Should I skip break­fast be­fore ex­er­cise?

Central Otago Mirror - - CROMWELL BUSINESS HUB - Q: Is it best to not eat break­fast be­fore ex­er­cis­ing in the morn­ing if I want to lose weight? Kirsten Dr Libby is a nutritional biochemist, best-sell­ing au­thor and speaker. The ad­vice con­tained in this col­umn is not in­tended to be a sub­sti­tute for di­rect,

I love this ques­tion be­cause it’s a great ex­am­ple of how im­por­tant it is to tune in to what is best for your own body rather than sim­ply fol­low­ing generic ad­vice.

The ra­tio­nale for ex­er­cis­ing in a ‘‘fasted’’ state is that the lower car­bo­hy­drate (glu­cose) avail­abil­ity will the­o­ret­i­cally lead the body to burn more body fat as fuel, lead­ing to greater body fat loss.

How­ever, sci­en­tific stud­ies haven’t con­sis­tently demon­strated that this is the case. And while it may seem like a sim­ple ques­tion there are many vari­ables that play a role in whether it is body fat or glu­cose that pre­dom­i­nantly fu­els your move­ment, such as the du­ra­tion and in­ten­sity of your work­out and the type of move­ment you are per­form­ing.

The hu­man body is in­cred­i­bly good at adapt­ing too, so your way of eat­ing and your ex­er­cise

his­tory can also play a role in the pro­por­tions of glu­cose and fat used to fuel your move­ment at dif­fer­ent in­ten­si­ties.

As­sum­ing you are ex­er­cis­ing for no more than a hour at a mod­er­ate to high in­ten­sity, your mus­cles will have suf­fi­cient fuel re­serves, so whether or not you eat be­fore­hand re­ally comes down to per­sonal pref­er­ence (and in some cases, your ath­letic or per­for­mance goals).

For ex­am­ple, although you may have enough fuel stored in your mus­cles to com­plete your work­out, ex­er­cis­ing on an empty stom­ach may leave you feel­ing tired, eas­ily fa­tigued or even ill.

This may mean you don’t en­joy the phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity or that you aren’t able to progress and im­prove (which can be im­por­tant for pro­vid­ing a sense of achieve­ment and sat­is­fac­tion) – and en­joy­ment is so crit­i­cal to mak­ing long-term move­ment part of our life­styles.

Con­versely, you may find the op­po­site is true for you – eat­ing too soon be­fore ex­er­cis­ing leads some peo­ple to feel slug­gish and they may ex­pe­ri­ence stom­ach up­set or other di­ges­tive symp­toms. As you can imag­ine, this also im­pacts on the abil­ity to fin­ish the work­out as planned and whether it is a pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence or not.

So, Kirsten, I en­cour­age you to no­tice how eat­ing a nu­tri­tious break­fast be­fore your morn­ing ex­er­cise makes you feel. Do you feel en­er­gised and primed to move, or does it leave you feel­ing un­com­fort­able or slug­gish?

I also can­not en­cour­age you enough to ex­plore and shift your mind­set – rather than fo­cus­ing on what will pro­duce the best (short term) weight loss re­sults, fo­cus on nour­ish­ing and sup­port­ing your body to move in a way that you en­joy and that feels good for you.

You don’t have to lose weight to be healthy, you ac­tu­ally have to be healthy to lose weight. Re­ally think about that. Weight loss is a nat­u­ral byprod­uct of tak­ing even bet­ter care of your­self (if body fat loss is ap­pro­pri­ate for your body shape and size).

So base your choices about how you eat, drink and move on nour­ish­ment – your body is your best barom­e­ter so lis­ten to the mes­sages it is send­ing you and do what works best for you.

123RF

Eat­ing be­fore or after ex­er­cise is very much a per­sonal choice - know your body and how it feels to de­cide what is best for you.

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