• Fill out the form below and I'll send you my special report, Fat Loss Secrets Exposed, absolutely free.


The TRUTH About Empty Stomach Cardio

Posted by Joel Marion

Over the weekend I hit the gym with my buddy Mikey for a morning cardio workout.

Now, I say “cardio”, but really it was a metabolic resistance training session.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, the simple definition for metabolic resistance training is “cardio with weights”. We’ll cover this more in detail in another update so as not to get too off topic.

So we’re about 10 minutes into the workout and Mikey looks like he’s in pretty bad shape (despite being in really GOOD shape). So I asked him what the deal was.

“I didn’t eat anything for breakfast.”

Me: Why the heck not?

“I thought that’s what you’re supposed to do if you want to burn the most fat from your morning workouts.”

Uh oh.

Perhaps you’re still believing this old myth just like good ol’ Mikey, so allow me to take a moment to dispel it.

The theory behind empty stomach is cardio is simple: supposedly, by doing cardio on a empty stomach, you tap directly into fat stores since glycogen (carbohydrate) stores are somewhat depleted after an overnight fast.

Seems to make sense, but research has proven this to be wrong.

Several studies have shown no difference in substrate utilization (glycogen vs. fat) for those working out on an empty stomach vs. those who eat a small meal prior to their morning workouts.

In fact, one study showed the exact opposite—those who had a small meal first burned more calories and more fat than the empty stomach group.

How can this be?

The reason is rather simple if you think about it. I was kicking butt and taking names with my workout, and Mikey was barely able to get through his. Even if not eating beforehand allowed you to burn more fat (which it doesn’t), the major trade off is performance.

And why does performance matter? Well, if you can’t perform at an optimal level and put forth maximal effort, then you are not going to be burning an optimal amount of calories–period.

The truth is, empty stomach cardio is an outdated philosophy whose theory was proven incorrect by research. Still, there are plenty of people who hold on to the theory despite the available research. Perhaps they’re not aware of it, perhaps they just go by what the fitness and bodybuilding magazines tell them (bad idea); I’m not sure.

Whatever the reason, popular philosophy doesn’t always mean correct philosophy, and this is one such instance.

So I’ll leave you with some practical recommendations:

At the very minimum, have a couple scoops of whey before any morning “cardio” workout.

That said, if it’s still negatively affecting your performance, you need to go a bit further. The meal doesn’t have to be large, but it should contain some complex carbs (oatmeal, etc) along with a small serving of protein.

Give it about a half hour to begin digesting and then hit your workout.

Better performance = more calories burned = more fat loss = improved cardiovascular functioning = even better performance = even more calories burned = even more fat loss.

Don’t be like my friend Mikey and have a crappy workout because you didn’t eat. As I shared with you, the research shows that’s not going to make a difference anyway. Instead, eat your Wheaties (figuratively speaking) and then dominate your workout!

Alright, now it’s comment time:

I want to know:  Do you still do empty stomach cardio? Will you give it up based on this post? Do you notice your performance suffers?

Or maybe you do REALLY well with empty stomach cardio.

Either way, let me know your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below!

Chat with you below!

Your friend,



    • Post a comment!

    • Share this post! Share this post easily via Facebook, Twitter, Email or any social bookmarking site using the above uber widget!

    • Get FREE stuff! Get my Fat Loss Secrets Exposed report and a bunch of other free stuff when you subscribe to this blog at the top of the page!

Related Posts

  • No Related Posts
689 comments - add yours
Reply  |  Quote

Fasted state cardio is good for a slow go session, a walk or even a 30 min run for example where performance isnt what matters, and for big bodybuilders who burn a good amount of calories just by walking or running. if youre thinking about doin a metabolic or hiit kind of cardio off course your performance will suck and in that case a small meal will help.. anyway when fasted take at least bcaa’s its quik and effective

Reply  |  Quote

@ Ali:
BCAA’s.. quick and effective ;)

Reply  |  Quote

I have always found that when I workout in a fasted state I can actually push myself harder and workout at a higher intensity.

Reply  |  Quote

I have trained with both concepts, fasted vs. light complex carb/whey meal. I am more energized and strong with only black coffee and BCAA’s (fasting).

Reply  |  Quote

So after all the debate I will still have my almond milk+whey protein+colustrum and banana before an intense workout, and when I do a short fasting easy run (just cant seem to run with anything in my stomach first thing in the am) once a week but will pop a some branch chains first. Another thing I do sometimes is eat really light like the almond milk protein shake and then eat something else small after working out for awhile (hammer bar or banana, etc.), especially if I’m doing a longer intense bike workout or circuit training with weights. Thanks for all the comments everyone.

