Is It Better To Workout On An Empty Stomach To Lose Weight?

Is it better to workout on an empty stomach to lose weight

 Working out fasted is a very popular tool but is it better to workout on an empty stomach to lose weight when you have so many options?

 To put it simply, with everything considered equal in a person’s lifestyle, working out on an empty stomach will not lead to increased weight loss. But it can, however Improve your fat burning capabilities.  Both of these things have been proven substantially in various studies.

 Keep reading so you can have an in depth understanding of  using a workout on an empty stomach to lose weight.

Do you burn more fat exercising on an empty stomach

 Now although you don’t actually lose more weight on average by exercising on an empty stomach you can benefit greatly by burning more body fat which in the long run is what most people want anyways.

 In this study 20 females were separated into 2 groups. One of the groups would do aerobic activities fasted and the other ones would do them not fasted. 

 Being in a fasted state was the only difference and after the study was finished,  both groups showed a significant weight loss result. 

 The difference between both groups was very miniscule and thus it can be concluded after the analysis that working out in a fasted state does not increase how much weight you lose.

 This is a result from many studies but luckily,  exercising on an empty stomach has also been shown by various studies to increase how much fat is burned by an individual.

 This meta analysis by Cambridge University explains that low levels of insulin and glycogen during a fasted state will lead to dramatically increased fat oxidation during exercise.

So although you won’t lose more weight, you can expect to lose fat and have a better body composition, which is most people’s true long term goal anyways. 

Cardio vs weight training on an empty stomach for weight loss

Now that you know what kind of results can be achieved by exercising in a fasted state, let’s answer another question. 

Is it better to workout on an empty stomach to lose weight through cardio or weight training?

 When comparing cardio and weight training side-by-side it’s very clear which exercise burns the most calories and thus leads to greater weight loss.

 The average person will lose approximately between 90 and a 120 calories during a 1/2 hour of weightlifting.

 And someone who does half an hour of cardio can expect to burn between a 140 to 295 calories, the big variance being because of differences in weight, intensity and other factors.

 With an understanding of just these basics you can pretty much figure out that using cardio for weight loss might have a bigger bang for your buck.

 Things aren’t always so black-and-white because the performance you have during these activities also affect things like your adherence and long term success.

 Let’s see how an empty stomach affects your performance during weight lifting and cardio. 

 Exercising on an empty stomach can often come with feelings of exhaustion and lack of ability to reach your regular performance level. 

  These feelings vary from person to person , and because of that it’s important to try both cardio and weight lifting while fasting to see which you prefer. 

Cardio on an empty stomach

Cardio on empty stomach can help improve endurance and lessen digestive issues that are common among runners.

Although your stamina might take a hit by the low fuel, being able to avoid discomforts like needing to hit the bathroom after 5 minutes can be a real life saver.

Benefits of lifting weights on an empty stomach 

Weight lifting on an empty stomach can be ok if you aren’t lifting heavy, but it might be best to have a gym buddy if you have concerns. You might not perform as well, but if you have a very tight schedule, lifting weights and not eating beforehand is a big time saver. 

The benefits weight training gives you, like building muscle and overall general movement improvement are substantial.

Your goal doesn’t need to be the same as a swole bodybuilder because the benefits of resistance training can improve the quality of life for the average individual.

Now we’ve mentioned you can burn fat, and save a little time by working out on an empty stomach. 

Research has shown other benefits as well that I would like to point out.

Benefits of low body fat

Having a lower body fat percentage,the potential result of working out on an empty stomach, helps battle plenty of issues such as diabetes, joint pain and heart disease among other things.

Obesity is a growing issue in the progressing world. 

According to, 42.4 percent of U.S adults were considered obese in 2017-2018. 

With such a high rate, burning body fat could help many adults with their general health. 

Increased human growth hormone

If you workout on an empty stomach because of a fasting routine or lifestyle, you can benefit from increased levels of human growth hormone. 

In this peer reviewed publication, it was confirmed that fasting increase HGH by 1300 percent in women and 2000 percent in men over 24 hours. 

According to, human growth hormone plays an important role in the human body by building muscle mass, booting metabolism and burning fat.

Is it better to workout on an empty stomach to lose weight, no not really, but the many benefits you can receive outweigh that small disappointment. 

 Dangers of working out on an empty stomach

Working out on an empty stomach can lead to several potential risks, including: reduced performance during exercise, bad protein timing, and a risk for hypoglycemic episodes.

Reduced performance

Do you have a memory of some event that you went too on an empty stomach?

Like many people, you might have experienced irritability, fatigue and low attention span. 

Take those symptoms and add a gym session, doesn’t seem like a recipie for success now does it?

Of course you can make anything sound positive or negative if you spin it a certain way, but these are concerns to watch out for just to be safe.

For one, associating workout time with these negative feelings might cause you to give up on the healthy habit. 

And two, if working out on an empty stomach affects your performance then you won’t be getting the full potential benefits of exercise. 

That means potentially missing out on things like building muscle, improving functional movements, and yes, losing weight. 

If you find yourself being consistently affected by the negative effects of hunger while in the gym, maybe working out on an empty stomach is something you should avoid.

Protein spread reduced

Missing out on a meal before lifting weights means losing key protein timing windows. 

To stimulate muscle growth it is recommended that you consume 1.6 to 2.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

Did you also know that muscle development is achieved best when this amount is spread out throughout the day?

4 hours apart seems to be the magic number for protein consumption.

By not eating before a workout, you might also deny your body one of these times depending on your schedule.

Hypoglycemic episode

Finally, what is probably the most obvious one, working out on an empty stomach means running the risk of having a hypoglycemic episode.

That means your blood sugar level has dropped too low and you might experience symptoms like fatigue, anxiety or even falling unconscious.

If you experience any symptoms like these or you have concerns, it’s best to talk with your doctor before continuing with your scheduled fitness routine. 


So, is it better to workout on an empty stomach to lose weight?

Maybe not for weight loss, but you can definitely see that their are other reasons to consider it. 

Whatever you choose, make sure to weigh both the pros AND the cons to see of its for you.

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