You might think it wise to fuel up before a long run or cycle, but the latest research suggests you might be better off ignoring your gut instinct.
Professor Dylan Thompson, at the University of Bath, asked a group of overweight men to do two exercise sessions, first two hours after a 600-calorie breakfast and then, on another occasion, with an empty stomach. Tests identified differences in gene expression levels that signalled just how their bodies’ fat tissue responded differently depending on whether they had consumed food or not.
“Internal fat stores are broken down, to a greater degree, to sustain exercise following fasting,” says Prof Thompson. “Following breakfast, energy will come from the food that has just been consumed.”
So, if you want to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, or just lose weight, you might want to skip breakfast before a workout. On the other hand, if you are trying to beat your personal best or competing, go for a high-energy meal two to three hours beforehand. People with type 1 diabetes are, however, advised to eat before exercise to avoid the risk of hypoglycaemia.