The Benefits of Exercising Before Breakfast

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The Benefits of Exercising Before Breakfast

Postby Hikin_Jim » Thu Dec 16, 2010 11:47 am

I saw this article, The Benefits of Exercising Before Breakfast, in the NY Times. I think it's pretty important actually. It's at least worth a read this holiday season.

HJ

December 15, 2010, 12:01 am
Phys Ed: The Benefits of Exercising Before Breakfast
By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS

The holiday season brings many joys and, unfortunately, many countervailing dietary pitfalls. Even the fittest and most disciplined of us can succumb, indulging in more fat and calories than at any other time of the year. The health consequences, if the behavior is unchecked, can be swift and worrying. A recent study by scientists in Australia found that after only three days, an extremely high-fat, high-calorie diet can lead to increased blood sugar and insulin resistance, potentially increasing the risk for Type 2 diabetes. Waistlines also can expand at this time of year, prompting self-recrimination and unrealistic New Year’s resolutions.

But a new study published in The Journal of Physiology suggests a more reliable and far simpler response. Run or bicycle before breakfast. Exercising in the morning, before eating, the study results show, seems to significantly lessen the ill effects of holiday Bacchanalias.

For the study, researchers in Belgium recruited 28 healthy, active young men and began stuffing them with a truly lousy diet, composed of 50 percent fat and 30 percent more calories, overall, than the men had been consuming. Some of the men agreed not to exercise during the experiment. The rest were assigned to one of two exercise groups. The groups’ regimens were identical and exhausting. The men worked out four times a week in the mornings, running and cycling at a strenuous intensity. Two of the sessions lasted 90 minutes, the others, an hour. All of the workouts were supervised, so the energy expenditure of the two groups was identical.

Their early-morning routines, however, were not. One of the groups ate a hefty, carbohydrate-rich breakfast before exercising and continued to ingest carbohydrates, in the form of something like a sports drink, throughout their workouts. The second group worked out without eating first and drank only water during the training. They made up for their abstinence with breakfast later that morning, comparable in calories to the other group’s trencherman portions.

The experiment lasted for six weeks. At the end, the nonexercising group was, to no one’s surprise, super-sized, having packed on an average of more than six pounds. They had also developed insulin resistance — their muscles were no longer responding well to insulin and weren’t pulling sugar (or, more technically, glucose) out of the bloodstream efficiently — and they had begun storing extra fat within and between their muscle cells. Both insulin resistance and fat-marbled muscles are metabolically unhealthy conditions that can be precursors of diabetes.

The men who ate breakfast before exercising gained weight, too, although only about half as much as the control group. Like those sedentary big eaters, however, they had become more insulin-resistant and were storing a greater amount of fat in their muscles.

Only the group that exercised before breakfast gained almost no weight and showed no signs of insulin resistance. They also burned the fat they were taking in more efficiently. “Our current data,” the study’s authors wrote, “indicate that exercise training in the fasted state is more effective than exercise in the carbohydrate-fed state to stimulate glucose tolerance despite a hypercaloric high-fat diet.”

Just how exercising before breakfast blunts the deleterious effects of overindulging is not completely understood, although this study points toward several intriguing explanations. For one, as has been known for some time, exercising in a fasted state (usually possible only before breakfast), coaxes the body to burn a greater percentage of fat for fuel during vigorous exercise, instead of relying primarily on carbohydrates. When you burn fat, you obviously don’t store it in your muscles. In “our study, only the fasted group demonstrated beneficial metabolic adaptations, which eventually may enhance oxidative fatty acid turnover,” said Peter Hespel, Ph.D., a professor in the Research Center for Exercise and Health at Catholic University Leuven in Belgium and senior author of the study.

At the same time, the fasting group showed increased levels of a muscle protein that “is responsible for insulin-stimulated glucose transport in muscle and thus plays a pivotal role in regulation of insulin sensitivity,” Dr Hespel said.

In other words, working out before breakfast directly combated the two most detrimental effects of eating a high-fat, high-calorie diet. It also helped the men avoid gaining weight.

