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.