Burn more fat with morning exercise

What dieter wouldn’t love to discover a magical way to burn extra fat?  The answer may be as simple as exercising before breakfast.  Research actually backs this up.  In one study, subjects were fed a high fat/high calorie diet, and divided into 3 exercise groups:

  1. no exercise
  2. exercise after eating a carbohydrate meal
  3. exercise while fasting

The subjects who exercised while fasting avoided gaining any weight during the 6 week study period.  They also had better insulin and glucose levels.  The main study drawback is that the small study group were all healthy young men, who could perform strenuous daily exercise.  A similar study of overweight men published a few months ago showed similar results.  Exercising before eating resulted in more fat burning and improved insulin response.  But again, this was a very small study of only 10 men.

Despite these limitations, a new study adds support to the exercise-before-breakfast concept.  This study examined whether exercising in the morning, before eating breakfast, would cause people to compensate later in the day by overeating.  Again, the subjects were physically active men.  Everyone exercised in the morning, but half the subjects had already eaten breakfast, and half were fasting.  After performing a treadmill exercise, they all drank a milkshake.  Later they were all offered a pasta lunch.  Results: the fasting exercisers burned about 20% more fat calories, but they did not eat more of the pasta lunch to compensate for that.

If you’re trying to control your weight, exercising before breakfast might give you an advantage.  The main drawback for most people is time.  Mornings are very busy, especially if you have a long commute and/or have children.  And winter complicates any early morning exercise schedule.  It’s dark out, not to mention cold.  Not exactly conducive to activity.  But think of it this way: if you get your exercise out of the way first thing, you don’t have to worry about finding time to squeeze it in later on.  Here are some ideas to maximize your chances for morning exercise success:

  • Get up earlier, even just 30 minutes earlier, to fit in a workout.
  • Join a gym or rec center that is nearby and opens early enough to make sense for your schedule.
  • Make use of exercise facilities, whether in your apartment complex, hotel or place of work.
  • Eat breakfast at work or school, after your workout.
  • Enlist friends or family to join you for early morning work outs, to make it safer and more fun.
  • Organize early morning fitness or aerobic-type classes at your office.
  • Be flexible.  It would be great if you could do this every day, or even 5 days a week.  But if you can’t, do it as often as possible.  Even if your early a.m. workouts are limited to weekends, it’s much better than doing nothing at all.

If you can’t arrange early morning exercise, don’t despair.  In all the studies, exercise after eating a meal was still more beneficial than not exercising at all.  You just may not get the extra fat-burning effect.  Exercise will make you feel better, improve your fitness and help you moderate your appetite.  It’s an essential part of any weight control program.

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