Eat Before Exercise

Eating Before Exercise: Does This Help Burn More Fat?

Dr. Len Kravitz, Fat Researcher Extraordinaire!

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending a seminar led by Dr. Len Kravitz from the University of New Mexico.

“Who the heck is Dr. Len Kravitz? (you might be asking)

He just happens to be one of the top fat researchers in the world. Yeah, this guy studies everything there is to study about fat on the human body. Why does fat form? What does it do once it’s on our body? And (of course) how can we most effectively get rid of it?

One question he spent considerable time addressing was one that exercisers have been asking for ages: “Will I burn more fat if I exercise on an empty stomach?” Here’s the answer that can put this question to rest…

Will I Burn More Fat If I Exercise On An Empty Stomach?

There is an argument that suggests the answer is YES. When you eat pretty much any food your body’s blood sugar rises. The amount it rises depends on the type of food and quantity you eat, but it always rises to some degree. When this happens the body has 2 potential responses:

Use food as energy OR store it as fat

#1. It can release insulin and begin storing the extra blood sugar as body fat

#2. It can use the sugar as a source of immediate energy

If your body has an excess of blood sugar before you exercise then it will certainly use this sugar as your energy source while you exercise. This seems to have a zero-sum effect. It’s as if you are exercising just to burn the sugar your body recently took in from food.

For this reason, it has been suggested that we should exercise on an empty stomach, therefore our body’s only source of energy will be that which is stored as fat.

Makes sense, right?

This is where the research comes in. Dr. Kravitz has shown that exercising on an empty stomach does burn a higher percentage of fat calories versus exercising after eating. BUT, his studies also showed that the total number of calories being burned is significantly less when we exercise without eating first.

So What Am I Supposed To Do?

Kravitz explained that your goal in exercise should always be about performance. When you exercise more intensely or for a longer duration then you will burn more calories to the point of offsetting any benefit you would achieve by exercising on an empty stomach. Yes, you burn a slightly smaller percentage of fat calories during your exercise, but this difference is insignificant.  The total number of fat calories (and calories as a whole) you will burn is greater when you eat first.

Exercising while hungry simply sets you up for suboptimal workouts. You can’t work as hard on an empty stomach, therefore you don’t get the measurable progress you want.

Does this mean I should eat a big meal before I exercise?

Not at all. In fact, even a very small amount of food can be enough to provide the energy you need to perform better and gain the maximum benefits from your exercise session. Watch this quick video to learn about a really neat research study and 4 perfect pre-workout snacks you can eat to maximize your fat-burning during exercise:

It doesn’t seem like such a small snack would make a difference but the research clearly shows that it does. Just a little be of food energy gives us enough to push harder, while not spiking our blood sugar to the point of negating any fat calories being used up.


If you’re looking to shed some fat then here’s your best plan of action: Wake up, eat a very small snack, and then get your exercise done (before life creeps in and gives you reason to not do it at all!)


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