Do you have to eat breakfast to get better gym results
There is a continuous debate over whether it’s better to exercise before or after you’ve had breakfast. Both sided have good reasons as to why they support their case and here we’ll examine them in order to help you choose which of the both to stick to. So let’s start and explore
the topic in details. But remember to keep in mind that different things may work for different people so you may need to experiment a little bit in order to find what’s best for you.
Training before breakfast
When your stomach is empty, it starts a whole cascade of hormonal changes in the entire body which are conductive to burning fat and building muscle. This is sometimes called a ‘fasted’ state and here are its main effects:
- Improves the insulin sensitivity. When you eat your body releases the hormone insulin in order for you to be able to absorb the nutrients which you’ve consumed from the food. Then insulin directs the blood sugars out of the bloodstream and into the liver, fat cells and muscles where they are stored as sources of energy for a later use. But if you eat too often or too much the body becomes more resistant to the effects of the insulin. If your insulin sensitivity is poor this leads to an increased risk of cancer and heart disease and makes the process of losing fat harder. This issue can be remedied by eating less often because this way the body releases insulin not as often and our body gets more sensitive to it which makes the process of losing fat easier and improves the flow of the blood to the muscle.
- Also, the ‘fasting’ state might promote the fat loss and the muscle gain due to the growth hormone – that hormone promotes the make-up of new muscle tissue, helps the loss of fat and improves the physical function and the bone quality. We should also mention the testosterone which is another important hormone when one wants to lose fat and/or gain muscle mass – in the meantime it also improves the levels of energy, boosts your libido and may even help you in the fight with heart problems and depression. An easy way to produce more of the growth hormone and the testosterone is to exercise while you are fasted – aka when you haven’t eaten – for this creates the optimal circumstances for your body to burn fat and build muscle.
Training after breakfast
The body requires certain amounts of sugars when training because this sugar is used as a fuel (energy source). When you don’t have enough blood sugar to support the energy production the body will make energy by using the muscle tissue. A study showed the difference between
cyclists who ate before training and those who didn’t. Both groups burned the same amount of fast but the ones who hadn’t eaten before the training had % of their burned calories come from protein – and protein, as we all know, is detrimental for muscle tissue.
Also, if you want to train intensively, the body needs a larger amount of energy. We know that for optimal results the intensity training should be done at a higher pace. But is this possible when you haven’t supplied your body with enough fuel to make the necessary energy? If you don’t eat breakfast before a workout, you cannot train as intensively as you would if you have consumed breakfast. And the levels of stamina, strength and speed won’t be enough to allow you to burn calories and give you optimal results due to you probably being with a low blood sugar which leads to sluggishness and dizziness.
It’s not necessary to binge eat before workout – you can simply have a healthy snack. It’s recommended that you have breakfast about 45-60 minutes before you work out.
Still, what we said about the body switching to protein for fuel is true only when you train at a high intensity. If you work out moderately, your body will probably have enough glycogen stores from the previous meals you’ve had.
And let’s look at another aspect of training after breakfast. So, people say that you should work out after breakfast because your body is hungry and this will speed up the weight loss. Yes, it has been shown that exercisers who trained on an empty stomach burned about 20% more fat than the ones who ate before training. This is because your body needs to burn the glycogen in order to gain energy for intense physical activity. And when the glycogen reserves run out, then the body will start to use the fat. But…your body doesn’t like to be in a state of hunger, neither does it like to have its fat stores depleted completely. If there is a rapid loss of fat, the body starts to adjust its metabolism as a compensatory mechanism. That is a sort of survival mode in which the body burns less calories. This is because when you burn too much fat the body thinks that it’s starved and needs to store more fat when you have your next meal – and this counteracts the benefits of burning fats. One study showed that if you fast for extensive periods of time your resting metabolic rates may drop.
Also, if you have put some ‘fuel’ in your body before energy this may lead to a suppression of the appetite more than the fasted state will do. And one study showed that the participants who ate breakfast before working out had less urge to eat later during the day. And since part of the weight-loss program is to cut on your calories, this may be better for people who want to lose weight.
Different things work for different people. Some find it better to eat breakfast before training while others prefer not to. Both methods have their scientific support so it’s important to find what works best for you and what makes you feel better.