With the New Year in full swing and many already struggling with their resolutions, people often look for ways to “reboot” their resolution objectives. For a large number of individuals, weight loss often plays a key role in their plans for the New Year, and they are left to look for a solid method to either kick start their program or bust through a plateau.
The good news is, recent studies have shown that there are benefits to exercising early in the morning other than the simple advantage of getting your workout completed before daily events have the chance to interfere. In particular, there were very interesting results from a study in the Journal of Physiology showing the effects of exercising pre-breakfast in a fasted state on weight gain, insulin resistance and fat utilization.
Researchers recruited healthy, active young individuals and fed them a bad diet for ten weeks (high calorie, high fat). A group of them that exercised before breakfast gained almost no weight and showed no signs of insulin resistance. What’s more, they even burned the fat that they were consuming more efficiently.
The study in question lasted for twelve weeks and included healthy adults who were divided into three groups. Each group ate a hyper-caloric diet beyond their daily calorie needs but was split up according to their exercise requirements. One group exercised before eating a carbohydrate-rich breakfast and drank only water during exercise; one group ate a carbohydrate-rich breakfast before exercising; and one group did not exercise at all. Those who exercised either ran or cycled at a moderately high intensity four times per week.
Overall, the subjects had identical high-calorie, high-fat diets. The primary difference was whether – and most importantly, when – they exercised. At the end of the trial, researchers found the following results:
- The non-exercising control group had gained an average of more than ten pounds and had developed insulin resistance, which is a precursor to type-2 diabetes.
- Those who ate breakfast prior to hitting the gym gained an average of about five pounds; half the weight gain of those who did not exercise. However, they too had developed the same level of insulin resistance as the group that did not exercise.
- The only group that gained almost no weight, and showed no signs of insulin resistance were those who exercised before eating breakfast, and drank only water during their workout.
This study suggests that exercising in the morning prior to eating can significantly lessen the ill effects of a poor diet while, at the same time, aiding in weight loss. Specifically, the authors concluded that the study “for the first time shows that fasted training is more potent than fed training to facilitate adaptations in muscle and to improve whole-body glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity during hyper-caloric fat-rich diet.”
This is powerful evidence that occasional indulgences do not have to lead to excessive weight gain, and something as simple as modifying your schedule to exercise before eating your first meal of the day can have a very beneficial and protective impact on your health and weight.
Beyond the study’s conclusions, however, one can only imagine the even better results that may occur if eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. Perhaps it is worth a try to incorporate morning exercise on an empty stomach to get back on the path or reach new levels of success!