When to have breakfast – before exercise or after exercise? The answer to the question depends on the purpose of the exercise. Are you trying to lose weight? Assuming that the question refers to early morning exercise and that you are trying to lose weight, then the answer is definitely EXERCISE BEFORE BREAKFAST! On the other hand, if you are preparing for a competitive sporting event, then definitely have a high Glycemic index (GI), high-carb breakfast a couple of hours before exercise.
Old verses New Science on the breakfast before or after exercise
Earlier thinking (based on old science), promoted the concept of breakfast as soon as a person woke up in the morning i.e. breakfast before exercise. This is still being followed world over. However, new thinking based on modern science and research (conducted in Belgium in 2011), indicates that exercise after a 10 to 12 hour overnight fast resulted in better fat oxidation. Also, research indicates that those who did their exercise before breakfast gained almost no weight and showed no signs of insulin resistance whereas, those who ate breakfast before exercise become more insulin-resistant and were storing a greater amount of fat in their muscles.
Therefore, exercise before breakfast is more effective than exercise after breakfast because exercising in a fasted state coaxes the body to burn a greater percentage of fat for fuel during exercise instead of relying primarily on blood sugar. The research conducted inBelgiumalso seems to indicate that people who ate breakfast before exercise gained marginal amounts of weight – this despite a rigorous workout. Why? When you exercise, you release adrenaline, a hormone that helps turn fat into energy. However, eating breakfast before exercise also releases insulin which unfortunately counteracts the effects of adrenaline. The body therefore relies more on your blood sugar reserves rather than breaking down fat.
So if the intention of your exercise is to lose weight then exercise before breakfast is ideal.
Doctors who conducted the research also said exercise before breakfast directly combated the two most detrimental effects of eating a high-fat, high-calorie diet and therefore helped people avoid gaining weight.
Of course, those who have exercised before breakfast will quickly point out that the going can be pretty tough. Your stomach is empty and given that 8 to 12 hours might have passed since the last meal, you are probably quite hungry. Intensity definitely suffers. Exercising on an empty stomach is unlikely to improve your performance during that workout. Carbohydrates are easier for working muscles to access and burn energy than fat, which is why athletes typically eat a high-carbohydrate breakfast a few hours before a workout or a sporting event.
If on the other hand, your target is to prepare yourself for some sports competition, then a high GI carb breakfast before exercise would be beneficial.
High Glycemic index (GI) carbohydrate will quickly release sugar and add to your blood glucose levels. You will have enormous amount of ‘on-call’ energy for that high-performance sporting event.