You wake up and the first thing and all you can think about is how soon you can hit the gym.
But then another thought crosses your mind – are you okay to take your pre workout before your early morning gym session instead of breakfast? Or should you eat and go later?
In this article we take a look at the benefits and issues around pre workouts on an empty stomach.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Why take a pre workout?
- When should you take it?
- Can you take a pre workout on an empty stomach?
- Are there any side effects?
Why Take a Pre Workout Supplement?
No matter how motivated you are or how willing you are to get your head down in the gym and grind out those last few reps, a good-quality pre workout will improve your exercise sessions.
Pre workouts are specifically designed to increase energy levels during your workout. They are are a sports supplement formulated to improve athletic ability and increase performance.
Typically, these supplements contain a blend of vitamins, minerals and compounds that have an effect on your body within only a short period of time, so taking one before your workout is simple and easy.
A good pre workout is transparent about what ingredients are included in it so you can make informed decisions about how effective these ingredients are, and how well dosed they are too.
What do they do?
Pre workouts stimulate your nervous system and as such, optimizes endurance, strength, power and focus.
Because you can work harder during your workouts you find that your progress speeds up – your cardio system gets more efficient and you feel fitter as well.
Your muscle mass improves because you can lift heavier and for a higher volume. And you become more productive because you dial in to your session better with heightened motor and cognitive skills.
When Should You Take Your Pre Workout?
Timing is important if you’re wanting to get the best from your supplement.
Because of the type of nutrients that are chosen, they have an affect pretty quickly. You should always check the directions on the label as it can be different recommendations based on ingredient ratios and strengths.
Typically though, you should take your supplement 20-30 minutes before hand, dependent on how tolerant you are to caffeine-based stimulants.
That’s because they’re pretty fast acting and get into your digestive tract and bloodstream pretty quickly.
Is it Safe to Take Pre Workout on an Empty Stomach?
Here’s the problem: you’re getting ready for the gym and you’re just about to smash down your pre workout in anticipation of tearing the weights room up.
But then it dawns on you – you’ve not eaten.
Can you take your pre workout on an empty stomach still? Will it have any side effects?
What’s classed as an empty stomach?
This is an important point because it might mean different things to different people.
It doesn’t necessarily mean an overnight fast, it simply means you haven’t eaten for the last 2 or more hours.
Absorption might be quicker
If you’ve not eaten anything within the last 1-2 hours then the chances are that your pre workout will enter your bloodstream much quicker.
Why? Because without food to slow digestive transit own, your pre workout will pass into your intestines quicker and therefore enter your bloodstream faster.
Why is this important?
There’s nothing worse than taking your pre workout at home before you drive to the gym only for it to kick in whilst you’re stuck in traffic (we know, we’ve been there).
And if you’re planing on training on an empty stomach, chances are you’ll be sat in your car, gripping the wheel tight, repeatedly tapping the steering wheel and stomping your feet like the drummer from Slipknot during a crazy double-kick drum solo.
Pre workouts are a hell of an effective stimulant – but you want to have that energy for the gym, not the highway.
Pre Workouts Whilst ‘Unfed’: Are There Any Side Effects?
Most pre workouts are designed so that if you take them on an empty stomach there are no issues or side effects. It just enters your bloodstream quicker.
That way you can maximize muscle pumps, it’s stimulatory effect and ultimately get going in the gym straight away.
But that said, there are a few things you need to watch out for.
Low blood sugar
If you suffer from a blood-sugar related illness such as hypoglycemia you might find your blood sugar drops too low to train effectively. Even if you’ve not eaten for a good few hours you might find your blood sugar drops. This isn’t anything to do with the pre workout as such, just that you’ve not fueled your body with enough food beforehand.
The result is that you’ll feel dizzy, weak and nauseous. Taking a pre workout on top of those symptoms may make you feel worse.
It’s definitely wise to have a small snack a couple of hours before your workout if you think your blood sugar is at risk of dropping too low.
Digestive system irritation
Some people suggest that taking a pre workout on a empty stomach can make symptoms of digestive disorders worse. That caffeine and other stimulants increase acid production in your gut leading to inflammation of your stomach lining.
And whilst there’s no real evidence to support this, if you have concerns over an existing inflammatory issue then a small snack a couple of hours before will do the trick.
Summary – Can You Take Your Pre Workout on an Empty Stomach?
A good pre workout powers you through your gym sessions. In the battle between you and the iron there’ll only be one winner.
It really is a must have supplement for the hard core fitness lover.
When you take your pre workout on an empty stomach it can enter your bloodstream quicker because its transit through the gut isn’t slowed down by food bulk.
And whilst this means you can get going on your workout quicker, a small snack a couple of hours beforehand will help to keep your energy levels and blood sugar elevated to train even harder.
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