Do you burn more fat on an empty stomach?

14 11 2012

There has been much debate as to whether cardio on an empty stomach can burn fat more effectively. Some argue it limits fat burning potential with a decrease in performance.  I really wanted to understand this topic more and so the below, research will highlight some key findings that may help us better understand this.

Carbohydrate is the main nutrient that fuels our exercise, while fat can fuel low intensity exercise for long periods of time. Therefore these two components are used to generate energy for muscle contraction during exercise. For endurance based exercise performed at a moderate intensity, you obtain more than half of the energy needed from glycogen (stored energy from carbohydrates). The rest will come from the fats. Taking this into account, once your glycogen stores are depleted by fasting overnight, or going several hours without eating, fatty acids break down in the body and are used as a secondary energy source. As workout intensity increases your body will then rely more on carbohydrates to fuel it.

One study reviews the efficacy of performing cardio on an empty stomach early in the morning. The theory, as mentioned above, is that there is a greater shift in energy utilization from carbohydrates allowing more stored fat to be used as fuel.

What did the study find?

Essentially a study was conducted into the fat burning response of six moderately trained individuals in a fed versus fasted state to different training intensities. The participants cycled for 2 hours at varying intensities on four separate occasions. During two of the trials, they consumed a high-glycemic carbohydrate meal at 30, 60, and 90 minutes of training, once at a low intensity and once at a moderate intensity. During the other two trials, participants remained fasted for 12–14 hours before exercise and for the duration of training.

The results in the low-intensity trials showed that although lipolysis (the breakdown of fats) was suppressed in the fed state compared with the fasted state, fat oxidation (utilization of the fats) remained similar between groups until 80–90 minutes of cycling. Only after this point was a greater fat oxidation rate observed in fasted participants. On the other hand, during moderate-intensity cycling, fat oxidation was not different between trials at any time.

More recent studies show the effect of pre-exercise and during exercise carbohydrate consumption on fat oxidation.

In another study seven endurance- trained participants cycled for 120 minutes at a moderate intensity, followed by a high intensity cycle where participants pedalled as fast as possible. There were four separate tests and participants were given a placebo and a carbohydrate drink at different intervals before and during exercise. The study was carried out in a double- blind fashion with trials performed in random order. As shown in the first study discussed, results showed no evidence of impaired fat oxidation associated with consumption of carbohydrate either before or during exercise.

What can we conclude from the studies?

Currently the studies do not support the theory that training early on an empty stomach burns any more fats than if carbohydrates were ingested. Although Lipolysis (breakdown of fats) was shown to increase in low-intensity exercise on an empty stomach and suppress in the fed state compared with the fasted state, fat oxidation (utilization of the fats) remained similar between groups. Taking this into account, training in the morning with depleted glycogen stores not only impairs your physical performance it has also been shown to have negative effects on those concerned with muscle strength and size. Concentration levels may be lower and you will not be able to work to your full capacity with the net result being less calories burned and lowering fat loss potential.

I hope this has given some insight into doing cardio fasted vs. after food and although the limitations with research are apparent there are some key points highlighted that I hope will help you with your training.



Get Lean Eat Clean – Turkey Meatloaf

10 08 2012

I am always looking at different things to cook as my diet can get pretty bland at times. A few weeks a go I saw a friend eat this and so I thought I would give it a go. The great thing about this dish is that you have readily available portions as an when you need them. If you require quick and easy meals regularly through the day or are on the go then this recipe is perfect.


500g minced turkey (I made two portions so used 1kg)
3 egg whites
2 chopped green peppers
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp dry yellow mustard
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp garlic powder (2 cloves minced)
1 small red onion (finely chopped)
2 celery stalks (finely chopped)
1 bag of mixed seeds

Preheat oven to 165 degrees.
Spray deep baking tray with low cal spray or olive oil.
Mix all your ingredients together in a large bowl.
Bake for around 40 minutes.


As Turkey is the main ingredient here I wanted to just highlight the fact it contains a high amount of one particular amino acid called tryptophan. Essentially this is an amino acid that assists with a better quality of sleep which therefore in turn allows for more growth hormone to be produced by the body which assists with fat loss.

