running on an empty stomach

Can running on an empty stomach boost your weight loss?

July 24. 2022

A regular running routine is a great way to stay fit and prevent chronic diseases. Aside from being good for your health, it’s also very convenient as you need minimal equipment, and it can easily fit into any schedule. You can run virtually wherever and whenever you like. If you prefer running early in the morning, you may wonder whether you should have breakfast before your running session or not. What is better for you if you are trying to lose weight: running on an empty stomach, or with your morning dose of calories? You have probably heard people strongly preferring either of the two options, so what should you choose? To help you decide, Chicago’s best weight loss expert explains how running affects weight loss and what are the advantages and drawbacks of running on an empty stomach.

Running for weight loss: Which style should you choose?

Running burns more calories than most other forms of exercise. Because of that, it is the preferred form of physical activity for most people who want to lose weight. By running for 30 minutes, you can burn between 350 and 400 calories more than by playing basketball or cycling. Not only that, but your body continues to burn calories even after you stop running. Also, running is very effective in melting body fat, especially stubborn belly fat. Running can also help if you are wondering how to intensify phentermine, as its effects tend to decline over time. Running can prevent you from becoming resistant to phentermine and reaching a plateau in your progress. So if you have decided to start a running routine, which style of running should you choose? There are several of them, and we will now list them and explain each.

Base run

This is the basic, everyday running style. It refers to short to medium-length runs of approximately 5 or 6 miles, done at a pace that you find comfortable.

Long run

This is a bit more of a challenge. A long run is done at the same comfortable pace as the base run but is approximately twice as long.

Interval runs

These are short, fast runs with light jogging intervals in between.

Hill repeats

Just like interval runs, short, high-intensity runs, but done uphill.

Recovery run

After a challenging, intense run, you switch to a light run in order to get some active rest and add more length to your overall run.

Progression run

This style of running imitates running competitions. You start slow and then increase your speed as the run progresses.

So which of these styles should you choose? It all depends on what you want to accomplish. Base runs are always the best option, to begin with, and then you can progress to other types as you get more into shape. Long runs are good for overall health and significantly improve your endurance. Interval runs, especially hill repeats, increase your body strength and running speed. High-intensity running styles are excellent for weight loss as they continue to burn calories for up to 48 hours after the workout! Such runs put a lot of pressure on your muscles which then use a lot of energy to recover. However, you shouldn’t try them initially; instead, start slowly and add more challenges as you progress.

How does running on an empty stomach impact weight loss?

Running on an empty stomach has become an increasingly popular habit. For some people, this is simply because they don’t have much free time, so they have to go running first thing in the morning, but many choose to do so because they believe it will help them lose weight. So does running on an empty stomach burn more fat than running after a meal? Although this may look like simple, straightforward logic, it’s much more complicated in reality. You might be tempted to conclude that running on an empty stomach must burn more fat simply because you are using your glycogen stores for fuel instead of the calories from the meal you would have otherwise eaten. However, weight loss is a long-term process, and many factors play a part. There is no simple answer to that question.

Running on an empty stomach will make you burn fat instead of carbs during the running session itself, thus accelerating weight loss. But weight loss is not a momentary thing, so throughout the day, and especially over the course of several days, the progress you have temporarily made will most likely be nullified. For instance, running without breakfast means you will have less body energy and be able to run much less, so you will burn fewer glycogen stores. In addition to that, you will be agonizingly hungry after the running, and most likely, you will feel an increased hunger throughout the day. That means you will consume more calories in the rest of the than you would if you had breakfast.

On the other hand, if you eat before running, you will have more energy and be able to run longer, thus burning more calories, including glycogen stores. Also, you will burn more calories after the run since you have pushed your body further, and you won’t feel as hungry as if you had run on an empty stomach. So at the end of the day, it all comes down to the math of calories consumed and burned, though not in a single running session, but over the course of days.

Advantages of running on an empty stomach

So what are the pros and cons of pre-workout eating – or fasting? After discussing the logic behind caloric intake and caloric expenditure, let’s look at the potential benefits of running on an empty stomach, other than losing weight.

It reduces digestive problems

Our stomachs seem to have minds of their own, and sometimes they don’t act as we would like them to. For some people eating before running can cause digestive problems, even if it’s only a small snack. So running on an empty stomach may feel more comfortable for them. They don’t risk cramping, bloating, diarrhea, or other problems. Also, you may consider having a protein drink before your workout if eating causes problems.

It improves blood sugar control

Speaking about any type of cardio done on an empty stomach, people are often concerned that it may cause their blood sugar levels to drop significantly and cause hypoglycemia. However, studies have shown that the opposite is true. Doing cardio on an empty stomach helps balance blood sugar and insulin levels to a certain extent. Still, that’s a sensitive health issue and should always be discussed with your doctor first.

It is energizing

Instead of a slow, cozy morning routine, you leave home first thing in the morning and hit the running track. That way, you jumpstart your day, and once you are done with your running session, you are energized and ready for your daily activities. However, not everyone might feel this way. For some people, it may cause them to feel energy depleted early on. It varies from person to person.

It makes you tougher

Both physically and mentally. Any inconvenience you manage to overcome and finish what you meant to do toughens you up, at least a little bit. That’s exactly what weight loss is all about, working for your goals even if it’s uncomfortable. No progress happens in the comfort zone.

Drawbacks of running on an empty stomach

Still, running on an empty stomach can also have some adverse effects on your health. Let’s lay out the potential risks you may be facing if you decide to skip breakfast before your morning running session. Keep in mind the following:

It can increase cortisol levels

Whenever you are stressed, your adrenal glands produce cortisol, the so-called stress hormone. If cortisol levels are regularly high over a more extended period, your body will start storing more fat, especially on the belly, as it is getting constant signals that it must prepare for tough times. Running on an empty stomach presents certain stress for the body, and it may raise your cortisol levels. But listen to your body. A small amount of discomfort is beneficial, but if something feels highly uncomfortable, it will do more harm than good.

It can cause hormonal disbalances

Besides cortisol, chronic stress put on your body can cause other hormones to act unpredictably. Still, it’s all up to balance. Listen to your body, find your pace, and you won’t experience any problems.

It can be bad for muscle mass

This is one of the most serious concerns regarding running on an empty stomach. Your fastened state can cause your body to break down protein for energy, which will lead to a change in your body composition in terms of a loss of muscle mass.

It can negatively impact performance

Naturally, running without adequate fuel will limit your performance. The same distance will present a much more significant challenge to the body when you’re fasting than when you are fed. If you have a set distance for each session, it will be much harder to meet it. However, if you like challenges, that may not be a bad thing.

Final thoughts

Running on an empty stomach is nowadays preferred by many runners, but its results aren’t as straightforward. It does indeed accelerate weight loss, but only at the moment. Over days, any temporary progress can easily be lost. Still, running without a meal can have benefits, such as making you more energized for the day and elevating potential digestive problems caused by eating before a workout. However, you should keep in mind that it presents a significant deal of stress to the body and, as such, could cause excessive cortisol levels and other hormonal disbalances. So, the best advice is to pay attention to your body, see how it reacts to different challenges and set up your own pace. If you’d like to learn more about running and weight loss, schedule a call, and we will gladly answer any questions you have.

Nurse Walton


Nurse Walton

Born and raised in Chicago, IL, Chanay received her Practical Nurse licensure and went to work in clinical specialties such as Home Health, Assisted Living, Long-Term Care and Dialysis Centers. Through this work, she realized the importance of diet, nutrition and weight loss among her patients. This led her to open A Better Weigh, Inc. Medical Weight Loss Center in 2009.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *