Does Exercising Hungry Burn More Fat?

Fuel your body to get the most out of your workouts.

You’ve probably heard the claim: If you exercise while hungry, your body will burn more fat. But is it true?

The theory behind this is pretty simple. If you exercise while hungry, your body will dip into fat stores for fuel – instead of just using the carbohydrates readily available from a pre-workout meal. It seems to make sense – but how does it measure up?

A new report in Strength and Conditioning Journal looked at the data and concluded that the body burns the same amount of fat regardless of hunger. However, the report also found that you’re more likely to lose muscle when exercising in a depleted state.

Moreover, I suspect that hungry exercisers won’t have the energy to really push their workout and to increase intensity. When I’m hungry, I don’t have the energy needed to power through my sets and reps – and by cutting down on my workout, I cut down on my results.

It’s important to provide your body with the fuel it needs. You wouldn’t take a road trip without fuel in your car, and neither should you hit the gym while hungry. Even eating a banana an hour before working out can help give your body some quick fuel.

Bottom line: Don’t exercise hungry.

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  1. Davey,

    that’s true… i have heard about it. And you cane feel it too!

    But I never know what should I really eat before a workout and how many hours before!

    Could you give us a tip? And a tip for non dairy people as well?



    • I find oatmeal or other unrefined cereal with milk and a banana to be a perfect per-workout meal. Eat about an hour before. Avoid heavy foods because when you workout blood goes to your extremities rather than the stomach, so anything heavy is going to just sit there uncomfortably.

  2. Exercising while hungry sounds like a good way to make yourself pass-out or faint. It just never sounded like a very good idea to me…

  3. Actually not to rebuttle but there exist a good amount of evidence of the opposite being true. Just do a good search on pubmed for fasted training and you’ll find that some retain quite a bit of muscle while training on an empty stomach and it would take more than 48 hours of fasting before your body would choose to feed off your muscle. Now, low blood sugar and passing out of hunger is a completely different story and if you are susceptible to those types of things, you should never even attempt that. But the human body is quit the intuitive design, it will choose fat stores before muscle to burn in time of famine. Survival mechanism you could call it.

    • I believe the opposite to be true. We are genetically programmed to retain our fat stores, unfortunately. Doing vigorous exercise on an empty stomach will result in a catabolic state, I.e. eating our own muscle.

  4. I’m agree with charly… but it doesn’t work as fast as i expected!

  5. Anyone can believe what they want the proof is in the studies and in our genes for survival. Charley, granted, we are programmed to store fat…your body is also programs to use it first before tearing down muscle…survival mechanism. Granted with our SAD diets whenever strenuous exercise is done, the body will use what is widely available and in the case of SAD, carbohydrate is what is widely available. While I probably would not even attempt to do strenuous cardio on an empty stomach…and nice sturdy walk to burn fat would be enough. Anyways for more info, check, theiflife,, the adoniscomplex, and above all pubmed for science backed info

  6. Most folks feel that dropping excess weight is difficult. Getting began is the difficult part but once you get the dangle of it, you won’t even recognize that you’re undergoing a bodyweight reduction system. People who are desperate to shed excess fat are in simple fact taking risky methods in buy to obtain their ambitions by skipping meals and functioning out like there’s no tomorrow. Other folks even vacation resort to tablets that have no accepted therapeutic claims. I hope that readers who read through my assessment on the Fat Decline Factor would find out that getting rid of fat can be accomplished without having risking their effectively-getting.

  7. built by the gods says:

    What nonsense if body uses muscle as fuel , u must really have low body fat like 3 percent, hence visit a construction worker and ask him how hard he works , and if his body was burning muscle for fuel wen he got hungry n could’nt eat he wid be died

  8. If you want a non-healthy person’s POV (because most of you may be working out with an already toned body, with not much fat), I can tell you that I know from experience that the body dips into muscle stores before fat stores. I was very ill and in the ICU for about a month at one point and before going in, I hadsome bekly fat and some overall body fat. And when I got out, I still had mostof my fat, but my muscle was gone. I had almost nithing on my legs! That’s why when you see pictures of starving people with kwaziorchor, they are skinny with a distended belly, but they also have almost only the bone, no muscle. It makes sense if you think about logically, rather than just referencing articles that you perhaps did not read in their entirety (I apologize for the presumption of that remark, but I am presuming this based on the fact that you are not actually citing actual conckusions and linking the source material) : the body when starving will choose the highest quality protein to feed itself, and that is your muscle. Fat is kept for emergency situations. So, based on my personal experience, I think that exercizing while hungry would not be a good idea.

  9. Good blog post. I definitely appreciate this website.
    Continue the good work!


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