Is It Bad to Work Out On An Empty Stomach?

You probably know about the importance of supplying your body with protein to increase your muscle mass. 

So, what about eating before working out?

In this article, we will see whether it is safe to work out on an empty stomach. We will also cover the essential macronutrients to include in your pre-workout meal.

What happens when you work out on an empty stomach?

Working out on an empty stomach may be safe or harmful, depending on how long you have been fasting. For instance, if you did not eat anything for hours, your liver and muscles may turn to your muscles as a source of energy.

Due to the limited amount of this resource, you may feel tired or less energetic during your workouts.

Conversely, your body could turn to fatty acids to produce energy, which helps you lose weight.

If you had your last meal 2–4 hours ago, your body should have enough energy to use without having to break down any valuable structures.

When should you eat?

Depending on the type of activity you are performing, you may or may not need to eat.

For instance, walking, gentle yoga, and golfing are low-impact exercises that probably do not require any fuel.

If you are doing strength training exercises, you will definitely need energy sources to maintain optimal performance. Additionally, long-duration exercises, such as marathons, require a lot of glucose for muscle contraction.

The ideal time to eat before exercising is 2–3 hours before working out. This will provide your body with enough glucose without making you feel heavy.

What to include in your pre-workout meal

Protein-rich foods

Protein consists of amino acids, which are vital to grow your muscles and optimize performance.

During strength training, your muscle fibers inflict microscopic tears that require repairing. Fortunately, your body is smart; so, instead of repairing the damaged tissues and calling it a day, it will promote the growth of those fibers with the help of hormones.

As a general rule of thumb, you should be getting 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. For instance, if you weigh 70 kg, you should consume 140 grams of protein per day.

In our previous article, we covered everything there is to know about the optimal time to take protein shakes. Check it out by clicking on this link (insert link).


Your muscles use glucose to generate energy during exercise.

Therefore, you need to consume some carbs 2–3 hours before the exercise. Note that it’s preferable to opt for simple sugars as they are easier to absorb and use by the muscles.

Green is key!

Vegetables are extremely healthy as they contain large amounts of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

These nutrients ensure the proper function of your muscles during exercise. Moreover, veggies improve cognitive abilities and energy expenditure.

For this reason, it is a good idea to include veggies in your pre-workout meal.

Takeaway message

Working out on an empty stomach may be okay for low-impact exercises. However, intense workouts require a readily available source of energy to prevent muscle breakdown.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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