If you’re the kind of person that loves to start your day with a workout, then you may have found yourself in a bit of a conundrum. Should you eat breakfast before your morning exercise? Of course, common sense would agree with both sides of the fence. On the one hand, eating before exercising seems a little counter-intuitive – especially if you want to lose weight. On the other hand, you need as much energy as you can to perform at your best. So, what’s the real answer? Should you eat breakfast or skip it before a morning workout?
To eat or not to eat
We’ve all heard the notion that “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” but is it really important when you’re working out in the morning? Well, new research suggests that the best way to start your day is to exercise on an empty stomach. The study, undertaken by experts at Bath University in the UK, wanted to test whether skipping breakfast would cause people to eat more or less during the day – therefore affecting whether they put on weight, stay the same, or lose weight. For this, they enlisted the help of 12 young men who were all incredibly fit and healthy, and who loved to start their day with a workout. Over the course of one week, the men were subjected to three different tests.
The big test
On the first day of the study, the participants were tasked with eating a bowl of porridge (430kcal) and did not exercise. On the second day of the study, they ate the same meal and then rode on an exercise bicycle for an hour. On the third day, the men didn’t eat any food at all, rode an exercise bicycle for an hour, and then didn’t eat until lunchtime. While undertaking this study, the 12 participants were also offered the chance to eat as much or as little food at lunchtime as they wanted. Interestingly, the participants ate more than their recommended calorie intake on their rest day, and they burned around the same calories as their breakfast on the second day. However, on the third day – when they didn’t eat breakfast at all – the men chose to eat a large lunch to fill them up and then ate smaller portions for the rest of the day. In the end, they were around 400 calories under their recommended daily intake.
Going on these results, it would suggest that those who skip breakfast and workout in the morning then eat less as the day goes on – resulting in a calorie deficit. Of course, one of the most effective ways to lose weight is to put your body in the midst of a calorie deficit. Because of this, the study seems to show that the best ways to get the most out of your morning workout is to do so on an empty stomach.
While this study seems to point in the right direction, it’s important to remember that this is only one study.