Can I run on an empty stomach?

This question is about Running

Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD, Freelance Writer

You can run on an empty stomach, as research shows that people who fasted and trained at lower intensity levels (50%-70% of maximum heart rate) had better endurance levels compared to those who ate before going on a run [1]. This means that if your run is under 60 minutes, you may be able to run on an empty stomach and immediately refuel afterwards with little detriment to performance.

However, if your run is over 60 minutes (or if you exceed 80% of your maximum heart rate), it’s recommended to eat some carbohydrates and electrolytes (in the form of a sports drink or gel) mid-run to maintain energy.

Keep in mind that if you feel light-headed, dizzy, or disoriented, stop to refuel and rehydrate, as these are signs that your body needs food.

Man running in yellow sleeveless top and black shorts, with Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background

  1. Zouhal, H., Saeidi, A., Salhi, A., Li, H., Essop, M. F., Laher, I., Rhibi, F., Amani-Shalamzari, S., & Ben Abderrahman, A. (2020). Exercise Training and Fasting: Current Insights. Open access journal of sports medicine11, 1–28.