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Breakfast before or after exercise—which torches more fat?

By Kerri-Ann Jennings, May 10, 2011 - 11:52am

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Breakfast before or after exercise—which torches more fat?

You probably know that there are benefits to eating breakfast. Regular breakfast eaters tend to be leaner and are more successful at losing weight. Breakfast also provides a chance to get in some healthy food groups—whole grains, fruit, milk—so it’s no wonder breakfast eaters usually have a higher-quality diet than nonbreakfast eaters. But when it comes to what time you eat breakfast, does it make a difference? If you’re a morning exerciser, is does.

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Eating breakfast after working out may be the smarter choice, writes Holly Pevzner in the May/June issue of EatingWell Magazine. That’s the finding from a new study published in The Journal of Physiology. For the 6-week study, researchers split exercisers into three groups—one exercised on an empty stomach and ate breakfast afterward, the second ate before the workout, while a third ate the breakfast without exercising, acting as the control. I should mention that the breakfast was very high in calories (675)—not exactly what most people eat each day—and that’s what makes the results all the more surprising.

Must-Read: 4 Foods to Boost Your Next Workout

The exercisers who ate breakfast before working out gained weight (about 3 pounds), as did those in the control group (7 pounds). But those who exercised on an empty stomach gained almost no weight (the groups ate the same meals during the rest of the day too). Why? When you exercise, you release adrenaline, a hormone that helps turn fat into energy. But that adrenaline spike is blunted by insulin, which your body releases to help you digest food, according to lead researcher Karen Van Proeyen, Ph.D. So when it comes to breakfast and morning exercise, try eating after. Can’t wait that long? Leslie Bonci, R.D., director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh suggests splitting your breakfast in two: “Have a 4-oz. yogurt before the workout and have whole-grain toast with peanut butter and a banana afterward.”

Recipes to Try:
Quick Breakfast Taco
Almond-Honey Power Bar


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TAGS: Kerri-Ann Jennings, Diet Blog, Breakfast, Diet, Fitness, Food & health news, Nutrition, Weight loss

Kerri-Ann Jennings
Kerri-Ann Jennings is a registered dietitian with a master's degree in nutrition from Columbia University.

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