Burning fat? It's best to eat before exercise

Fitness Q & A

Health & Fitness

July 04, 2004|By Gailor Large | Gailor Large,Special to the Sun

If I have the energy, is there any reason not to exercise on an empty stomach?

Al Douex Jr., an athletic trainer at Union Memorial Hospital, says that in general a short workout on an empty stomach is OK. However, if your goal is to tone muscle or burn fat, not eating something beforehand is a mistake.

Without sufficient glycogen stores to convert to energy, it is unlikely you will have the strength or endurance to reach the fat-burning phase of your workout. While you don't need to indulge in a five-course meal, make sure you've eaten something (even just a banana or half a bagel) beforehand.

Douex explains: "It is self-defeating for the exercising individual ... to do so on an empty stomach."

Every day I have breakfast on the run, and I always find myself eating carb-laden foods because of it. What can I do? I can't eat eggs and bacon in the car.

Despite the anti-carb trend these days, carbohydrates are an important part of our diets, especially in the morning.

The challenge is to replace simple carbohydrates with complex ones. Rather than grabbing a muffin or croissant with your morning coffee, have a fruit cup and a cafe latte made with low fat or soy milk.

Protein shakes are another quick and easy choice. Yogurt and cottage cheese, which now come in portable containers -- some are even utensil-free -- are also great for protein.

To avoid mid-morning hunger, stir in granola or fresh fruit. While supermarkets carry practically as many protein and breakfast bars as they do brands of cereal, steer clear of sugary energy bars. When possible, go with something natural.

Do you have a fitness question? Write to Fitness, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278. You can also fax questions to 410-783-2519 or e-mail fitness@baltsun.com.

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