Doing HIIT On an Empty Stomach?

hiit on an empty stomach

Deciding whether to work out on an empty stomach? well this decision is one that needs to be looked at very carefully. Sometimes it’s a decision that is made out of lack of planning while sometimes the decision can be made from a lack of information. Well, today we’re going to seek out the correct information. So that next time before you do a HIIT workout, you’ll decide on whether or not you should have a quick and easy meal beforehand.

Aside from those that try to eat a balanced meal well in advanced to a workout, there are two other types of people. The people who choose to workout on an empty stomach because of the preconceived notion that you’ll lose more and those that will eat fast food just before they workout as way to get energized.

Firstly, working out on an empty stomach is not a great idea because you may find yourself on the floor tired and fatigued, but we’ll get more into that a bit later.

Secondly, eating any junk food, or “bad food” for that matter is never a good choice.Yes, it taste good but after you eat it, you’ll more than likely feel bad and the fat content is more than likely going to be high, as for example a burger. We’ll get into that more a little later.

So Really, Should You Workout With No Food In You?

No, you really shouldn’t workout on an empty stomach, but you shouldn’t workout with a full stomach either. That is the case with any type of fitness, but most especially true when your doing HIIT. Again if you need a reminder of what hiit is? It’s high intensity workouts in a short period of time.  Let’s look at it from a different perspective. Have you ever gone on a roller coaster ride with an empty stomach? you probably felt nauseous after the ride because of the high speeds that you were going at. On the other hand if you’ve ever been on a roller coaster and had just eaten, you may want to vomit as the ride proceeds. What both of those situations have in common is the amount of stress that is being put on your body, it’s high, and your body needs to be prepared for it. How does your body prepare? well it simply just needs energy and time to store that energy. Although a HIIT exercise is not as crazy as a roller coaster ride. It still demands much out of your body.

The Science Behind It All

What happens when you start HIIT? Well, your body being the amazing machine that it is will first start pulling energy from the carbs that are stored in your body and proteins as well (but mainly from carbs). This is great as carbs give your body the much needed energy to complete HIIT exercise. If your carb reserves are depleted then your body will start to pull from fat. Now the reason your body will pull from the carbs first is because of it’s easy access that they body has to it. In glucose form it stays in your blood as a fast and easy way to access fuel for the body. When the carbs are used up your body will start going after the fat stores that you have in you body. So why not just leave the carbs out before a HIIT routine? well because carbs will give you that burst of energy needed quickly and easily.

When and What Should I Eat

The ideal time to eat is 30 minutes before you workout. This gives the body enough time to absorb the nutrients. Ideally you’ll eat something of a snack or a small meal. Here are some examples:

  • Tuna Sandwich
  • Protein Bar (Healthy Protein Bars)
  • Sports Drink (i.e. Gatorade – 16oz max)
  • Protein Smoothie
  • Whole Grain Crackers

These examples will provide you with a quick burst of energy.


Remember the goal of HIIT is to promote metabolic changes so that even when you aren’t working out, you still have your body engaged on burning fat. Give your body the fuel that it needs and it will reward you back. Always stay away from heavy fast food that will slow you down in a workout and be counter productive to what you want to do and always have fun!

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