An empty Stomach and a workout ( bench press, deadlift ) are a deadly combination. Workout needs an energy pump from the body to last long. This energy is obtained from pre-workout meals like oats, wholegrain bread, protein shakes, nuts, etc. Lifting weights is safe on an empty stomach only if it’s not too heavy and vigorous.
This rule goes for all other cardio exercises. Being empty stomach will only lead to passing out or collapsing due to extreme fatigue and tiredness within some minutes of a heavy workout.
It is better to have a healthy balanced meal full of essential carbohydrates, proteins, and fats two-three hours prior to your workout so that you sweat at maximum efficiency without harming your health.
In this article, we will walk you through some dos and don’ts of lifting weights on an empty stomach and bust some common myths and questions about the same. Stay Put and Grab a Protein Bite in the meantime.
Why Should You Not Lift Weights On An Empty Stomach?
Its believed that lifting weights on an empty stomach will increase the effectiveness and help you shred fat easily. But it’s a big wrong myth. Weightlifting on an empty stomach can lead to early exhaustion before completing the workout routine and pass you out due to energy drain. Here are some major reasons why one should not lift weights on an empty stomach:
1. You Won’t Receive A Muscle Pump
The energy phase during your workout will remain inadequate and less powerful on a prolonged fasted workout. Muscle building requires a continuous dose of energy obtained from protein and carbohydrates. Muscle pump is obtained from two bodily reactions:
i. Nitric Acid: Nitric acid is produced from essential amino acids. It helps to dilate the blood vessels for better oxygen and blood circulation in your muscle. An empty Stomach just means a lack of amino acids that end up in an unsatisfactory muscle pump.
ii. ATP chemical reaction: It is responsible for supplying chemical energy to the muscles by processing the macronutrients present in pre-workout meals. If you lift weights empty stomach, your body won’twon’t have enough carbohydrates to break down into ATP energy. As a result, the muscle pump will fall.
2. Muscle Starts Breaking Down
Lifting Weights and building muscles have catabolic properties. Maintaining a balance between two prominent muscle aspects- Muscle protein synthesis and Muscle protein breakdown is crucial.
Protein synthesis refers to the breakdown of macronutrients(carbohydrates and protein) from healthy food and supplements into useful amino acids for muscle fiber production.
Muscle protein breakdown is the usage of the muscle fiber by the muscles themselves to gain energy while working out. If you are short on macronutrients, this process skyrockets, and you lose muscle. Hence, it’s necessary to keep your macronutrients in adequate amounts as a ready energy source.
3. It Elevates Cortisol
Cortisol is a vital stress hormone that affects the mood and mental health of a person. It decides and controls the utilization of protein, fats, and carbohydrates in your body. Weightlifting on an empty stomach puts unwanted stress on your health and body. It makes your muscle go through a lot of pressure. This shoots up the cortisol level of the body. High cortisol levels are catabolic in nature and can cause muscle loss.
4. You Will Crash
An empty Stomach is like trying to work a laptop on a low battery. Sooner or later, the battery will drain, and the laptop will shut down. The same applies to the body; when you fast for long hours, your body has less energy. Lifting heavy weights and performing reps might work for some mins, but soon you will feel lightheaded and dizzy.
The body cannot go on without ample energy from macros. Post-workout you will feel like hitting the bed rather than feeling strong. Also, weightlifting on an empty stomach and then consuming a heavy post-workout meal will cause a sudden burst of blood sugar which can make you crash.
Tips To Lift Weights On An Empty Stomach
Above are the 4 reasons to avoid weightlifting on an empty stomach. But situations can occur where you are left with no choice but to work out while your stomach is empty. In such a scenario, it’s necessary to keep in mind a few tips for health and safety:
1. Have A Full-Blown Meal
Ensuring a full-blown up meal, one which has the required amount of fats and carbs, before bedtime could be considered a great choice if you have to lift the weight when on an empty stomach as the consumed carbs will be converted into muscle glycogen through breakdown, although the bundled fat will, however, slow up the synthesis of carbs as they are instantly used for energy.
This will leave you with abundant energy reserves in the morning to go on with your next lifting session.
2. Consume Digestive carbs
If you are someone who has no option but to train your muscles, basically lifting weights on an empty stomach, then consuming digestive carbs has to be on your list as when you exercise, glycogen, a kind of glucose stored in your body whose primary work is to supply energy to your muscles, is lost by your body which is also important for retaining as well as growing muscles.
Therefore, giving your body enough digestive carbohydrates is crucial so that it has no deficiency, which further leads to muscle loss or muscle injury. That is, we suggest including digestive carbs as your pre as well as in your post-workout routine. Moreover, it also helps in maintaining a healthy hormonal level.
3. Fasted Cardio
‘Fasted cardio” is one of the most conflicting topics ever. Some say it’s healthy to practice Fasted cardio and others keep different viewpoints on it, so basically, the term fasted Cardio means nothing but working out or exercising on an empty stomach so that your body uses the stored fat as an energy source rather than relying on any other taken source like a pre-workout meal.
Now the question which rises here is whether it safe and effective? Actually, it’s not that simple, and to be pretty honest, it works differently for everyone, but yes, it is definitely safer and advisable to continue fasted Cardio for a shorter duration of time as if practiced in a very long term. It might lead to low blood sugar or dehydration problems like dizziness, passing out, etc.
That’s all for you Gym Junkies! Now you know the risks and precautions of weightlifting on an empty stomach. We recommend abstaining from regular working out while on an empty stomach as it may cause health implications in the long run.
Energy is the main catalyst for lean and proper muscle growth; your muscles are consuming their fiber itself, making your efforts good for nothing. A simple yet fulfilling protein shake, balanced meal, nuts, and oat smoothies can be a great pre-workout meal to kickstart your muscle pump.
That said, in unavoidable circumstances, make sure to eat a heavy meal night before the workout day and include easy-absorbing macros in your diet. You will be able to lift weights close to normal. But, sticking to our former advice, Do not make it a habit. Eat Well, Flex Well.