I try and buy  Organic meats when I can as the birds are grass fed and will therefore contain more CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) which assists with the metabolism of fat to energy. Breast meat contains less fat and is therefore lower in calories, have some turkey in your evening meal for the best fat burning effects!

Turkey Meatloaf - get lean

The rise of the obsessive male eater…

9 06 2012

Man need meat

The stereotypical male menu – consisting of meat and not a lot else would you agree? Times are changing now and I think men are the more nutritionally aware sex. Don’t get me wrong, women are still well practised when it comes to counting calories, crash dieting and skipping meals but men have discovered weight-loss strategies beyond this.

At the extreme end of the scale, hospital admissions for eating disorders in males are up 16% in a year — that’s the bad news. But most male dieting is less extreme, more health-conscious, and therefore more successful, than the average woman’s, according to the weight-loss expert Dr John Briffa.

“For most men, it is not about wanting to look like the guy on the front of Men’s Health,” he says. “They just want to feel comfortable taking their shirt off on the beach and feel healthier generally. Men are incredibly realistic: they know they don’t have the time to do what it takes to look like David Beckham.” Briffa (2012)

Personally, I dont feel men are pressured as much by idealised images in the same way that women are. However, the fact is, the ‘mens health’ body is an unavoidable part of our culture. If its not David Beckham plastered over billboards and magazines in his pants, its that ‘everyday’ guy on the front of Mens health that makes you think, I can do that! The fact is, if you want to be a contender in life these days, you need to be living a healthier life and change for the better. Toby Wiseman, the editor of Men’s Health, does not agree that this has made men more vain and inclined to diet. “It is nothing to do with fashion,” he says, and everything to do with “healthy, goal-oriented eating”, which he believes should be celebrated. However, there is something about the way men watch their weight — their enthusiasm for a no-carbs rule or a dairy ban, and their ability to stick to a programme until they see results — that is mildly depressing for the females who have to live with them. Wiseman (2012)

The tables have turned

Men watching their weight has now messed with one of the fundamental jobs women had: men indulge and women try to stop them.  One of the standard requirements as a man used to be a healthy appetite along with them being able to handle their drink. Now, men are more fussy than the women calorie counting. Its like they have trained themselves. All in all, there eating habits are more similar to a teenage girl than a man. Men like goals and the aim to lose weight or tone up or just be more healthy sure has changed things.

The main difference between the sexes are that women associate dieting with hunger and torture. Men associate it with results and juicy meat. Men actually use this as a hobby with an in-built incentive seeing what foods they can get away with. They are fascinated with the hidden calories in fruits like Avacado’s and nuts.

I have a friend that will not even let his girlfriend cook with butter and hovers in the kitchen like a fly when she is cooking. Constantly analysing what she is using just incase she slips him some goose fat. Whether its to transform their body or just to exercise some control its becoming more and more prominent. Above all, they are getting good at it, who knew.

Dessert a la protein

7 05 2012

I think we can all say that we enjoy a good dessert  and how about one that is good for you? Not possible you say? Well I want to share my very tasty recipe with you. This is not your usual sweet however, It is protein based and great for anyone who trains hard and wants to keep their muscles fed over the night time starve.


  • 2 scoops of chocolate casein protein powder
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1 large teaspoon of almond butter
  • 8 crushed almonds
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of cinnamon

This takes just 5 minutes to make and its so simple. Pour two scoops of casein into a bowl and add 5 egg whites. Stir the mixture as best you can until the mix has thickened. Add 1 large teaspoon of almond butter and then mix. Pop the bowl into the microwave for 60 seconds. Take the bowl out of the microwave and add the 8 crushed almonds and pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon. Mix again and pop it back into the microwave for another 90 seconds. The pudding should have risen nicely and should be moist inside. Be careful though as the bowl will be super hot!

