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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Runnin' on Empty

Exercising on an empty stomach is something I get asked about regularly. There are a number of things to consider in order to determine if  “running on empty” is a good idea for you—type of workout, time of day and duration of workout, as well as your general health and physical shape, are some aspects to factor in.

If you do a basic cardio workout such as running, biking or rowing first thing in the morning for no longer than 30 minutes, exercising on an empty stomach can be beneficial. However, many people tend to take the idea to the extreme, and will go all day without eating and then try to work out, which is not a good thing. Also, if you have any medical problems like low blood pressure, diabetes, or high or low blood sugar levels, I don’t advise working out at any time on an empty stomach, as your body may have a negative reaction.

The advantage of working out on an empty stomach first thing in the morning is that you have just enough energy stored from the night before to fuel your workout, and you also have a greater chance of burning stored fat, which will cause you to lose weight. This is due to the fact that, because your stomach is empty, you are more likely to burn calories already stored as fat, as opposed to using calories from recently digested food in your system.

Working out on an empty stomach does not speed up your metabolism. But it does help to kick-start it by increasing your heart rate, circulation and the amount of incoming oxygen, all things that help your body function more efficiently throughout the day. Exercising for more than 30 minutes on an empty stomach or at the end of the day is unhealthy and unadvisable since, without the necessary energy to fuel your workout, your body will start using your muscles as an energy source. This is not an efficient form of energy, and you may overexert yourself and experience dizziness or dehydration.

Weight training on an empty stomach is also not advisable, since a lot of energy is required for this kind of workout. Without the necessary energy, you won’t be able to work your muscles efficiently and increase muscle mass. Weight training is one of the best ways to burn calories and consequently lose weight, because the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. So, despite what most people think, starving yourself is the least effective way to lose weight, especially if you want the results to last.

Although working out on an empty stomach can help you lose weight, it will not happen overnight, and should not be used as a long-term solution to weight loss. Maintaining a healthy weight requires a lifestyle that includes a balanced diet and regular exercise.


Josh Salzmann is one of the United Kingdom’s leading fitness experts and has been a favorite Hollywood instructor for over a decade. For more information about Josh Salzmann, visit .

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