Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It’s been linked with lower risk of diabetes and heart disease, and it may also be the key to burning more carbohydrates during exercise, according to a new report.
Researchers from the University of Bath, in the United Kingdom, recently conducted a study, published in the American Journal of Physiology, to test the effect of eating breakfast before exercise.
To do so, they examined 12 men who ate porridge with milk two hours before doing an hour of cycling. They the men then did the same exercise but skipped breakfast.
After analyzing the results, they found that eating breakfast before physical activity increased the rate of carbohydrates burned during the workout. It also sped up the rate at which the body digested and metabolized food eaten after exercising.
“This is the first study to examine the ways in which breakfast before exercise influences our responses to meals after exercise,” co-author Javier Gonzalez said in a statement. “We found that, compared to skipping breakfast, eating breakfast before exercise increases the speed at which we digest, absorb and metabolise carbohydrate that we may eat after exercise.”
“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,” co-author Rob Edinburgh said.
Furthermore, the researchers noticed that the carbohydrates stored in our muscles as glycogen, -- not just the ones from breakfast -- were being burned, too.
“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,” Edinburgh said.
The researchers said they currently have ongoing studies that are exploring whether eating breakfast before or after exercise on a regular basis influences health.
“In particular, there is a clear need for more research looking at the effect of what we eat before exercise on health outcomes but with overweight participants, who might be at an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” Edinburgh said. “These are some of the questions we will now try to answer.”