Anyone remember being told to eat a banana before exercising? Or only to exercise after consuming… protein … carbs … a handful of almonds … whatever…?
Well, it turns out that the best time to exercise is on an empty stomach. A very empty stomach. According to research published last week, the perfect time to exercise is before breakfast, while our bodies are in a fasted state.
Before you start an intensive programme of pre-breakfast jogs, bear in mind that this small study only involved overweight men. Needless to say, the results appear dramatic. Overweight men who exercised – moderately intense cycling – before breakfast burnt double the amount of fat than those exercising after breakfast.
The significant finding is this: while exercising before breakfast led to no difference in weight loss, it had ‘dramatic’, ‘profound and positive’ effects on the men’s overall health (the researcher’s words, not mine, but not the sort of cautionary words researchers normally use). The mens’ bodies became much better at managing insulin levels and keeping blood sugar under control, potentially reducing their risk of diabetes and heart disease. For some reason, the bodies of the exercise-before-breakfast cohort were better able to transport glucose from the bloodstream to the muscles, making the muscles more responsive to insulin.
“Changing the timing of when you eat in relation to when you exercise can bring about profound and positive changes to overall health,” said Dr Gonzalez of the University of Bath.
Co-author, Dr Wallis from Birmingham University, added that exercising in “an overnight fasted state can increase health benefits … without changing the intensity or duration of effort.” Read more here.
We’re always looking for short-cuts to better health so we’re awaiting the results of their next trial involving women with interest. We’ll keep you posted. But what’s so interesting about this study is the way it highlights the crucial role of timing, reflecting a very recent study on blood pressure medication which found that taking it before bed was far more effective than taking it in the morning, halving the risk of heart attacks and stroke. The body’s internal clock is infinitely more complicated than was ever imagined and, fortunately, researchers are becoming more aware of this. If you missed the blood pressure study, catch up here.
While we’re on the subject of muscles a new study, involving over 4000 participants, suggests that Vitamin D deficiency could also lead to poor muscle function in the over 60s. It’s not only resistance exercise that our muscles need but sufficient levels of vitamin D, which scientists now think may be muscle-protective as well as bone-protective. Read more here.
Vitamin D is just about the only vitamin we recommended in our book and we both take supplements during the winter months when British sunlight is low, spare and often absent altogether. You can read our earlier posts on Vitamin D here and here.
Lastly, Susan is hosting a workshop in Gloucestershire on 19th November. This morning workshop (to include a lunch cooked with the perfect age-well ingredients) will help you think about your health and longevity and you’ll leave with your own, unique Age-Well Plan.
Tuesday November 19th at Water Lane Workshops, near Stroud, Gloucestershire. For more details contact:
Any experience of exercising before breakfast? Did you feel better? Worse? Please do share any comments in the comment box…