All you can think about is hitting that snooze button on that 5.30 am alarm. Rolling out of bed on a cold morning to get to the gym by 6 am is half the battle. There’s no time to eat, and coffee isn’t going to do the trick of jazzing you up for the gym. So, you turn to the magical pre-workout. But wait, should you take this without eating?
You should only take pre-workout on an empty stomach if you don’t suffer from gastrointestinal stress or have a high tolerance to stimulants like caffeine. Otherwise, avoid taking pre-workout on an empty stomach.
How do you decide whether you should take a pre-workout on an empty stomach?
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Should You Take Pre-Workout On An Empty Stomach?
In my experience, you should not take pre-workout on an empty stomach, especially if you are sensitive to caffeine. It heightens my anxiety, gives me the jitters, and makes my heart feel like it will beat through my chest.
Shortly after, I experience a next-level crash in energy, feeling tired and lethargic. It’s just not worth it. However, if you have a high tolerance to stimulants like caffeine, taking a pre-workout on an empty stomach might be viable.
But like how I don’t recommend doing fasted cardio, I wouldn’t recommend going to train in a fasted state anyway. So, having a meal or snack and then taking your pre-workout is the best option in my experience.
Why Take Pre-Workout On An Empty Stomach?
Many lifters will take pre-workout on an empty stomach when they train first in the early morning. This boosts energy and focus leading into their workouts, especially if you are training fasted.
Further, the pre-workout is absorbed faster because the stomach is empty, leading to the stimulants having a near-immediate effect. While this fast action may be beneficial if you wake up and head straight to the gym, you have not fueled yourself with any food, causing this energy surge to fade quickly.
Is It Safe To Take A Pre-Workout On An Empty Stomach?
It is safe to take a pre-workout on an empty stomach, but you may experience unpleasant side effects. For example, the symptoms I presented above through my experiences doing this are the jitters and heightened anxiety, followed by a huge energy crash.
Others may experience nausea, stomach pain, or even diarrhea. This is all highly individual, and you will only know once you try this for yourself. However, since taking a pre-workout on an empty stomach isn’t necessary, you don’t need to see for yourself if you don’t want to.
One way to potentially combat some of the side effects (not all) is to pair a pre-workout with L-theanine. L-theanine takes the edge off caffeine and reduces jittery and anxiety-related symptoms of caffeine while working synergistically to enhance focus and attention .
Another way to reduce side effects would be using an organic pre-workout with limited ingredients. For example, only having caffeine and a couple of other non-stimulatory ingredients.
I recommend lifters not to take a pre-workout on an empty stomach. It is best practice to eat and drink something first before ingesting a strong stimulant. This will give you an even boost of energy instead of a significant spike followed by a quick crash.
1. Mason, R. (2001). 200 mg of Zen: L-theanine boosts alpha waves, promotes alert relaxation. Alternative & Complementary Therapies, 7(2), 91-95.