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Training on an empty stomach?

Does anyone have any insight on how this might hamper lifting gains?

I’m not talking about training 3 hours after a high carb dinner or whatever, but training very early in the morning before having eaten anything. I figure during the school year my only time to train will be very early in the day. If I eat breakfast first, I’ll have to wait an hour before working out and I can’t wait that long as I have to head off to school…

Any thoughts?



If the search engine works, just put in your topic word for word and it should bring up several relevant threads.

If it’s not working, I believe the consensus was that it definitely didn’t work for strength gains, but I can’t recall a consensus on its affect on body composition and hypertrophy. I imagine going that long (sleep + wake up time + training) couldn’t be good for either, though.

I think most people would just wake up, knock down half of a MRP or so, and hit the weights. That’s what I do. I then shower, then eat breakfast, but I am definitely no diet guru. Most would probably suggest a post-workout shake, but I’m not high on two liquid meals in a row. Just old fashioned, I guess.

Hope that helps.

Hi, thanks for the reply.

Yeah, I tried the search engine [for this and other questions] but it doesn’t seem to be functioning, unfortunately.

Interesting that you said it didn’t work for strength gains but it might potentially work for hypertrophy purposes. I thought it would be exactly the converse, ie; neurological adaptation might allow for strength gains even under sub-par conditions.

What is an MRP? If I eat something then train right away, won’t that be even worse? What if I eat a few simple carbs (like a piece of fruit) and stick to a short workout? Would that be a worthwhile compromise?


Dammit. I always hate it when people mix up affect and effect, and there I go doing it. Funny.

A MRP is a meal replacement. Most here would probably suggest either Surge or Grow. The reasoning behind a MRP, I believe, is that it absorbs quickly, which is good if you’re going straight to work out. I wouldn’t want to eat much before a morning workout, especially legs, but you do need something. That’s why I stick with half of a MRP (20ish grams of protein, 10-15ish grams of carbs, minimal fat, and lots of other little “goodies”).

Some here ingest either slow-digesting proteins before bed or wake up in the middle of the night to take in some protein, as 6-8 hours is a long time to go without protein. Thus, another hour or two in the morning without protein would be even worse.

I would also expect carbs to be somewhat necessary for energy purposes. Many do cardio first thing in the morning on an empty stomach to take advantage of that fasted/glycogen depleted state. Lifting weights, I think, would be a different animal. While undergoing a process of essentially breaking down your muscles, I wouldn’t want to be in a fasted state - I would want my body to have some form of energy and protein reserves.

Personally, I would pass out from trying to lift on an empty stomach in the morning. I know others are different, but I just can’t do that.

As far strength gain from lifting in the morning, the experience with most seems to have been that it doesn’t provide as many gains as working out at a more “alert” time later in the day. I’ve been working out in the morning for the past few weeks, and my poundages are a little lower on some lifts. Part of that may just be me adjusting to an early morning schedule. :frowning: On some lifts, I feel that the one rep strength is there, but the endurance is not. Squats kill me that time of the morning, though I feel I could come close to my regular 1RM.

If the poundages used in the morning are less for most people, then I personally wonder if there is any carryover. For example, if you can lift x pounds y times in the afternoon, but only .8x pounds y times in the morning, then if you increased your morning ability to .85x pounds for y reps, would that increase your afternoon performance? I don’t know what the common experience is with this.

Jared, Surge isn’t really an MRP. It’s a post-workout drink only.

To the original poster, I think the “Essential Berardi” article may have some info for you. Go check it out at T-mag’s main page. Long story short, weight training after an all night fast ain’t ideal. (Nor are very early morning weight workouts, but that’s another topic.)

TEK, thanks, I should have made that distinction. Some people do take part of it during their workout and the rest of it after, so that may be another option for us early birds around here.

In addition to reading the Essential Berardi, read JB’s answer to this specific question in the following Appetite for Construction:


I train on an empty stomach at least once a week, and I see no signs of decrease in strength, as a matter of fact I do legs of all things on an empty one, and have seen nice gains. My only concern with training on an empty stomach is the catabolic effect which can come due to the lack of nutrients in the belly. I like to use some glutamine to try and counter act that, and I also recently purchased a product called cytodyne which also aids in preventing this. I feel that the calories burned while training on an empty stomach are definately worth it, as I wake up ripped the next day, and feel tight as ever that whole day, I also make sure to eat the house down, especially after a leg day:)

Wow, those Berardi articles are damn informative!

Unfortunately, I don’t have the money for a lot of supplements or meal replacements, so training on an empty stomach will have to do. I figure my body will adapt to the situation anyway although it’s certainly not ideal. I’ll experiment with eating an apple or something right before.

Thanks guys!


I find it best to train empty when I’m trying to gain weight, because more muscle less fat gain (due to the tremendous stress/neurological effect). But on hypocaloric diet I take some dextrose (very cheap & good stuff $1.5/kg), immediately before, during and after workout. This gives me good pump and reduce the catabolic action so much.

I find it best to train empty when I’m trying to gain weight, because more muscle less fat gain (due to the tremendous stress/neurological effect). But on hypocaloric diet I take some dextrose (very cheap & good stuff $1.5/kg), immediately before, during and after workout. This gives me good pump and reduce the catabolic action so much.

Jared NFS,

Dude, if your 15 lay off the roids. Your Testosterone levels should be through the roof as it is. Vary your training between some good programs and eat a diet that is appropriate to your goals. When you hit your 20s and 30s then worry about anabolics.

Why don’t you just get to bad an hour earlier and get up an hour earlier so that you can eat a good breakfast an hour before training? I’ve been doing that for quite a while now and, even though it’s hard at first, it becomes easier over time. I’ve gotten plenty of gains this way and don’t even like to train later in the day anymore. My favorite benefit to this is training when the gym is practically empty… it’s all mine!!!

Drink 1 serving of LC Grow immediatley after waking. Quick and Easy.


I’m already waking up an hour earlier…

I don’t intend to go to bed at 7-8PM to compensate, lol.


then how about supplimentz? what shood i take?

On the other hand, if all you’ve got is early morning ,that’s what you’ve got. I do my training around 5 a.m., due to preference and scheduling issues. Roll out of bed, drink some gatorade, pop an ECA pill, and go. I’ve been doing this for about a year and my lifts are still going up. Admittedly, I’m a girl :wink: and I’m not going for EXTREME hypertrophy, but I like my muscle and I’ve had no trouble that I can tell putting it on.
Fat loss…that’s another post…:slight_smile: