We’re all familiar with the adage “ You are what you eat.”
After all, some well-meaning soul always feels the need to share this little gem just when you get your hands on Cheetos. Ugh.
However, according to experts, it isn’t just what we consume during a meal that has an impact on our health, it is also the practices and substances we allow entry into our bodies before a meal that can make an astounding difference to our physical and mental well-being.
Which is why we at StyleCraze are here to tell you of the eight seemingly ‘trivial’ things that are a strict no-no if you haven’t eaten anything. And in case you happened to be wondering; technically an empty stomach qualifies as 2 hours post your last meal (1). Also, since we’re just so awesome, we’re also giving tips and tricks you can use when your stomach is empty.
1. Drinking Coffee
Before you ask- yes, this includes decaffeinated coffee! Caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee stimulate the release of the hormone ‘gastrin’, which is responsible for gastric acid secretion. Hence, coffee can promote GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease if taken on an empty stomach (2).
Pro-tip: If you’re one of those folks who just has to drink coffee first thing in the morning before they can function then consume it with cream or milk as the fats in milk will help somewhat counteract the negative effects.
2. Taking Oral Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
Aspirin, ibuprofen and other NSAIDs (read: non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) along with paracetamol, which is generally not considered an NSAID, must not be taken on an empty stomach. These drugs have known potential side effects. For example, they can increase your gastrointestinal risk for ulceration, bleeding, and perforation of the stomach or intestine, which can be fatal (3, 4). Hence, the FDA advises that NSAIDs are best taken with food, which provides a cushioning effect on your stomach lining.
Pro-tip: You don’t need a full-fledged meal, even eating a few crackers while taking the medication helps.
3. Drinking Alcohol
It is universally acknowledged that when you haven’t eaten anything, your body would subsequently absorb alcohol much faster (5). But did you know the absorption rate is accelerated TWICE as fast? It’s roughly equivalent to taking an intravenous shot of alcohol!
Pro-tip: If you’re trapped in a social situation where you can’t really refuse a drink without appearing rude, opt for chilled non-carbonated drinks, as they are absorbed slower. Eating at least a small sandwich before consumption is best, ideally one with butter.
4. Chewing Gum
When you chew gum, the chewing motion signals to your body that you’re about to consume food. Hence, in preparation, it stimulates the release of gastric acid, which floods your stomach lining without the counteracting effect of any food (6). Over time, frequent gum chewing could increase your risk of developing stomach ulcers.
Pro-tip: if you constantly crave chewing gum, then condition yourself to take them post a meal and stick to sugar-free gum.
5. Going To Bed
Going to bed hungry isn’t the best of ideas (7). Low blood glucose levels can not only prevent you from falling asleep, they can also lead to superficial and troubled sleep where you awaken early. Interestingly, insufficient sleep increases the secretion of hunger hormones, which is why one eats more the following day after having skipped dinner the night before (8).
Pro-tip: Stuffing yourself before bed is an equally bad idea, instead drink a glass of warm milk and honey for a night of sound sleep.
There’s no easy way to say this: hunger makes us delusional. Which is why if you’re shopping for groceries, you’re going to end up buying way more food than you actually require.
According to a study conducted by the University of Minnesota, this isn’t restricted to the purchase of food- hunger makes us more acquisitive for non-food items as well. When we’re shopping on an empty stomach, we’re more tempted to buy things for the internal message of “I WANT FOOD” gets pared down to an obstinate “I WANT” (9).
Pro-tip: Make a shopping list in advance and avoid paying with a credit card as research indicates that consumers tend to spend less when paying by cash.
7. Training Intensely
Exercising on an empty stomach won’t help you burn more calories. Instead of fat loss, you will very likely face muscle loss. Additionally, the quality and intensity of your exercise will also deteriorate as your body lacks energy.
Pro-tip: No need for a sit-down meal. Munch on a handful of dates or trail mix before the workout instead.
‘Hangry’ is real, people! Researchers from Ohio State University have shown that partners with lower blood sugar levels will have lesser effective techniques to control anger and overall self-control, leading to more aggression as when compared to having eaten (10).
Pro-tip: Need to have a difficult discussion with your spouse? Hold off until after dinner.
Now you know the 8 cardinal no-nos on an empty stomach. Which sin are you guilty of? Let us know in the comments down below!