The nutritional benefits 
  • Casein Protein – This type of protein digests very slowly meaning its ideal for just before bed.
  • Egg whites – Used to give the dessert a nice fluffy texture as well as bumping the protein content up
  • Almond butter/almonds – These healthy fats are key for slowing the digestion down further. Other benefits of almonds include skin and nail care, blood pressure regulation, and being rich in fiber.
  • Pinch of cinnamon – Other than giving a great flavour, cinnamon supports the digestive process and is a great anti-inflammatory
  • Pinch of nutmeg – Nutmeg is another spice that has a variety of healing properties and It is useful for insomnia, increasing circulation and lowering blood pressure.
There are other many ways you can use similar ingredients to make healthy puddings and I will be sharing these also. With the summer coming how about a nice cold ice-cream textured one? More to come. Feel free to comment and ask any questions.

Protein Dessert

Keeping focused in the gym..

12 04 2012

Entering the lions cage

I walked into the gym today, that stale smell of festering sweat and grime hit me like a giant custard pie in the face. Always on edge, the moment I walked through the door, I could sense hostility and rage in the air. Now im not going to say what gym I go to for obvious reasons but I think I have seen cleaner student halls than this! The machines wouldn’t look out of place in a small town called bedrock let alone most of the brainless meatheads that are grunting and snarling! For some reason the gym is thriving! Its absolutely packed out every evening and now I think I know what a battery hen feels like.

After battling the dirty looks and 3rd world facilities it was time to get focused which is easier said than done. Do you find it easy to focus yourself in the gym? If not, I have written a few easy steps to help with keep you on track and stay focused to take on any challenge.

Keeping a training diary

Amongst all of the distractions listed above its a constant battle to remain focused on the goal ahead. So being clear on your goal is imperative. Its important to keep the wider picture in mind. Imagine it like planting a seed. It takes time to grow and you need to nurture it to get it to grow and develop into a beautiful plant of flower. Keeping a diary is a great way to visualise what you need to aim for. Whether it be squatting 5 more Kilos or cycling 2 more minutes if its written down its there in black and white.

Timing it right 

Going to the gym is your time to focus on training and your goals for a small part of the day. Don’t think about problems or troubles from the day as this is your time to get away from it! Pick a time of the day when you feel you can train with a clear mind. it might be after work when you want to escape and unwind or before work when you have a fresh mind from a good nights sleep. Finding your routine is key and you need to figure out the optimal time for your training to benefit the most. If you feel there is never a good time for you then you may want to reassess your goals!

Pump up the jam

Music in my opinion makes a training session. I wait for that base to kick in and boom im lifting strong and trying to hold back from shouting out the lyrics! Create your playlist to match the training you are doing. If you are taking part in endurance training then think about something that keeps you going over a distance. For explosive weight training I like to use music with a quick pace and beat. So get your playlist tailored for your goal.

Form, technique and more technique 

When I first started training, my coach at the time used to constantly stress the importance of practicing good form as to avoid any unwanted injuries. I used to give it the old ”yeah yeah” because I knew better right? Wrong. Once you have an injury (and I have had a few) it can be hard to shift and can halt your training and crush your confidence. Concentrating on form and technique helps you keep focused on the task in hand. Those sunbed soaked, hair free, pretty boys flexing their pecs in the mirror might look ridiculous but the mirrors in the gym are great to check on your form and make sure you are completing the exercises properly and keeping you focused.

Finding focus will find results

Training requires processive increases in workload to progress and see results. The classic saying you dont know where your going if you dont know where you’ve been comes to mind. Planning is essential and keeping a log will complement this. If you find yourself standing around on your phone texting then you know you have lost focus.

Have you had any issues with focusing on training? Let me know.

11 04 2012


A common problem I have encountered for a while in the work place is ‘crashing’ mid afternoon. It is sometimes unpredictable and brutal and it takes no prisoners! Being sat at a desk all day, I especially notice this after lunch when the formidable ‘wall of doom’ faces you. The shear inevitable looming for most of us has just become a part of our lives and many people just accept it. It may not happen for all of us and if it doesn’t then consider yourself lucky. However for those that face this demon, I have taken a quick look at how we can tame the beast.

Looking at research it can be put forward that the primary cause of the mid-afternoon crash is diet-related. Another major factor can be due to having only carbohydrates for breakfast and no protein. How does this affect us?

After a long nights sleep our bodies have gone…

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