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Study: Physical Activity Before Brekky Burns Added Fat

Exercise first, or eat breakfast before exercise? The age-old debate continues after results were published from a recent study.

Those who are “Team Eat-First” have stated that food prior to physical activity helps to boost blood sugar and give you the fuel you need for a good workout; it can also help an individual from feeling dizzy and fatigued while working out.

Meanwhile “Team Eat-After” states that individuals can burn added fat if they eat after exercising.

So … who’s right … who’s wrong? Below is an overview from some recent research.

CNN reported that a small study stemming from the United Kingdom is now supporting the eat-after theorists, gathering 30 overweight and obese males, who exercised before brekky, with results showing they burned twice as much fat versus those who ate breakfast and then worked out. The study period lasted six weeks.

While the “eat-after” group of men didn’t lose as much weight as their “eat-before” participants (although both groups did lose similar amounts of pounds), they did experience some positive impacts around health. In fact, skipping breakfast before exercising made their muscles more responsive to insulin, which decreased their risk for heart disease and diabetes as this controls high blood sugars. The group of males that exercised prior to having breakfast also enhanced their ability around insulin response.

A University of Bath study conducted in 2017 gathered about ten males and came up with the same results. Thanks to the decreased levels of blood sugar, the “eat-after” group burned more fat. With that said, this time around, the male group that ate before physical activity burned added calories, as they did eat breakfast before exercising.

Interestingly enough, research conducted in 2010 came up with similar findings, where 28 physically active and healthy males were reviewed. One group did not partake in any fitness, while two other groups underwent extensive morning fitness routines that included cycling and running, for about four times weekly. There was one group that ate after they exercised, and one that ate before.

The group with no activity gained weight (no surprise there); however, those males that ate brekky before fitness also gained weight, while the group who exercised and then ate after maintained their weight, kept blood sugar levels in good shape, and lost fat.

So, could it be “Team Eat-After” for the win? While all the studies reviewed above did analyze smaller groups, perhaps more research is needed with a larger participant pool.

With that said, should you decide to go full throttle with an exercise routine, ensure you are drinking water while exercising and staying hydrated. It’s also important to ensure you eat a meal (breakfast) within 15 to 30 minutes, post-workout, and you may want to organize something with a 4:1 carb-to-high-protein ratio. Some good examples of this are: trail mix, a banana with peanut butter, or perhaps some low-fat Greek yogurt and fruit.

Regardless, exercise is an important factor to incorporate to ensure a healthy lifestyle; therefore, whether you choose to eat a meal before you work out, or exercise as soon as you wake up and eat breakfast after, the key to all this is getting some physical activity into your day.