If breakfast is so important, why do I feel so much better working out without it?
In my years of working out, I have tried a variety of ways to fuel myself most efficiently to create the greatest impact on my performance. Since the morning is my preferred time of day to work out, I have tried menus that consist solely of fruit, consumed a larger breakfast of grains; toast, oatmeal and the like, a smoothie, a power bar, and also tried just water and coffee. It may be surprising, and may not work for everyone, but working out on an empty stomach is my preferred choice. The most recent research also supports what I have found to be true, that working out on an empty stomach gives me more energy, lightness, and endurance compared to having any food in my stomach.
Intermittent fasting has become quite trendy for some compelling reasons. An empty stomach can elicit hormonal changes that optimize fat burning and muscle building. Every time we eat, insulin is released to help with nutrient absorption, taking sugar out of the bloodstream and directing it to liver, muscles and to the fat cells for future use. When we exercise on an empty stomach, we can burn fat more easily and have more energy since our energy won’t be directed to the process of digestion. As long as insulin is being released, our body can’t burn fat. But, another effect of a rise in insulin is a converse decrease in growth hormone. This hormone impacts our performance and is elevated when you exercise on an empty stomach, manifesting in fat burn and muscle metabolism and growth.
Ultimately, you have to figure out what works best for you. Give exercising on an empty stomach a try and notice if you feel lighter and more energized, or how it impacts your performance. It makes sense that if your body is not working to break down any food in your stomach, it should give you more energy to improve your conditioning in the gym, on the yoga mat, or on the field or road.