T Nation

Work Out on an Empty Stomach


When in a cutting phase, I've read contradictory advice on whether or not to work out on an empty stomach to increase fat loss. Can anyone shed light on this subject.


I personally would never train (with weights) on an empty stomach, nor do I understand why anyone would want to. If you feel it'll help, you can do your cardio fasted. But cutting is more a matter of diet than anything else.


Personally, I would avoid working out on an empty stomach if at all possible. First of all, with nothing in your stomach you will more than likely either feel lethargic for the entire workout or crash 10 minutes in. Either way, your workout is going to be garbage.

While working out while in a fasting state may lead to your body to turn to fat for fuel because your glycogen stores are lower, there is always the strong possibility that your body turns to muscle for fuel, which is what you don't want. Even if you are in a cutting phase, I would suggest getting around 10-20 grams of protein in pre-workout so your body has some fuel source to turn to other than itself. The protein won't effect your glycogen stores so your body will still start burning fat once those are up, and it will protect your muscles from getting used for fuel as well.

Get big or die tryin'.

Charlie Cates, CPT
Self Made


Also, I believe I read that studies showing spiked cortisol levels after 45 minutes of training were done on subjects in a fasted state. So, if you don't want your cortisol levels shooting up after 45 minutes then eat.


Low intensity steady state cardio...yes
Weights or interval training....no

Cant remember who recommended it but some people take a teaspoon of olive oil before morning cardio to prime fat burning mechanisms


I've worked out on an empty stomach, or on nothing but black coffee. I didn't crash and have had great workouts that way, but I can't say that there was any benefit, either, other than the fact that I found it convenient and comfortable.


i mean, i don't workout while i'm starving or even hungry for that matter, but i don't lift immediatly after a meal.

i'd say the closeset i get is eating 60-90min before i lift


I saw that advice in "This that are true I can not prove"(or some such) on T-Nation alpha. Basically the theory boils down, have fat the first available source of energy and when that runs out it will continue to consume fat.

I like to have at least a shake or a hand full of almonds before I work out.


Ahhh, thats where I saw it...cheers

Haven't tried it though


Just maintain the energy level for the workout.

For me hunger is a certain "motivator". But I've also had times where I've been very motivated, but had no energy.


While in a cutting state you are clearly trying to burn fat. The problem is that to burn fat you have to be completely out of glycogen, which means you have to work out for an hour or more or not have been eating carbs for a while. The other problem is that to be able to burn fat for fuel you have to burn protein to facilitate the fat turning into fuel. This means that if you don't take in a protein source before you begin a session with the intention of burning fat, your body will turn to its next available protein source, i.e., your muscle. This goes regardless of whether it is a weight training session or a cardio session. So, like I said before, take in a protein source before you work out so that when you run out of glycogen you can begin using that protein to fuel fat loss rather than your own muscle.

Get big or die tryin'.

Charlie Cates, CPT
Self Made