To eat or not to eat before exercising in the morning? This question has been circulating for years and years. One group says yes, eat before you exercise because it is needed to fuel the body. The other group says no, you will have more health gains if you exercise in the morning in a fasting state. One group of researchers declares they have the answer. Are you doing it right? Let’s dig in to find out.
A recently released study out of the UK claims that exercising before eating in the morning prompted twice the amount of fat-blasting power as eating before working out. Researchers say that exercising without fuel pushes the body to use stored carbs as fuel first, and when these are used, it moves to fat cells.
Muscles become more responsive to insulin with fasting
In the study, which included 30 overweight or obese men, the eat-after group did not drop any more weight than the eat-before group; however, there were highly positive effects on health in the group that fasted before exercise.
Dr. Javier Gonzalez of the University of Bath was the study leader and found that those who engaged in physical activity before eating their first meal of the day “burned double the amount of fat” when compared to the group who exercised after breakfast
One of the most profound impacts was the fact that skipping breakfast before working out made muscles more responsive to insulin, which controls blood sugar. This reduces the risk of both diabetes and heart disease.
According to Gonzalez,
“The group who exercised before breakfast increased their ability to respond to insulin, which is all the more remarkable given that both exercise groups lost a similar amount of weight, and both gained a similar amount of fitness.”
What other studies have found
Other studies have found similar results. A study conducted in 2017 from the University of Bath found that lower blood sugar levels after fasting caused participants to burn more fat. However, the men who ate breakfast first burned more calories than those who ate after exercising.
A study conducted in 2010 included a group of 28, healthy, and physically active men. The men were divided into three groups. The first group did not exercise. The other two groups participated in heavy morning exercise, including running and cycling four times a week. Participants in one group ate before exercise, while participants in the other group ate after exercise.
The group who did not exercise gained weight. No surprise here. However, in contradiction to the 2017 study, the group who ate breakfast before exercise also gained weight. The group who exercised on water and no food maintained their weight, lost fat, and kept blood sugars level.
What these studies show
First off, there is a need for more and larger studies to really hammer home the eat or not-to-eat before exercising dilemma. It does seem clear, based on evidence, that exercising before eating is good for your overall health regardless of whether or not you drop pounds.
How to work out best on an empty stomach
If you choose to work out in a fasting state, be sure to keep the following tips in mind to keep your muscle tissue from breaking down.
- Honor the four R’s for recovery – rehydrate, replenish, repair and reinforce
- Do this by drinking plenty of water
- Eat a small meal within 15 to 30 minutes after exercising. This meal should have a 4:1 carb to high-quality protein ratio. Good choices include fruit and Greek yogurt, trail mix, and a banana with peanut butter.
Tips for eating before a workout
If eating something in the morning before your workout is best for you here are some things to keep in mind.
- The best foods to eat before exercising depend on the type of workout you are engaging in and your own personal fitness goals. For instance, foods rich in protein can help build muscle along with resistance training.
- Pre-workout meals should include a balance of the macronutrients fat, carbohydrate,s and protein. These are the dietary compounds that the body needs in ample quantity to function properly.
- Excellent protein sources include lentils, eggs and nuts.
- Excellent carbohydrate sources include broccoli, sweet potatoes, and other vegetables, brown rice, oats, and beans.
- Excellent fat choices include avocados, nuts and coconut oi.
Above all things, listen to your body. If you respond better to exercise after eating, then eat. If you do well exercising in a fasting state, fast!
-The Alternative Daily