There are caveats, of course. Exercising on an empty stomach is unlikely to improve your performance during that workout. Carbohydrates are easier for working muscles to access and burn for energy than fat, which is why athletes typically eat a high-carbohydrate diet. The researchers also don’t know whether the same benefits will accrue if you exercise at a more leisurely pace and for less time than in this study, although, according to Leonie Heilbronn, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Adelaide in Australia, who has extensively studied the effects of high-fat diets and wrote a commentary about the Belgian study, “I would predict low intensity is better than nothing.”

So, unpleasant as the prospect may be, set your alarm after the next Christmas party to wake you early enough that you can run before sitting down to breakfast. “I would recommend this,” Dr. Heilbronn concluded, “as a way of combating Christmas” and those insidiously delectable cookies.
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Postby phydeux » Thu Dec 16, 2010 7:00 pm

Wow, I'd definately loose more weight as part of the 'exercise after eating' group. If I ate a "hefty, carbohydrate-rich breakfast before exercising and continued to ingest carbohydrates . . throughout (the) workouts", I'd barf it all out. Yuk! :oops: :(
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Postby zippetydude » Fri Dec 17, 2010 5:59 pm

phydeux wrote: If I ate a "hefty, carbohydrate-rich breakfast before exercising and continued to ingest carbohydrates . . throughout (the) workouts" :(


... I'd weigh 500 lbs.! I wish I could eat like that, but diabetes, heart disease and obesity all run in my family. I'd be one sweet, fat, dead dude.

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Postby honey123 » Sun Jan 23, 2011 11:50 pm

I am a diabetic and am in the habit of walking before breakfast and I can proudly say that it has kept my medication at what it was over three years ago when I was found to be a diabetic!! Walking first thing in the morning on an empty stomach is the best “treatment” you can have to keep fit!!
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Postby honey123 » Sun Jan 23, 2011 11:51 pm

I am a diabetic and am in the habit of walking before breakfast and I can proudly say that it has kept my medication at what it was over three years ago when I was found to be a diabetic!! Walking first thing in the morning on an empty stomach is the best “treatment” you can have to keep fit!!
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Postby Hikin_Jim » Mon Jan 24, 2011 8:11 am

Good to know.

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Postby 93ludegirl » Sat Jan 29, 2011 6:34 am

Dang, im heading out to Art Smith this morning to hike and run and going 17miles.....I cant eat til after my exercise? that'll be 2pm, Ima pass-out after 10mi without some food, sorry, but im eating my apple and cookie at halfway, not after! lol And im eatin a banana BEFORE I go out! HA!
.....I always eat fruit or 1/2 cup oatmeal befor anything over 15 miles, and im still losing weight, lost 30 lbs in the last 7 months. How much were they forcefeeding those guys? did it give a calorie/carb count?? It musta been a lot!
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Postby Hikin_Jim » Sat Jan 29, 2011 5:56 pm

93ludegirl wrote:Dang, im heading out to Art Smith this morning to hike and run and going 17miles.....I cant eat til after my exercise? that'll be 2pm, Ima pass-out after 10mi without some food, sorry, but im eating my apple and cookie at halfway, not after! lol And im eatin a banana BEFORE I go out! HA!
.....I always eat fruit or 1/2 cup oatmeal befor anything over 15 miles, and im still losing weight, lost 30 lbs in the last 7 months. How much were they forcefeeding those guys? did it give a calorie/carb count?? It musta been a lot!
Yeah, I went hiking this AM without breakfast. I about fell over. Guess you gotta do what you gotta do.

Still, I think the study has a point: That it's better to exercise early in the day before breakfast. Eating a banana hardly counts as a big breakfast. :)

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Postby 93ludegirl » Sat Jan 29, 2011 7:03 pm

Bet it depends on how MUCH you exercise in the AM too, like not eatin' b4 a 1 hour walk or 4 mile run is cool.....but if your hittin' it for 5hrs then ya better eat, or risk passing out, lol
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Postby mountainbiker » Sat Feb 05, 2011 12:38 pm

Early morning exercise is an interesting conundrum. It is so beneficial yet so difficult to do haha. I have found though that when I am able to get in a morning routine I at least feel better physically. I haven't noticed much physical chance, but then again I usually only make it three or four weeks on the morning stretch.
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