The TRUTH about empty stomach Cardio

Hi guy’s,

Today’s blog post is all about the myth of Cardio training on an empty stomach to burn more fat???

I train a lot of my clients in the morning and early afternoon and the No.1 reason for these clients (not all of you!) who fatigue early on in the workout or just find it plain impossible is because they have no fuel in the tank(skipped brekkie!).

This is most often due to lack of time or just laziness but just recently (well the past 3 months) I’ve had clients give me a different reason for skipping THE MOST IMPORTANT MEAL OF THE DAY! They’ve obviously been reading some misleading magazine articles.

The conversation has gone something like this…

Matt: What’s going on, we’re only half way through the workout?!!!
CLIENT: “I didn’t eat anything for breakfast.”
Matt: Why the hell not?
CLIENT: “I thought that’s what you’re supposed to do if you want to burn the most fat from your morning workouts.”


I must admit a few years ago the logic behind this seemed to make sense to me but resaerch has now proved this wrong. Let me explain.

The theory behind empty stomach cardio is simple: supposedly, by doing cardio on a empty stomach, you tap directly into fat stores since glycogen (carbohydrate) stores are somewhat depleted after an overnight fast.

Seems to make sense, but like I said research has proven this to be wrong.
Several studies have shown no difference in substrate utilization (glycogen vs. fat) for those working out on an empty stomach vs. those who eat a small meal prior to their morning workouts.

In fact, one study showed the exact opposite—those who had a small meal first burned more calories and more fat than the empty stomach group.

How can this be?
The reason is rather simple if you think about it. Even if not eating beforehand allowed you to burn more fat (which it doesn’t), the major trade off is performance.
Why does performance matter? Well, if you can’t perform at an optimal level and put forth maximal effort, then you are not going to be burning an optimal amount of calories.

The truth is, empty stomach cardio is an outdated philosophy whose theory was proven incorrect by research. Still, there are plenty of people who hold on to the theory despite the available research. Perhaps they’re not aware of it, perhaps they just go by what the fitness and bodybuilding magazines tell them (bad idea).
Whatever the reason, popular philosophy doesn’t always mean correct philosophy, and this is one such instance.
So I’ll leave you with some practical recommendations:
At the very minimum, have a couple scoops of whey before any morning “cardio” workout. That said, if it’s still negatively affecting your performance, you need to go a bit further. The meal doesn’t have to be large, but it should contain some complex carbs (oatmeal, etc) along with a small serving of protein. Give it about a half hour to begin digesting and then hit your workout. Don’t use time as an excuse. If your really pushed just grab a banana! Better performance = more calories burned = more fat loss = improved cardiovascular functioning = even better performance = even more calories burned = even more fat loss.

As I shared with you, the research shows that’s not going to make a difference anyway. Instead, eat your Weetabix (figuratively speaking) and then dominate your workout!

Client, you now have no excuses when I push you hard on those early morning workouts!!!!

PS. Bootcamp VI started on Monday and we’ve had a record number of sign ups!!!

Stay tuned,


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