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Study: Breakfast before exercise burns more carbs

By Allen Cone
Study: Breakfast before exercise burns more carbs
A study found people who eat breakfast before exercise burn more carbohydrates. Photo by piviso/pixabay

Aug. 15 (UPI) -- People who eat breakfast before exercising burn more carbohydrates and more rapidly digest post-workout meals, a study found.

Scientists from the University of Bath's Department for Health in England, working with colleagues at Birmingham, Newcastle and Stirling universities, studied the regimen. Their findings were published Tuesday in the American Journal of Physiology.

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For the first time, researchers studied the effect of eating breakfast versus fasting overnight before an hour of cycling.

"This study suggests that, at least after a single bout of exercise, eating breakfast before exercise may 'prime' our body, ready for rapid storage of nutrition when we eat meals after exercise," Rob Edinburgh, a Ph.D. student in the Department for Health at Bath, said in a press release.

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The blood glucose levels and muscle glycogen levels of 12 healthy male volunteers were studied.

Eating a breakfast of porridge two hours before cycling increased the rate at which carbohydrates were burned during exercise and increased the rate the body digested and metabolized food eaten after exercise.

Breakfast before exercise increased post-exercise plasma glucose disposal rates during the test from 44 grams to 73 grams.

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"We also found that breakfast before exercise increases carbohydrate burning during exercise, and that this carbohydrate wasn't just coming from the breakfast that was just eaten, but also from carbohydrate stored in our muscles as glycogen," Edinburgh said. "This increase in the use of muscle glycogen may explain why there was more rapid clearance of blood sugar after 'lunch' when breakfast had been consumed before exercise."

By extrapolating from other studies conducted on people fasting, they found this starvation method may not be reliable.

"Whilst fasting prior to laboratory trials is common in order to control for baseline metabolic status, these conditions may preclude the application of findings to situations most representative of daily living, because most people are not fasted during the day," study co-leader Dr. Javier Gonzalez, a senior lecturer in the Department of Health, said.

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The researchers want to study the longer-term implications of this regimen.

"The longer-term implications of this work are unclear, and we have ongoing studies looking at whether eating breakfast before or after exercise on a regular basis influences health," Edinburgh said.

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