October 21, 2012

Should You Work Out Before Breakfast?

My friend’s daughter overheard a fitness instructor tell his students to “skip breakfast so they can burn more fat”.  I am happy to say that her daughter was horrified by this, and she is right: For years some exercise professionals have been telling their clients to work out before breakfast to burn more fat.

The reverse is true.  Recent research shows that you burn more calories and fat when you eat a light breakfast before exercise.  Metabolism increases during and after the session for those who eat, compared to those who fast. 
In addition, you should know that the area of nutrition advice is a big controversy in the fitness industry.  Nutrition is critical to a healthy lifestyle and weight loss, and trainers should be up to date with the latest information.  However, only a RD (Registered Dietician) is qualified to give specific dietary advice.  In most states, anyone can call him or herself a nutritionist, but there are strict standards for RDs.  Be very wary when listening to advice (or buying supplements) from a personal trainer who is not a RD.
For those who are just not hungry in the morning, you should know that study after study show that those who eat breakfast weigh less and have a lower rate of diabetes than those who skip.  Try eating something light, such as a yogurt and fruit or whole wheat toast with peanut butter, you will have a better workout, burn more fat and calories, and feel better all day.

Paoli, A., Marcolin, G., Zonin, F. Neri, M. Sivieri, A., and Pacelli, Q.F. (2011). Exercising fasting or fed to enhance fat loss? Influence of food intake on respiratory ratio and excess postexercise oxygen consumption after a bout of endurance training. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 21, 48-54.

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