Before heading out for that cardio workout, should you load up on a meal, or wait until after to indulge? And is working out first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach, really as healthy as fueling up first?
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In a new study, published in the American Journal of Physiology — Endocrinology and Metabolism, overweight male volunteers walked for 60 minutes at 60 percent maximum oxygen consumption (that’s fairly briskly) on an empty stomach and then in another workout, did the same activity two hours after consuming a high-calorie carbohydrate-rich breakfast.
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The way their bodies used stored fat differed enough for scientists to conclude that working out on an empty stomach could actually be beneficial to one’s health.
As the researchers write:
These results reinforce the view that “adipose tissue often faces competing challenges,” Thompson wrote. After eating, adipose tissue “is busy responding to the meal and a bout of exercise at this time will not stimulate the same [beneficial] changes in adipose tissue. This means that exercise in a fasted state might provoke more favorable changes in adipose tissue, and this could be beneficial for health in the long term,” he noted.
So, next time you reach for that carbo-loading meal right before a workout, take into consideration that if fat loss is your goal, you could be better off loading up after getting sweaty, not before. It’s important to note that the study only looks at overweight males doing light cardio, and more research is needed for leave women, average or underweight people, and those doing weight training. Either way, always do what makes you feel your best.
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