Lose fat faster before breakfast

Javier Gonzalez with Dr Emma Stevenson in the Sport Nutrition Lab.

People can burn up to 20% more body fat by exercising in the morning on an empty stomach, according to new research from Northumbria University.

In a study published online in the British Journal of Nutrition today (24 January), academics sought to find out whether the known benefits of exercising after an overnight fast were undermined by an increased appetite and eating more food later in the day.

Researchers, led by Dr Emma Stevenson and PhD student Javier Gonzalez, asked twelve physically active male participants to perform a bout of at 10am, either after they had eaten breakfast or in a fasted state having not eaten since the evening before.

Following the exercise all participants were given a chocolate milkshake recovery drink. Later in the day, participants were provided with a pasta lunch which they were asked to consume until they felt 'comfortably full'. Their lunchtime consumption of energy and fat was assessed and calculated, taking into account the amount of energy and fat burned during the morning period.

Dr Emma Stevenson with Javier Gonzalez and volunteer Ben Green.

The researchers discovered that those who had exercised in the morning did not consume additional or experience increased appetite during the day to compensate for their earlier activity.

They also found that those who had exercised in a fasted state burned almost 20% more fat compared to those who had consumed breakfast before their . This means that performing exercise on an empty stomach provides the most desirable outcome for fat loss.

Javier Gonzalez, who is currently undertaking a PhD in Exercise and Metabolism, said: "In order to lose body fat we need to use more fat than we consume. Exercise increases the total amount of energy we expend and a greater proportion of this energy comes from existing fat if the exercise is performed after an overnight fast.

"Our results show that exercise does not increase your , or later in the day and to get the most out of your session it may be optimal to perform this after an overnight fast."

Dr Emma Stevenson, Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Nutrition and Associate Director of Northumbria University's Brain, Performance and Nutrition Research Centre, added: "This research is very important in helping to provide practical guidelines relating to food intake to individuals who are exercising to maximise fat mass loss. It must be highlighted that this is a short-term study and we can only speculate on the longer term outcomes of such nutritional practices."

The research, titled 'Breakfast and exercise contingently affect postprandial and energy balance in physically active males', is published online today in the .

More information: British Journal of Nutrition: Breakfast and exercise contingently affect postprandial metabolism and energy balance in physically active males, doi:10.1017/S0007114512005582

Related Stories

Low glycemic breakfast may increase benefits of working out

date Apr 14, 2009

The benefits of physical activity and a balanced diet are well documented and form the basis of many public health recommendations. This is because each of these factors can independently influence risks for many chronic ...

Recommended for you

New measures identified for newborn care in Uganda

date 16 minutes ago

In Uganda, child mortality rates are improving, but progress is slower for deaths occurring in the first four weeks of life, or the newborn period, and for stillbirths. But recent evidence from local researchers ...

Should men cut back on their soy intake?

date 2 hours ago

Recently, a friend called my husband to inquire about the risks for men in consuming too much soy milk. He had read an article that described how one individual's plight led him down the path of breast enlargement, and was ...

Probing Question: What is umami?

date 3 hours ago

The next time you're at a dinner party and want to spice up the conversation, you might compliment the hosts on their umami-rich appetizers. Then wait a moment until someone invariably asks, "What's umami?"

Will the Affordable Care Act eliminate health disparities?

date 5 hours ago

Massachusetts' health reform may be a crystal ball for researchers and policymakers in forecasting the potential impact of the Affordable Care Act. Many see the ACA as the backbone of efforts toward closing the nation's health ...

Experts question election pledges on GP access

date 16 hours ago

As the general election in the UK approaches, experts writing in The BMJ this week question whether the party promises on access to general practice are likely to be achievable.

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

kevinrtrs
Jan 24, 2013
So what else is new?

Cyclists have been doing this for years already - cycling at 70% max heartrate for 1 hour and then eating breakfast/meal immediately afterwards - or doing as they do here - drink the chocolate milk. This is known as training the body to burn the intramuscular fat or Intramuscular triglycerides.

So what's the beef here?
aroc91
Jan 24, 2013
This has been the idea behind intermittent fasting for quite some time. Definitely not anything new. The body is forced to use fat when there's no intake of simple carbs and glycogen stores get depleted.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.