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Myth: Early morning exercise on an empty stomach burns the most fat.

TRUTH: Many myths stem from reality or are vaguely similar to some extreme version of the truth. Well, in this myth the truth is that you do, in fact burn more fat during exercise after fasting, even an overnight fast.  However, you know this statement isn’t true in its entirety or this would be a terrible “myth” post. 

What’s not-so-accurate about this statement? Well, the big picture. This implies that you will burn more body fat, in the immediate and long term futures if you exercise on an empty stomach. That, my friends, is a myth.

Long term fat loss is optimized by well fueled exercise. Here’s how it works:

On an empty stomach, because you have no available carbohydrate and you need to burn energy during exercise, your body turns to its fat stores for calories. Therefore, you go directly into fat burning mode. The thing with burning fat though, is that the breakdown process and use of fat is not as efficient as the body’s use of carbohydrate. So you burn fat, but your body is not able to perform as well as if it had carbs.

When you fuel our body properly, it is able to do more work with greater intensity, so you can burn more calories.  At the end of the day (metaphorically and literally), if the calories you burn are greater than the calories you ingest, you’ll burn fat no matter what.

The key is to create a caloric deficit, and you’re better able to create that deficit during well fueled, intense, and long duration exercise.

BOTTOM LINE: In the short term, you burn more fat exercising on an empty stomach than with a snack, however, eating something small and carbohydrate based provides fuel.  When you’re fueled, you’ll perform better; improved performance leads to more calories burned, which can only be achieved by adequately fueling and hydrating your body.  As for the time of day – choose a time that works for you; whatever time of day is fine as long as it’s a workout regimen that you can stick to.

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