SPORTS BEFORE OR AFTER BREAKFAST?

doris hofer

There is this myth that you will burn way more fat if you go and run on an empty stomach rather than after your breakfast. The argumentation goes that after an overnight fast your blood sugar is low which forces your body to use stored fat for energy.

This discussion will probably never find an end because depending on what you are trying to prove you can find data that running before breakfast helps you burn up to 20 percent more fat or that you should definitely eat in order to maximise your calorie burn.

Personally I would never go out without eating and drinking anything. I have a cup of coffee and a banana before I exercise and the reason is quite simple: I need energy to boost my performance. Coffee helps me to wake up and focus and the banana gives me energy. That said, it is actually true that you burn a higher percentage of calories from fat if you train at a low intensity level. But my point is that in the end it is not important where from your fuel is coming, glucose (carbs) or fatty acids (fat). The more calories you burn, the more pounds you will shed and that is what matters in the end, no?

Let me share some research to prove my theory. The University of Wisconsin had subjects perform two 30-minute bouts of exercise: a low-intensity and a high-intensity training. The results showed that for the low intensity training the subjects burned a total of 240 calories with 96 of those calories (41%) coming from fat. During the high-intensity period they burned a total of 450 calories, with 108 of those calories (24%) coming from fat. This shows that indeed a higher percentage of the calories came from fat, but the total number of fat calories was less than during the high-intensity trial. And as I said, it is important to remember that after all it is the total number of calories burned which determines weight loss, regardless of the source of those calories.

There is an other fact we shouldn’t ignore in this debate: We continue to burn calories after exercising. This is called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). The more calories we burn exercising, the more oxygen our body consumes afterwards. So that is an other reason to eat this banana before working out.

After your training, have a proper breakfast to replenish your depleted muscle cells. Good carbs (chia, oatmeal, vegetables) combined with protein (eggs, soy, lean meat) makes up an ideal meal after exercising.


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1 Comment

  • Dan Clay

    Nice article! I get people ask me this question all the time.
    I think it depends on the type of exercise you do and your body.
    For high intensity training you’ll need some sugars in your blood system to boost your blood sugar levels from fasting all night. For low intensity exercise you can get away with not eating if you feel you don’t need to.

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