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Skip Breakfast Before Your Workout and Burn More Fat

Posted Jun 17 2010 4:08pm

To eat or NOT to eat before a workout ?? Will I burn more fat if I skip breakfast before my workout? This will be a topic of debate for as long as the sun sets in the west. Talk to 100 fitness professionals and ask them if skipping breakfast before your workout will help you burn more fat and I bet you’ll have evenly divided opinions on both sides of the fence.
Many athletes eat before training and most need to in order to get through their mega intense and sometimes long workouts. Remember all the hullabalu made over what Michael Phelps eats for breakfast?  Another example of an elite athlete is Lance (photo above). His pre-workout breakfast quoted by his trainer Chris Carmichael is “ Armstrong's feast will include two bowls of whole grain cereal topped with skim milk and fresh fruit, a three- or four-egg omelet and some pasta, rice or potatoes. And don't forget the two cups of Peet's Coffee," Carmichael also says that  "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially for athletes and active people.” "A lot of your body's stored carbohydrate is burned up as you sleep, and that's energy your brain needs in order to have a productive morning." You have to admit that, especially from looking at the photo above, (hope that got your attention…) that Lance is the “King of Lean”. However, I know for sure that if I ate that type of breakfast, I’d pack the pounds on like crazy!

So what does the research say? In my opinion, you can find research to support pretty much whatever point you’re trying to prove, but there have been a few studies lately that do suggest that if you really want to get rid of more fat, you should skip the pre-workout meal.

The theory is…muscles usually use the energy system that burns carbohydrates (glycogen) stored in the muscles and liver for fuel. That’s why Lance and Michael mow down all those goodies before a race. But if you don’t eat before exercise, your body won’t have as many carbs in reserve. That forces your body to switch energy systems and burn more fat instead. Peter Hespel, a professor of exercise physiology at the University of Leuven in Belgium said that "When you exercise (after fasting), your adrenalin is high and your insulin is low," "That ratio is favorable for your muscles to oxidize (break down) more fatty acids." Makes sense to me. Hespel proved that in a 2007 study .   British researchers had similar findings.  Although members of the group that didn't eat performed worse on their intensive training, they burned a higher proportion of fat to carbohydrates than the group that ate.

So it looks to me that if you’re not out to win a race, workout a day or two a week on an empty stomach and you’ll get a head start on your six pack for summer. Truthfully, I prefer working out first thing in the morning without food in my stomach. I usually feel better, how about you? Let us know in the comment section.
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