Working out before breakfast may increase health benefits of your exercise

In a new study, researchers found that by changing the timing of when you eat and exercise, people can better control their blood sugar levels.

The research was conducted by a team at the Universities of Bath and Birmingham.

Building on emerging evidence that the timing of meals in relation to exercise can shift how effective exercise is, the team behind wanted to focus on the impact on the fat stores in muscles for individuals who either worked out before or after eating and the effect this had on insulin response to feeding.

The six-week study involved thirty obese or overweight men and compared results from two intervention groups (who ate breakfast before/after exercise) and a control group (who made no lifestyle changes).

The team found that people who performed an exercise before breakfast burned double the amount of fat than the group who exercised after breakfast.

They found that increased fat use is mainly due to lower insulin levels during exercise when people have fasted overnight.

This means that they can use more of the fat from their fat tissue and the fat within their muscles as fuel. Whilst this didn’t have any effect on weight loss, it did dramatically improve their overall health.

To test proof-of-principle, the initial study involved only men, but future studies will look to translate these findings for different groups including women.

Whilst this did not lead to any differences for weight loss over six weeks, it did have ‘profound and positive’ effects on their health because their bodies were better able to respond to insulin, keeping blood sugar levels under control and potentially lowering the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

The lead author of the study is Dr. Javier Gonzalez of the Department for Health at the University of Bath.

The study is published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

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