Question: Should you do P90X on an empty stomach? If I exercise on an empty stomach in the morning, will I burn more fat?
Answer: The theory behind this is that your blood sugar levels are low when you’re in a fasted state (after going all night without eating) which targets more fat burning.
The problem of this is that just because you’re using more fat as fuel doesn’t mean you’re actually burning more fat off your body. Burning fat is more about overall calorie expenditure, not just about the type of energy you exert into your workout. If your working out on an empty stomach, especially after fasting all night during your sleep, you may experience fatigue which can lead to crashing. If your working out with low energy levels, you are not working out to your full potential, which isn’t allowing you to burn off the maximum amount of calories.
There are other benefits to a light snack prior to your workouts:
- It can boost recovery and strength gains
- It can help you sustain longer, more intense workouts
- It can help you avoid low blood sugar, which can make you feel dizzy or nauseous
- It can make your workouts more enjoyable (since you’re not thinking about eating the whole time)
The bottom line is, you have to find a system that works for best for you. You may be fine doing cardio without a meal in the morning, but strength training may require more fuel to really challenge your muscles. The best answer to this is to do what works for you. Don’t starve yourself just because you think you’re burning more fat… after all, if you cut it short or lower the intensity of a workout because of low energy levels, how much fat are you burning anyway???…
When I say eat before a workout, I do NOT mean prepare a full meal. Eating too much prior to the workouts can be just as problematic as not eating at all.
If you do eat before a workout, make sure you give your body time to digest. The larger the meal, the more time you’ll need. Working out on a too full of a stomach will cause fatigue, as well. Instead of the blood being pumped to help fuel your muscles, the blood will be redirected to your stomach to help the digestive process. But, if you choose a light snack (100-200 calories) and stick with higher carb fare, you can probably exercise after about 30-45 minutes (depending on the intensity of the workout you have – example, Tony suggest not eating at least an hour prior to Plyo X since its an intense workout).
Personally, before my cardio workouts, I will either workout on an empty stomach or maybe snack of something SUPER light, such as an apple. Prior to my P90X resistance days, I will usually eat an apple or a banana and a tuna sandwich on wheat about an hour prior to working out. If I squeeze my workout in mid morning, then I will prepare my Shakeology about two hours before. I feel this small snack gives me a boost of energy without leaving me too full.
Pre-workout snack ideas:
- Banana (or other type of fruit)
- Energy bar or gel
- Fruit smoothie
- Peanut Butter and Honey Sandwich
- Tuna Sandwich
Make sure you don’t over-eat prior to working out. You don’t want to have to cut a workout short because of cramps, and you especially don’t want whatever you ate to come back up and have to clean the mess! Stick to a light, conservative snack – if not before cardio, then definitely before your P90X resistance days.