By: @coreflexpilates founder Chris Bardawil
This is a topic that has so many variables but this article will give you some real world experience and ideas on how you can come to your own conclusion when it comes to working out on an empty stomach.
The first thing to consider is why are you working out on an empty stomach? Is it to save time, because you feel better working out fasted, or are you trying to burn more fat and promote weight loss?
Working out fasted may burn a little more fat in the short term, but is it worth the expense it's having on your health? The body can cope with fasted exercise for short periods but the thing to remember is that you are forcing the body into burning fat by releasing extra adrenal and thyroid hormones which get you into a ketogenic state (using fat as its primary fuel source). Long term this will lead you to feeling burnt out and sacrificing your hormonal health. It may also compromise your energy levels throughout the day and how hard you can workout.
A healthier approach would be to make your body as efficient at using fat for fuel as you can all day long - combining a good diet and a balance of resistance training and cardio you enjoy like playing sports, walking, hiking or running.
I like to have a small snack and coffee in the morning before working out, maybe just a coffee and a banana but it's enough to blunt cortisol and give you a boost during your workout as you are properly fuelled. If you are working out mid morning it is probably a good idea to have a small balanced meal 1 to2 hrs before you start.
Another thing to consider is the intensity of the workout. If you're going for a walk, or doing some gentle yoga and stretching then an empty stomach may be fine. On the other hand, if your workout is more intense like a run, gym class or an hour of sports you are most likely better off eating something before.
The topic of working out on an empty stomach is always going to be debated, but if your reason for not eating before your morning workout is anything other than for convenience or for lack of time then consider having a small snack and caffeine boost before your morning workout for a better workout, balanced blood sugar levels and improved wellbeing throughout the day.