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Should You Eat Breakfast Before You Exercise?

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

exercising in a fasted state

Story at-a-glance -

  • The timing of breakfast impacts your body’s responses to exercise. Exercising in a fasted state improves glucose and insulin parameters, lowering your risk of insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes
  • Skipping breakfast before exercise helps curb food intake for the remainder of the day, resulting in an overall energy deficit of about 400 calories
  • Women who skipped breakfast and worked out on an empty stomach had better working memory in the midafternoon and reported less mental fatigue and tension later in the day than those who ate cereal before exercising
  • Fasted exercise is particularly effective for fat loss. Previous research has shown aerobic training in a fasted state lowers both total body weight and body fat percentage, while exercising in a fed state decreases total weight only
  • Fasted exercise may also boost growth hormone and testosterone production, help prevent depression and optimize tissue regeneration

If you’re in the habit of eating breakfast before exercising in the morning, you may want to reconsider the order in which you start your day as there are significant benefits to exercising in a fasted state.

A common belief is that you need to eat breakfast to optimize exercise performance. While there’s evidence to support this stance, other evidence suggests you can reap important health benefits by exercising in a fasted state.


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