Although fasting before exercise may be a mantra for some celebrities and personal trainers, recent research shows eating breakfast before you work out could help “prime” your body to burn more carbs.
The UK research involved 12 healthy men and examined the impact of breakfast on their body’s response to food immediately after exercise and for the rest of the day.
Researchers from the Universities of Bath, Birmingham, Newcastle and Stirling compared eating a breakfast of wholegrain porridge made with milk before cycling for an hour, versus working out after fasting overnight.
After exercise, the men had their blood glucose and muscle glycogen levels (the glucose our body stores in our muscles) tested.
The researchers discovered that eating breakfast before exercising not only increased the rate at which the body burned carbohydrates during exercise, but also increased the body’s ability to digest and metabolise carbohydrates eaten throughout the day.
The study also showed the carbs burnt were not only coming from breakfast but from the glycogen stored in their muscles.
The study suggests that breakfast followed by exercise may kick-start the body’s carbohydrate processing and “prime” the body for rapid storage of nutrients from the meals that follow.
The research team is continuing to study the impact of eating before exercise, but for now it’s interesting to know that eating a bowl of cereal before you work out may be a great way to kick-start your metabolism for the day.
Three pre-workout brekkie ideas
Oats and milk. Just like the study, fuel up on porridge made with dairy or plant-based milk. This combination is a great source of wholegrains and is low GI for slow-release energy. Overnight oats topped with fruit and a splash of milk is a tasty option too.
Wholegrain toast with nut butter. A high-fibre start to the day, nut butters are a good source of protein and healthy fats, which can lower the overall GI of a meal to keep you feeling full for longer. Look for a nut butter with no added sugar or salt.
Fruit smoothie. Blend up your favourite whole fruits, along with dairy or plant milk. If you’re not a morning person, you can prep the night before so your brekkie drink is ready to blend, grab and go.