Study Says When You Supplement Is Crucial

Updated: May 6, 2020

The Truth About Strontium Supplements

Study Says When You Supplement Is Crucial

Apparently it’s better to arrive at the gym on an empty stomach if you want to speed up fat burning and weight loss. And who doesn’t want to do that, right? But new evidence states that if you work out having skipped breakfast, you may be losing not only fat, but bone density too!

One of the benefits of what is called ‘intermittent fasting’ is that you accelerate weight loss, kind of by tricking your own body. And that’s the intention if you hit the gym in the morning before eating.

The theory is that the energy you expend to lift weights comes from carbs. So working out on empty means, because carbs are not available, your energy must come from elsewhere. The ‘elsewhere’ is the only thing left that’s available – stored fat.

The most likely and convenient way to follow this is to exercise in the morning, as you’ve been inadvertently fasting at least 8 hours since dinner the night before. That means come morning, your stomach has no carbs in it, so your body has no choice but to metabolize and burn fat for energy to lift that dumbbell when at the gym.

The Rub

That’s all great, except a new study points out that high-intensity exercise can decrease bone mineral density, as a result of calcium loss during workouts. (1) Excessive sweating during exercise is usually considered a good thing, except that this is one of the several ways we lose calcium.

The thinking is that if you skip breakfast before the gym, your stomach is empty of carbs, but also of calcium that breakfast foods provide. You start to sweat and lose a certain amount of calcium as you do; a natural operation of your body. However, the study suggests that if you don’t counter that loss by consuming calcium before, then you may be risking a deficit, and bone loss.

Can’t I Do It After?

Does supplementing or eating calcium-rich foods immediately afterward solve the problem?

According to recent research, apparently not.

A new study funded by the National Institutes of Health and the American College of Sports Medicine looked at 52 men from 18 to 45 years old. They were assigned randomly to take 1,000 milligrams of calcium and 1,000 IU of vitamin D either half an hour before or one hour after working out. The results showed taking 1,000 milligrams of calcium and 1,000 IU of vitamin D before exercise resulted in less bone loss than taking the same an hour after.

The lead researcher Dr. Vanessa Sherk states:

“Taking calcium before exercise may help keep blood levels more stable during exercise, compared to taking the supplement afterwards, but we do not yet know the long-term effects of this on bone density.”

Ingesting some amount of calcium before your workout may be wise according to this study, but why the vitamin D you may be wondering? Because D is essential for the calcium to absorb properly and get to the bones where you need it – and not your soft tissues and arteries, where you really don’t need it. (2)

Calcium taken without the appropriate amounts of vitamin D is believed to be a contributing factor to arterial calcification and cardiovascular issues. It takes D, as well vitamin K2 to make sure the calcium goes to your bones, and stays there.

This National Institutes of Health is potentially groundbreaking for its insight on when we should supplement. Dr. Sherk said “The timing of calcium supplementation, and not just the amount of supplementation, may be an important factor in how the skeleton adapts to exercise training,”

The Value of Experimentation

No two people are the same, and with nutrition and exercise that’s true also. So if you have been going to the gym without eating, you may want to try alternating and drinking a power shake beforehand that will have some calcium (as well as many other nutrients) in it.

Then watch and listen to your body to see what approach is best for you.



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This article features advice from our industry experts to give you the best possible info through cutting-edge research.

Lara Pizzorno
MDiv, MA, LMT - Best-selling author of Healthy Bones Healthy You! and Your Bones; Editor of Longevity Medicine Review, and Senior Medical Editor for Integrative Medicine Advisors.,
Dr. Liz Lipski
PhD, CNS, FACN, IFMP, BCHN, LDN - Professor and Director of Academic Development, Nutrition programs in Clinical Nutrition at Maryland University of Integrative Health.,
Dr. Loren Fishman
MD, B.Phil.,(oxon.) - Medical Director of Manhattan Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Founder of the Yoga Injury Prevention Website.,
Prof. Didier Hans
PHD, MBA - Head of Research & Development Center of Bone Diseases, Lausanne University Hospital CHUV, Switzerland,