Weight Training on an Empty Stomach: Don’t Do It

Weight Training on an Empty Stomach: Don’t Do It
by Jonathan Lawson

With spring on the horizon, many of you are likely setting new goals for the warm weather months.  Trying to lose bodyfat without losing muscle is probably pretty high on the to-do list…

In an effort to burn the most fat possible, a lot of people try to work out immediately after waking in the morning with nothing but some coffee or other caffeine-based fat burner in their system.  We’ve all been been told, after all, that you can burn the most fat if you train on a completely empty stomach.

Well, chances are that this is true and you probably will burn more fat if you work out on an empty stomach.  However, you really shouldn’t be too concerned with burning fat during your weight-training workouts. You need to be fueled for intensity so you can do enough damage to the muscles to cause growth and to burn fat after the workout (during the rebuilding process). If not a full meal about an hour before training, a preworkout shake will certainly do the trick.

Along with simply building more muscle, you can  also add intensity techniques that traumatize muscle fibers to help boost up your metabolism and burn fat as you recover between workouts. That’s right: You burn fat and build muscle while you’re sitting still. Plus, adding muscle to your frame will help in the long run, as you burn more fat even at rest, since it requires calories to subsist.

Just to be clear: Training with weights on an empty stomach is not a good idea. While you may burn a little more fat during the workout, your cortisol will be higher and you will burn muscle tissue. Plus, your energy level will be lousy because of low blood sugar. Remember, you want to be energized and motivated to attack the workout so you create muscle damage. That’s a key component to ensuring the fat-melting side-effect of building muscle.

Besides potentially using Fat-to-Muscle fiber-trauma techniques, such as negative-accentuated sets (lowering for six seconds on each rep), in order to really amplify the fat-burning effects, you can do a couple other simple things during your weight workout to help burn more fat:

  1. Short rest between sets. This mimics interval cardio training, similar to sprinting the straights and walking the curves on a running track. That’s been shown to burn fat during the low-intensity walk, which you can duplicate by pacing between weight-training sets.
  2. Do a short cardio session immediately after the workout. You’ve used all existing blood sugar for your weight workout, so you will tap into fat stores almost from the get-go.

Nutrition will obviously play a huge roll in your long-term fat-burning goals, but keep in mind that what you do in the gym will have a bigger effect on your physique when you’re out of the gym.

About the Author
Jonathan Lawson has been working in the health and fitness industry for over 20 years; weight training for 21 years, competed in numerous bodybuilding competitions, worked for IRON MAN Magazine for 17 years, co-owns X-Rep.com where he has co-published over 15 e-books and writes a daily training blog.  He has appeared on the covers of, and been featured in, dozens of international magazines, books and e-books.