Table of contents:
Pre-workout breakfast energizes the body to burn calories
If you eat before your morning workout, carbohydrates are digested more quickly during exercise and food is better utilized by the body during the day.
Photo: Google Images /
A pre-workout breakfast energizes the body to burn carbohydrates during exercise and also promotes faster digestion of food afterwards, according to a study published in the American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Scientists from the University of Bath's Department of Public Health, working with colleagues from the universities of Birmingham, Newcastle and Stirling, have studied when to exercise - after breakfast or on an empty stomach.
The experiment involved 12 healthy male volunteers who were randomly assigned to the following trials:
The breakfast, which consisted of porridge and milk, was followed by a three-hour rest;
- An hour's workout two hours after a similar breakfast;
- Workout on an empty stomach.
After exercise or rest, the researchers checked blood glucose levels and muscle glycogen levels. They found that eating breakfast increases the rate at which the body burns carbohydrates during exercise, as well as increases the rate of food digestion and the metabolism of post-workout foods.
Dr. Javier Gonzalez, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Public Health and co-director of the study, said: “This is the first study to examine the ways in which breakfast pre-workout influences our post-workout nutritional responses. We found that, compared to skipping breakfast, eating breakfast before exercise increases the rate at which we digest, absorb and absorb the carbs that we can eat after exercise."
Rob Edinburgh, PhD student in the Department of Public Health, second co-director, continued: “We also found that breakfast before exercise increased the burning of carbohydrates during exercise, and these carbohydrates came not only from the breakfast that was just eaten, but also from carbohydrates stored in our muscles as glycogen. This increase in muscle glycogen utilization may explain why there was a faster clearance of sugar from the blood after lunch when breakfast was consumed before exercise."
An interesting aspect of this study is the demonstration that extrapolating from other fasting experiments (which is usually how basal metabolism is measured) can be unreliable because food alters metabolism.
“While fasting prior to laboratory testing is common to control baseline metabolic status, these conditions can prevent the results from being applied to situations most common in daily life because most people do not fast during the day,” Gonzalez added.
"Since this study only assessed short-term responses to breakfast and exercise, the longer-term effects of this work are unclear, and we are conducting ongoing research on whether eating breakfast before or after exercise has regular health effects," Edinburgh concluded.
Scientists have noted a clear need for more research on the health effects of our diet before exercise, with people who are overweight who are at increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.