Do you lose weight faster if you exercise on an empty stomach? | Food and knowledge

Exercising on an empty stomach is, according to one, a panacea for losing weight, and according to the other, it is harmful to health. What is the really correct statement? And what do you eat if you prefer not to exercise in a sober way? Two nutrition experts explain.

You are often told that exercising on an empty stomach increases fat burning or fat metabolism. “When the body makes an effort, it needs two types of fuel: fats and carbohydrates,” explains Prof. Asker Jokendrup. He is a nutritionist for NOC*NSF, an association of 93 Dutch sports organisations.

Carbohydrates can release a lot of energy in a short time, which is what we need in order to be able to exercise intensely. For a quiet effort, where you can still talk during your workout, fat will be the fuel. If you use more fats for fuel during the moment of sports, you can talk about an increase in fat metabolism. So it may be beneficial if exercising on an empty stomach can increase fat metabolism. “

The purpose of the exercise

However, Jeukendrup isn’t convinced that stimulating fat burning makes sense. “In itself there is nothing wrong with wanting to increase your fat metabolism to burn more, but the question is: What do you want to achieve from this? Better performance? For (top) athletes, it is especially interesting to improve fat and carbohydrate metabolism. You want an engine It can benefit from both types of fuel. To achieve this, you can alternate training on an empty stomach with training sessions where you first absorb enough carbohydrates. You should know: In the best sports, we do no more than two training sessions per week on an empty stomach.”

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Even in the best sports, athletes never train more than 2 times a week on an empty stomach: it is interesting to increase the burning of fats and carbohydrates. © Getty Images

Can exercising on an empty stomach help you lose weight?

If you think that you will lose weight by exercising on an empty stomach, you are wrong. This is much less important as a weight loss aid. To lose weight, you don’t have to increase your fat burning. You can also eat fewer calories. For example, when research shows that you can lose weight with certain time periods like intermittent fasting, it doesn’t mean that you lose weight because you don’t eat anything during a certain time period. You lose weight simply because you eat fewer calories that day: you skip a meal. This is not necessarily the best way. It’s best to choose something you can tolerate in the long run.”

Does Exercising on an Empty Stomach Help You Perform Better?

Sports nutritionist Anneke Palsma also sees a few benefits of exercising on an empty stomach. “Go ahead invite the guy with the hammer, because you don’t have enough fuel for the effort. Research also shows that your performance deteriorates.” For high intensity, you effectively need enough carbs. “We don’t have much room to store carbohydrates in our body, so they are quickly used up as fuel. When the carbohydrates are gone, you can’t get to a high intensity and soon you start training slower,” Jeukendrup confirms.


If you train too much on an empty stomach, your body can start breaking down your muscles to use as fuel.

Anne Balsama

“The second danger of exercising on an empty stomach is the breakdown of muscle mass,” adds Palsma. “If you train too much on an empty stomach, your body can begin to break down your muscle to use as fuel. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you will burn in a day. If you break down muscle mass, you are also guaranteed to reduce your final fat burn.” You can achieve the opposite with it.

Why should you exercise on an empty stomach?

After all this information, you might be wondering why some people are interested in exercising on an empty stomach. Palsma explains: “Some athletes cannot perform well on a full stomach. But even then, I recommend eating a very light breakfast, including carbohydrates. Think of a banana, a sandwich, or some muesli.”

Fortunately, if you sometimes train soberly, this does not mean that muscle breakdown occurs instantly. “This only happens if you train a lot and for a long time without eating enough beforehand. Enough attention to recovery after such training is doubly important. Carbohydrates are important for a good recovery, especially if you train on an empty stomach, you need to replenish them after training to keep them functioning.” your body optimally.”


Do you often exercise on an empty stomach?

  • Always yes (23%)

  • No, never (38%)

  • Occasionally if the exercise is not strenuous (39%)

1178 votes

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