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Eating breakfast burns more carbs during exercise and accelerates metabolism for next meal.

New research published in the American Journal of Physiology suggests that eating breakfast could ‘prime’ the body to burn carbohydrates during exercise and more rapidly metabolise foods after working out.
Eating breakfast before exercise may “prime” the body to burn carbohydrates during exercise and more rapidly digest food after working out. Credit: Javier Gonzalez

Eating breakfast before exercise may “prime” the body to burn carbohydrates during exercise and more rapidly digest food after working out, University of Bath researchers have found.

Scientists from the University’s Department for Health, working with colleagues at the universities of Birmingham, Newcastle and Stirling, were studying the effect of eating breakfast versus fasting overnight before an hour’s cycling.

They discovered that eating breakfast increased the rate at which the body burned carbohydrates during exercise, as well as increasing the rate the body digested and metabolised food eaten after exercise too.

Dr. Javier Gonzalez, senior lecturer in the Department of Health who co-led the study, said: “This is the first study to examine the ways in which breakfast before exercise influences our responses to meals after exercise. 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.”

Rob Edinburgh, Ph.D. student in the Department for Health who co-led the study, said: “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. 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.

The study is published in American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism August 15, 2018

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