Exercising on an empty stomach may be good for male fitness, says a new study conducted by the Massey University (MU). “Training is all about putting the body under stress, (on empty stomach) not going faster,” says Steve Stannard, associate professor at MU’s new School of Sport and Exercise, who led the study.
The researchers followed two groups of novice cyclists as they trained over four weeks. One group ate a high carbohydrate breakfast before training, while the other group trained early in the morning on an empty stomach.
The results showed that those riders who did their training before breakfast were ultimately able to store higher levels of muscle glycogen than those who ate breakfast just before training each day. The riders who trained before breakfast also showed a bigger improvement in peak power, and ability to use oxygen.
While the muscles of male study participants who trained on empty stomach showed an improved ability to burn fat, the female cyclists improved their muscle’s fat-burning capacity when they trained after breakfast rather than before.
“In an endurance event, such as road race cycling, the person who can start the race with the highest level of glycogen in their muscles, yet have the greatest ability to burn fat has a huge advantage,” Stannard says.
“What our results suggest is that, for men at least, training on empty stomach encourages muscles to adapt in a more accelerated fashion than if training was always done after eating a high carbohydrate meal.”
As to the female participants showed different result wasn’t known, but could be related to subtle differences in fuel utilisation by muscle which seems to be associated with the sex hormones.