“The Secret To Burning Fat During Your Next Workout”
We can all agree that exercising improves health and overall well-being, but how specifically working out affects us varies from one person to another. While our genetic predispositions to fat loss and muscle gain may be out of our control, subtle factors – like when we eat – may be more powerful than we think when it comes to looking and feeling our best.
In fact, a recent study found that the best way to burn fat for fuel is to work out on an empty stomach. This particular study divided 30 sedentary men into two groups. One group consumed a vanilla-flavored shake two hours before cycling while the other cycled on an empty stomach (they were given a zero-calorie flavored placebo drink). After the ride the drinks were switched, meaning that those that previously got the placebo now got the shake and visa-versa. In the end the researchers found that while all of the riders burned about the same amount of calories, the riders who had pedaled on an empty stomach burned twice as much fat!
Why? When you eat before a workout your body will use what you just ate as fuel – meaning instead of burning fat, it’s burning that banana you just noshed. Only once that fuel runs out does our body reach for stored fat – and many people don’t get to that point unless they’re doing a very intense workout.
That said, working out on an empty stomach might not be best for every type of workout. “It can make you sluggish in your movements,” says BeRevolutionarie nutrition expert Amber Trejo, M.S, WLS, FNS, NASM-CPT adding that those sensitive to blood sugar drops should avoid working out in a fasted state. While Trejo isn’t a fan of weight training or HITT on an empty stomach, many people can safely do yoga, walking, and even cardio on an empty stomach first thing in the morning, she says.
“When you sleep you’re in a fasted state, this steady state puts your heart rate in the fat burning zone and you’re able to maximize your fat burning capability by working out at this time since,” she says. Can’t workout first thing in the morning? You don’t need a 12-hour window for an empty stomach. “Your stomach empties out every 3-4 hours, so generally speaking, at that 4th hour you have an empty stomach,” says Trejo.
If you want or need to eat before your workout, Trejo singles out coconut water with a scoop of collagen or protein powder as a good option. “This combo is great because it has sugar, protein and the electrolytes from the coconut water to keep you hydrated. A rice cake with some peanut butter and a glass of almond milk with a scoop of collagen powder is another good option.”