Reply  |  Quote

I can do cardio and or resistance training on empty stomach and keep up the proper intensity mostly due to the fact that i perform poorly in workouts if i feel the food in my stomach. I guess this is highly individual and you can train yourself to work out with stuff in your belly but this is my personal preference

Reply  |  Quote

I dont know why, but NOT eating helps to drop weight fast. I lost 40 pounds in about 4 months at OSUT by not eating prior to AM workouts. Prior to breakfast we did alot of cardio (ruck marching for miles w 80lbs of gear, running and Calisthenics/wind sprints) and sessions of cardio (10 minutes to 2 hours) throughout the day (getting smoked). We always ate breakfast, but were very active. Had to “work up an appetite” prior to. One think which seemed to help in the morning w energy and the weight loss was always being well hydrated the night before and during the long cardio events.

PV6 Schmo (Roster 102)

Reply  |  Quote

@ Kelcey:

LOW intensity cardio, performed in a fasted state (Like first thing in the morning) can be a very effective tool for fat loss, especially for individuals who carry above average body fat (>25% in men & >30% in women). The emphasis being LOW intensity cardio (60-65% of max).

The reason it didn’t bode well for the workout outlined in this article is simple. Training which incorporates significant muscular resistance (whether it be free weights, resistance bands, machines, etc) uses/requires fuel (Glucose/Glycogen) to function optimally (anaerobic)! This is the reason “his” training partner felt weak and tired. He had NO fuel to “feed” his muscles while training in a fasted state. LOW intensity cardio (60-65%) will also “attempt” to utilize Glycogen, but since there isn‘t any, it will then turn to the next available source of energy, FAT. An individual with above average fat stores will:
1) begin producing more “crucial fat burning enzymes” during low intensity aerobics AND
2) start “tapping” into their fat stores for a means to “fuel” their aerobic session.

First and foremost, results from this “low intensity cardio” (or ANY cardio for that matter) rests upon the individuals commitment to a “healthy” nutrition/diet plan. Without that, NO program will yield any type of appreciable fat loss. Once this person reaches a more “normal/acceptable” level of body fat, they can then incorporate resistance training, HIIT etc. into their regimen to reduce BF even further.

Personally, I don’t prescribe low intensity cardio for individuals with low BF levels but I DO incorporate for those who carry excessive BF and are looking to reduce.

For ‘athletic’ individuals, the “cardio/training” outlined in the above article is by far, superior to low intensity cardio. However, as I stated previously, Low Intensity cardio DOES have its place in fat loss.

Reply  |  Quote

I’ve actually read a lot of back and fourth on this subject but I’ll always take your word over others. I was just considering adding some early morning cardio to my routine and now I’ll make sure to eat some oatmeal first.

Reply  |  Quote

Hello Joel, I’ve lost 20 pds and I reached my healthy weight but I have a problem: my face is wasted and I look sick even if I’m in shape. Do I have to have a big butt to have a nice face???

Reply  |  Quote

I do empty stomach cardio and love it but only as part of the leangains system. After a fast its been proven to make a difference. Was wondering if you have an experience of IF joel?

Reply  |  Quote

With so many various kinds of workouts to select from it is easy to determine why many people get confused about obtaining a six pack abdominal region appear. There are many kinds of cardio workouts that are streamlined to particularly develop particular muscle mass tissue fiber regions of the belly area to select from.

Reply  |  Quote

Just like every other fitness theory out there, there are studied to support it and studies to disprove it. This one I believe in 100%!
I also believe different things work for different people. If having a small/light meal before morning cardio works for someone, that’s great.
And one last point: having an “empty stomach” is nearly impossible. You have enough food energy from your previous meal to perform “empty stomach cardio” with no problems.

Reply  |  Quote

I not to mention my pals have already been following the best secrets and techniques found on the website while all of a sudden I got a horrible feeling I never expressed respect to the site owner for those strategies. Those men were certainly excited to study them and have in effect quite simply been taking advantage of them. I appreciate you for truly being really helpful and also for finding these kinds of incredible subject areas millions of individuals are really eager to learn about. My sincere apologies for not saying thanks to you earlier.

You must be logged in to post a comment.

© 2010 and Beyond. Premium Web-based Coaching, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Read our entire privacy policy  here