Is Training On An Empty Stomach Ever Worth It?

Everything you need to know about how to eat when you're working out hard.


Roisin Dervish-O’Kane |

Is training on an empty stomach ever worth it? We answer that pertinent question, plus everything else you need to know about how to eat when you’re training…

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Is training on an empty stomach ever worth it?

Sorry, but there’s no consensus on this one. “The theory is that by not eating, and not stocking your muscles with glycogen, your body will use its fat stores for fuel instead,” says dietician Aisling Pigott. “But this hasn’t been proven.” If running on empty does work for you, be mindful. “It’s possible your muscles are more injury-prone when you’re exercising in a fasted state because you haven’t replenished your glycogen stores,” she says. So don’t make this the morning you push for a weights-room PB and pay attention to form.

READ MORE: Nutrition Experts Sweat By These 5 Body-Transforming Health Tips

What should I eat after an evening workout?

“Protein is essential,” says performance nutritionist Dr Kevin Currell. “Its amino acids trigger muscles to build and repair where they’ve been broken down.” Not counting macros? Sports nutritionist Emma Rose suggests aiming for 30g of chicken, fish, eggs or tofu. “Carbs are important for two reasons,” says Pigott. “First, muscles need glucose to replenish glycogen storage lost during exercise. Second, in order to transport the protein into the muscles, your body needs to release insulin, which is triggered in response to glucose, which you get from eating carbs,” she adds. The takeout: skip the starch; skip the muscle gains. FYI: You’ll need more carbs after treadmill sprints than 45 minutes at the squat rack.

READ MORE: 12 Fruits With Super High Sugar Counts

How soon should I eat before I train?

There’s no point in having an optimal balance of nutrients if you’re eating them at the wrong times. “Wait two or three hours after a main meal before you work out,” says Rose. Snacks are a different matter: hit those 30 to 40 minutes beforehand (within reason). “Avoid food high in fat, which doesn’t sit well in the stomach. High-fibre foods can also cause discomfort if you’re training hard,” says Rose. So ditch that nut butter and grab a banana.

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