If you’re not an early riser, this isn’t going to be good news. New research indicates that those who wake early and exercise before eating breakfast can burn up to 20 percent more body fat. So, before you unwrap that PopTart, lace up your sneakers and hit the pavement.
Researchers at the University of Northumbrian wanted to find out if it was better to work out in the morning on an empty stomach or whether that hunger would get back at your throughout the day, causing you to consume more calories overall.
The research team asked twelve active men to workout on the treadmill at 10 am, either after they had eaten breakfast or not. 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 eat enough of to feel “comfortable full.”
The research leaders, Dr. Emma Stevenson and PhD student Javier Gonzalez, discovered that those who had exercised in the morning did not consume any additional calories through the day, nor did they report having an increased appetite.
They also found that those who had worked out after a night of fasting burned almost 20 percent more fat compared to those who hopped on the treadmill after eating breakfast.
“In order to lose body fat we need to use more fat than we consume,” Gonzalez explains. “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 appetite, hunger or food consumption later in the day and to get the most out of your session it may be optimal to perform this after an overnight fast.”
While noting that the short-term, small-group nature of the study leaves room for speculation, Dr. Stevenson added, “This research is very important in helping to provide practical guidelines relating to food intake to individuals who are exercising to maximize fat mass loss.”
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