Why You Should Not Workout On An Empty Stomach
This is a question I am often asked and sometimes people tell me they feel sick if they eat something before they train. They then go to tell me “they read somewhere it helps to lose fat, it does this, it does that………”
I then tell them: “Do you think any elite athlete would do that for the competition?”
Think of the Tour De France cyclists or even better the Olympics coming up and how athletes spend four years preparing race like the 100m or 200m, which is over in the matter of seconds. Do you honestly think these athletes will be skipping meals, forgetting to eat or having some garbage processed lazy meal? They would not. And why? Because it impairs their performance. Sure their training is important but they understand that the nutrition is critical. Watch how some will eat a banana just before the race or sip some sports drink. This is not because they are hungry but so they can supply necessary nutrients to the muscles they are about to use. Oh and by the way are any of these athletes fat? No they are ripped! I say this all the time, people want to look like a sprinter in the Olympics yet they use a training plan devised for a very slow marathon runner and food plan for that does not look anything like a sprinters. If you want to look like them, you must adopt the lessons they know and abide by. This does not mean you have to train like a professional athlete just stick to the rules.
What are the rules? Well let’s look at some of the key lessons.
1: Never Skip Breakfast
Out of all the meals to get right, breakfast is by far the most important. Yet for many it is the one that is by far the worst. If they even eat breakfast at all. We have become so accustomed to eating high energy carbohydrates loaded with sugar such as cereals, toast, pancakes, croissants with the traditional cooked breakfast becoming a thing of the past. Even worse the cooked breakfast such as bacon and eggs has been given a bad rap because of the “High” Saturated Fat content that we have been told will make you fat and give you high cholesterol. Did you know prior to World War 2 breakfast cereals were only eaten by people as a digestive aid to get things moving which was prescribed by a doctor! Clever marketing and misleading advice has since led to the demise of the cooked breakfast and more specifically Eggs and how they have got a bad rap for all the wrong reasons. A study shows that eating two eggs for breakfast as part of a reduced-calorie diet, helps over-weight adults lose more weight and feel more energetic than those who eat a toast breakfast of equal calories.
This study supports previous research which showed that people who ate eggs for breakfast felt more satisfied and ate fewer calories at the following meal. Compared to the subjects who ate a toast breakfast, men and women who consumed two eggs for breakfast as part of a reduced-calorie diet:
Lost 65 percent more weight
Had a 61 percent greater reduction in BMI
Reported higher energy levels
The eggs breakfast versus the toast breakfasts provided the same number of calories!
Really it is no surprise that people lost so much weight and felt more energetic eating eggs rather than toast for breakfast. This the natural and expected reaction of avoiding grains.
Learning to listen to your body is essential to ensuring your body is satisfied and full. Protein which is found in eggs, are nutrients that are essential to the building, maintenance and repair of your body tissues such as your skin, internal organs and muscles. They are also the major components of your immune system and hormones. They are great for post workout snacks or meals to help rebuild and repair muscle fibres.
2: Never Skip Meals Or Go Longer Than 4 Hours Without Eating
The important thing to understand is blood sugar management and awareness of signals your body is sending you to maintain optimal energy and clarity of mind. When people skip meals, many people don’t even realize that they’re doing it. They tend to just get caught up with what they’re doing. I found this to be particularly common with people that work at computers. They seem to become mesmerized, and interestingly enough there is research out there showing that whenever we are in front of a television screen or even a computer screen for too long our metabolic rate will drop to a halt! Sitting for too long apart from all the physical problems of creating tight hips, hamstrings, shoulders and developing neck and back pain sitting also plays havoc with your metabolism. Sitting for too long slows down the body’s metabolism and the way the enzyme lipoprotein lipase breaks down our fat reserves. And as metabolism goes down your blood glucose levels and blood pressure go up! If people skip meals, it tends to throw them into a blood sugar crisis and elevates cortisol levels to spark the body into eating something to restore the blood sugar drop, otherwise you will go hypoglycemic which gives you the shakes, jittery and basically makes you crazy until you eat. Willpower will not win this battle. This is also why Calorie restriction diets fail for the rapid drop in blood sugar sends you into a crisis. When we elevate cortisol levels beyond optimal, it tends to stimulate a fear response from our instinctual mind, and it can trigger off an emotional rollercoaster that goes on throughout a person’s day and can be quite disruptive in their personal and professional lives.
The quickest way to restore blood sugar is to eat……. you guessed it SUGAR! Sure this restores you quickly but soon you will have the same problem again as the sugar burns too fast! Remember the fastest way to get fat is to start eating sugar!
3: They Always Eat High Quality Protein After A Workout
Elite Athletes like sprinters and anyone wanting to add significant muscle are aware of this and give this as much respect as their training. For without it they will not get the results they are looking for! Eating a high quality protein within 30 minutes of a workout being completed has been proven to be the best time to speed up the repair of damaged tissue and also speed up metabolism.
It appears as though the amino acids found in high quality whey protein activate certain cellular mechanisms (including mTORC-1), which in turn promote muscle protein synthesis, boost thyroid, and also protect against declining testosterone levels after exercise.
This is in stark contrast to athletes who load up on carbs to fuel their workouts. Although popular with many, “carb loading” is a mistake, particularly for people engaged in intense strength training, as you will burn carb fuel very quickly and then “hit the wall.” The same goes for most people who start their day with muffins, toast, or pancakes for example. This type of breakfast typically ignites a vicious cycle of hunger and snacking on even more carbs. And the more you continue eating these carb snacks, the more insulin resistant you become.
The Proper Time to Eat, Before and After Your Morning Workout
In practical terms, consuming 20-30 grams of whey protein with no sugar added 30 minutes before exercise, and another serving 30-60 minutes afterward can help increase both fat burning and muscle building. If you are only going to do one whey meal, then the one after your workout is really crucial. That’s if you are seeking to increase muscle growth with strength training.
During exercise, especially resistance, or strength training, you cause muscle microtrauma. Usually it’s a good thing because this microtrauma actually stimulates muscle development, but this muscle microtrauma impairs glucose utilization in your muscle for about 30 minutes up to an hour, and sometimes more. This is the wrong time to put carb fuel into the muscle. But since we are not putting carbohydrates in the meal it’s fine to have your recovery meal about 30 minutes after exercise.
I hope this article gives you some great ideas and helps you to think of ways that can move you closer to your goal. You must rate Nutrition as important as your training. Just like the Elite athletes do. Sure they train hard but they are very calculated with their nutrition and lifestyle choices. You can learn many great secrets from elite athletes and this would be one of them.