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Biggest workout sin: An empty stomach

It's what you eat, how much you eat and when you eat that matters.


Updated:February 26, 2009, 5:28 PM IST
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Biggest workout sin: An empty stomach
It's what you eat, how much you eat and when you eat that matters.

Have you heard people saying that you should work out on an empty stomach, if you want to burn the maximum calories possible? It's a big myth.

"A pre-workout meal is just as important as the workout itself," says celebrity fitness trainer Rujuta Diwekar.

It's what you eat, how much you eat and when you eat that matters.

Rujuta tells you what to keep in mind when planning a pre-workout meal.

Gymming on an empty stomach is a no-no

Fasting lowers your blood sugar level. Exercise also lowers your blood sugar level. The two together are a deadly combo. You need to eat in order to keep your blood sugar level on track during your workout.

Low blood sugar level can result in – injury due to poor judgement.

Say you have set the treadmill to a particular speed. If you are not moving at that same speed (i.e. you are either moving faster or slower), you could get thrown off the treadmill.

Or something as simple as keeping the dumbbell back on the rack can turn disastrous. If you lose judgement and place it off the rack, it could come crashing down on your foot.

These are small injuries but they could set your workout back by a week.

You need to employ all your muscle fibres for an effective workout. If your blood sugar levels are low, this will not be possible and calorie burning will not be as effective.

Eat right

For an effective workout, you need a slow, sustained release of blood sugar. So make sure to include foods with a low glycemic index in your pre-workout meal.

A nutritious pre-workout meal can increase your exercise performance by upto 20 per cent.

For instance, if you usually run for 20 minutes on the treadmill, you will be able to do 25 minutes at the same effort level or if you generally lift 5 pound weights, you will be able to lift 7 pounds.

You must finish your meal about two hours before your workout so that the food is digested and not in your stomach. This will help the blood flow freely to all the working muscles.

Don't leave a gap of more than three hours between your pre-workout meal and workout.


If you are doing an early morning workout, make sure to have a light early dinner the previous night. In the morning, you could have a pre-workout meal consisting of fruits. You won't need to worry about working out soon after because fruits get digested in 15 to 20 minutes.

Make sure to drink plenty of water before, during and after your workout. It's just a myth that drinking lots of water before a workout causes abdominal pain. The pain in the upper part of the abdomen is usually because of working out too fast. Your muscles demand more oxygen than your lungs can produce, causing the pain.

Wondering how much water to drink? Just drink enough to stay hydrated.

After a heavy duty workout your breathing will be heavy. Wait for your breathing to regularise a bit before you drink water. Otherwise, you might land up choking on the water.

Before your workout, avoid eating:

Sweet foods: They cause a sharp rise in blood sugar levels followed by a sharp fall. This can be harmful.

Oily foods:They are heavy on the stomach and may take longer to digest.

New foods: If you haven't tried something before don't eat it before a workout because it might not go well with your stomach.

More lifestyle stories:

Health Watch: Are you eating the right colours?

Food Guide: For the single professional

Stressed at work? Try some soul therapy

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