gain is still up in the air, but one thing is for sure: if you want to lose weight, you need to create and maintain a calorie deficit. The number of calories you cut or consume per day plays a huge role in your weight loss.Sometimes late-night [...]

Read More »

5 Vegetables That Are Healthier Than You Think

Your parents probably always told you to eat your veggies and you probably didn’t listen. Doctors are sternly warning people about the need to eat more produce. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported only 8.9% of adults in the U.S. were eating the recommended amount of vegetables. Most barely eat one serving a [...]

Read More »

​Training for an Obstacle Race

s running across a finish line not good enough for you? Are you interested in running across a finish line caked in mud? You’re not alone. More than 2 million people complete obstacle races in 2012 and that number is still increasing. It may seem intimidating to run through mud and dirt while tackling obstacle [...]

Read More »

You Want to Run a Marathon?

26.2 miles seems outrageous to some people, but kudos to you for deciding to tackle an awe-inspiring mission. Completing a marathon takes commitment, dedication, and time but ultimately provides many rewards. The majority of training plans call for 16 to 20 weeks of training. A good training plan will have you run three to five (or sometimes more) times per [...]

Read More »

Get Up and Go! How to be a Morning Runner

So maybe you’re not a morning person. The thought of setting your alarm for before 8 AM is unsettling. But with busy work days and the extreme Summer heat, the only time you have to run lately has been in the mornings. If you are running less than you want to, consider changing the time of day that you [...]

Read More »

Core Moves for Runners

A strong core will greatly benefit your running. Increasing stability in your core improves your posture allowing you to navigate trails more easily and build muscle along the way — plus, core stability is a huge factor in injury prevention for runnersCore work doesn’t have to mean long hours in the gym, either: the best core work tends to [...]

Read More »

Cycle for a Cause

Having just participated in a charity 5K road race this past weekend got us thinking about what other events are organized around charities.   If you have a bike - hop on and help knock out Cancer, Diabetes or Multiple Sclerosis or some other bothersome disease!Here are a few - let us know if you have [...]

Read More »

Workout for a Cause!

As the weather begins to warm up and you reengage with your sneakers, why not take this opportunity to partner up with a charity and raise money while working out!Check out the growing category of fitness apps that double as a fund raiser while you pound the pavement. Here are five that we have found and tried. [...]

Read More »

Protein Shakes - What's The Story Part III

Now that we have our Protein Powder (See our Previous Post), it's time to make some delicious tasking shakes. Despite the good protein shakes do for our bodies, they can sometimes be a little hard to swallow-literally. But with these recipes you will be enjoying each sip!  For each recipe, put all the ingredients into a blender [...]

Read More »