Weight Loss: How Meal Timing Affects Results
If you’ve wondered if it’s better to exercise on an empty stomach, before breakfast, or eat breakfast and then do your training session, I’ll review it here.
For years we have been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and that you need to eat a good nutritious breakfast to have the best exercise session. But is that really true? Here are some benefits of exercising on an empty stomach, which means, before you eat breakfast or whatever happens to be your first meal of the day if you’re intermittently fasting, like I do.
Fasted exercise improves glucose and insulin levels, reducing the risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes;
As I explain in Today is Still the Day, exercising on an empty stomach is particularly effective for fat loss, as it reduces both total body weight and body fat percentage. Exercising after eating only reduces body weight;
Reduce your food intake for the rest of the day, resulting in an overall energy deficit of about 400 calories;
It can stimulate growth hormone and testosterone production, which prevents depression and optimizes tissue regeneration;
People who skipped breakfast and exercised on an empty stomach had better mid-afternoon working memory and reported less mental fatigue and tension at the end of the day than those who ate cereal before exercising.
Helps prevent depression.
Exercise and fasting together cause oxidative stress, which helps counteract muscle aging.
So I think it’s safe to say that if fat loss and improved muscle health is your primary goal, working out fast would be the way to go.
Another big plus is that exercising while fasting for more than 14-18 hours (which you might do if you’re intermittent fasting) probably activates as much autophagy as if you were fasting for two or three days by increasing AMPK, NAD+, and inhibiting mTOR. Autophagy is the process by which the body cleanses damaged cells to regenerate newer, healthier cells. It occurs during prolonged fasting.
So you should never eat before exercising? It is not appropriate for everyone. It depends on your age, when you last ate, whether or not you’re pregnant, medication use, medical history, fitness level, whether or not you’re metabolically flexible, and the type of exercise you do. If you feel weak, dizzy, nauseous, or lightheaded, you should probably eat something before you exercise. I certainly wouldn’t recommend a bowl of cereal, by the way. A light protein meal, such as a small whey protein shake, is a good option.
As with all things, it’s always best to listen to your body and use wisdom to find what works best for you.
Do you eat before exercising or do you routinely exercise on an empty stomach?