Exercising before breakfast benefits your health

Exercise has always been a measure to maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight and obese has been tied to a multitude of health complications, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Engaging in physical activities has many health benefits and may help with weight loss.

Image Credit: Brocreative / Shutterstock
Image Credit: Brocreative / Shutterstock

Now, a new study shows that exercising before breakfast has many health benefits, including increased insulin sensitivity and losing weight effectively. A team of researchers at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom has studies if changing the timing of exercise and eating can help control blood sugar levels.

They found that people who exercise or workout before breakfast burned double the amount of fat than those who worked out after eating breakfast. The study, which was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, involved 30 men who were overweight or obese.

The team compared the results from two experimental groups, and the first one included those who exercised before eating breakfast and those who exercised after their breakfast. Throughout the study period of six weeks, the researchers wanted to focus on the effect of scheduling an exercise regimen before eating in the morning on fat stores in muscles.

Better blood sugar control

They discovered that lower insulin levels during exercise after overnight fasting could lead to increased fat use. This way, they use up more fat from their muscles and fat tissue as an energy source. However, throughout the six-weeks long study period, there are no differences in the weight of the participants; it had positive impacts on their health. The participants who exercised before breakfast had better health since their bodies were able to respond to insulin more effectively. They had normal blood sugar levels, which can prevent the development of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

"Our results suggest that changing the timing of when you eat in relation to when you exercise can bring about profound and positive changes to your overall health. We found that the men in the study who exercised before breakfast burned double the amount of fat than the group who exercised after. Importantly, whilst this didn't have any effect on weight loss, it did dramatically improve their overall health,” Dr Javier Gonzalez of the Department for Health at the University of Bath, explained.

"The group who exercised before breakfast increased their ability to respond to insulin, which is more remarkable, given that both exercise groups lost a similar amount of weight and both gained a similar amount of fitness. The only difference was the timing of the food intake,” he added.

Muscles more responsive to insulin

Aside from better blood glucose control, the researchers also found that the muscles of those who worked out before breakfast were more responsive to insulin than the other group. The two groups had the same training sessions and an exercise program. It’s just that the timing of eating breakfast was changed.

Furthermore, the group who exercised before breakfast had a better increase in key proteins, particularly those involved in the transport of glucose from the blood to the muscles of the body. The study sheds light on the importance of performing an exercise in the overnight-fasted state since it has many health benefits, regardless of the intensity of exercise and the duration of their effort to work out.

The researchers now want to determine if the effects of exercising in an overnight-fasted state are the same in women, too. Future studies will be geared toward testing the theory across various members of the population.

Physical activity helps improve the overall health

Physical activity and exercise can help ward off many health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that people should get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, or at least 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity.

It also recommends spending less time sitting, and engage in physical activities, no matter how light or small. Even light-intensity activity can offset many risks of having a sedentary lifestyle.

Angela Betsaida B. Laguipo

Written by

Angela Betsaida B. Laguipo

Angela is a nurse by profession and a writer by heart. She graduated with honors (Cum Laude) for her Bachelor of Nursing degree at the University of Baguio, Philippines. She is currently completing her Master's Degree where she specialized in Maternal and Child Nursing and worked as a clinical instructor and educator in the School of Nursing at the University of Baguio.


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