Saturday, November 17, 2012

Exercise more beneficial on an empty stomach, research shows

For many people, exercising first thing in the morning isn’t something that is particularly appealing.

However, scientists at the University of Glasgow has found that exercising before breakfast burns more fat than exercising afterwards.

Dr Jason Gill and Nor Farah of the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences compared the effects of exercise performed before and after breakfast on fat loss and metabolic health.

Ten overweight men who were not regular exercisers took part in their study.

Each man underwent three trials, 1-2 weeks apart:

  1. A set breakfast with no exercise
  2. A set breakfast followed by 60 minutes of exercise at 50 per cent maximal intensity
  3. A set breakfast following 60 minutes of exercise at 50 per cent maximal intensity

3.5 hours later the participant were given lunch which they could eat in unlimited quantity. Intakes at this lunch were essentially the same on all three occasions.

The levels of fat, sugars and insulin in the blood of the study subjects were measured over an 8.5 hour period on each occasion.

Exercise Before Breakfast - Greater Fat Loss

Over the course of the day with no exercise the men were left with an average of 49kcal unburnt fat while exercising after breakfast burned 216kcal more of fat on average than the control trial and 298kcal more than the control group when exercising before breakfast.

The results indicated that both timings of exercise increased fat burning over the day and improved the metabolic profile in the blood. But, exercise before breakfast resulted in greater fat loss and larger reductions in the level of fat in the blood.

Dr Gill said “Any exercise you do is beneficial, but the indications are that there might be an extra benefit associated with exercising before eating, compared to after. However, further study is needed to determine whether the present findings extend over the long term.

“In the end, we would like to encourage everyone to do some form of exercise everyday – the difference between exercising before compared to after breakfast was much smaller than the difference between exercising at either time compared to not exercising at all.”


The above story is based on the October 29, 2012 news release by the University of Glasgow.

The research paper is published in the latest edition of the British Journal of Nutrition:
Farah NMF, et al. Effects of exercise before or after meal ingestion on fat balance and postprandial metabolism in overweight men. Br  J Nutr. Published online: 26 October 2012

* Given our current security situation, it is better you exercise on a cross-trainer in the security of your home.

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