Moderators: melkor

Doing Cardio while hungry..... is this bad?

Quote  |  Reply

Is it bad to do cardio while you're hungry or really hungry?  I've been doing 45 minutes of vigorous elliptical-ing 5 or 6 times a week, and I don't eat before it because I thought that might help me loose more weight?  Like to get energy, my body is going to have to "eat" my fat instead of whats in my stomach and then I'll loose weight.  Is this true?  What do you guys think?

11 Replies (last)

I don't know whether the theory of your body eating your fat on an empty stomach is true or not, but I do find that if I work out right after work on an empty stomach, it really reduces my appetite and I eat less for dinner.

As long as you are well hydrated and you aren't so hungry you feel lightheaded, I don't think there's anything wrong with working out hungry.

I never work out hungry.   I don't work out full either.  I typically have a little snack (100-140 calories) about 15 minutes before I work out. And work out in the afternoon.

Working out on an empty stomach does maximize fat burning, but it also maximized muscle loss too.

The thing is, you are burning calories.   Where the calories come from, if you are losing weight, don't make a difference.  (Unless it's your muscles!)

What is more important is to burn the calories and have the energy to do it.  That's why I don't prescribe to the "fat burning zone vs cardio burning zone" philosophy.   And also why I don't believe in the myths that you can't eat after 8 p.m. or that you have to work out on an empty stomach.  :)

Quote  |  Reply

While there's nothing wrong with exercising hungry (as long as you have enough energy to complete your workout with good intensity), the idea that your body is using fat rather than food for energy is simply not true.

First of all, if you eat 30 minutes to an hour before your workout, the food won't have been digested to be able to be converted to energy.  Secondly, for most purposes calories are calories and whether you burn them from "new" calories or "stored" calories, it won't matter.

There are different philosophies as to what is better (empty stomach vs. eating), but the net results for the vast majority of the population simply aren't different enough for it to matter beyond personal preference.  I like to have a little something in my stomach, but I'd rather be toward empty than full, for sure!

Quote  |  Reply

Oh, and I'd just add that the bottom line for the general public is this:  do whatever lets you have the best possible workout.  If not eating is marginally better than eating, but you are able to have a much more intense workout when you have eaten, then it would be silly not to put something in your stomach.

Do what works for your workout!

I simply can't workout on an empty stomach, a full stomach or burn through something simple.  I have to have 200-300 calories 1-2 hours before workout in a way that sticks but doesn't weight me down.  Grape Nuts or oatmeal. 

Otherwise, I will poop out.  If I exercise in the afternoon, I can go longer between meals because I'm already "revved up" and I plan dinner right afterwards. 

It gets dangerous when you start getting lightheaded. I fainted on an elyptical machine once because I hadn't eaten in a couple of hours and I over exhausted myself. You need to be safe during your workout



Are you working out first thing when you get up?

They normally say workout on empty stomach only if you're an early bird to workout to burn the meals before.

When I workout I eat an hour before my workout which usually is a light snack.


If you're working out say at 11am and have not eaten since the night before then yea thats not good cause your money doesn't have the fuel.

If you ate and then within 5 hours worked out, your body isn't even capable of using the food in your stomach and intestines as fuel. Sorry, but it hasn't metabolized it yet so it's going to use the energy stores already in your system to fuel you. Your body is not like a vehicle using only what's in the 'tank' to propell it. Unfortunately, if you run or jog or do anything cardio with a full belly, not only will you be slightly lathargic but you're probably going to cramp up which will lead to you cutting your workout time short. That's about it.

my body needs fuel to work.  when ever I exert without having a little something my stomach heaves.  dry heaves suck at the not hot.

As long as you don't feel sick while you are working out then you should be fine. I know there are days when I feel like I am going to puke if I don't eat something and there are other days where I can just get up and run with no problem. Just do what is working for you.
11 Replies