Running in the morning on an empty stomach can be an integral part of your weight loss exercise plan. While there is some debate about the benefits of exercising on an empty stomach, it may help increase your fat burn.
Wake up early and do a slow, steady run before eating breakfast to help your body burn fat instead of more readily available carbs from food. Be sure to eat a healthy breakfast after your workout so your body can refuel and recover.
Running in the Morning
Running first thing in the morning is a great way to start your day, but it does require some preparation. Set your alarm early enough to allow time for your morning run, a healthy breakfast after, and time to shower and get ready for your day. Get dressed in your running clothes and put on proper running shoes that support your body and avoid injury. Fabrics that wick the sweat away from your skin will help keep you dry and cool, and be sure to wear visible colors to keep you safe if you're running on the road.
Don't skip the warm-up. Loosen your body and wake it up by starting with a brisk five-minute walk and stretching, says the American Council on Exercise (ACE). Then, start running slowly and gradually pick up the pace until you've reached your desired speed. Adjust your speed and the length of your run based on your current fitness levels and increase your workout intensity slowly over time. Cool down when you're finished with your run by taking another five-minute walk.
Exercise on an Empty Stomach
To get the most fat-burning benefits from running in the morning on an empty stomach, focus on low-intensity, steady-state exercise, advises ACE. This would equate to a steady jog or easy run. Your body needs fuel to run, so avoid high-intensity exercise on an empty stomach.
Running on an empty stomach may not be the best weight loss solution in the long term. If the body does not have enough fat calories to burn for the run, it may start burning protein, which will slow your recovery time. In addition, if the body doesn't use the available free fatty acids during your run, this fat may be deposited into your abs, counteracting the fat-burning effect you are looking for.
If you are running first thing in the morning before work or school, you may not have time to eat prior to your workout. In this case, be sure to eat a healthy breakfast after your run or allow your body to refuel and ward off hunger later so you can make better food choices throughout your day.
Exercise and Nutrition
There isn't a single meal that works for everyone as pre- or post-run nutrition. Experiment with portions and foods to find what works best for your body and be sure to stay hydrated.
While you can get away with running in the morning on an empty stomach if you are doing a low-intensity workout, your body needs carbohydrates if you are doing high-intensity training or plan to run for more than an hour, advises Medline Plus. Consider sources such as yogurt, fruit juice or a sports drink, low-fat granola or pretzels. If you are running for more than an hour, you may also need carbs during your workout.
Be sure to stay hydrated during your run and throughout the day. You can do this by drinking plenty of water before your run and at each meal and sipping water during your run.