Eat Before that Workout

By Charlyn Fargo

August 17, 2018 4 min read

You might want to grab a Greek yogurt before that morning workout. Most of us know to replenish our muscles after a workout — with a glass of chocolate milk or protein shake — but new research shows that eating before a workout may be just as important.

Researchers at the University of Bath found that eating breakfast before exercising may prime the body to burn carbohydrates during that exercise — and cause you to more rapidly digest food after working out.

Researchers studied the effect of eating breakfast versus fasting overnight before an hour's cycling. In a control test, breakfast was followed by three hours of rest. The volunteers ate a breakfast of porridge made with milk two hours before exercise.

After the rest, the researchers tested the blood glucose levels and muscle glycogen levels of the 12 healthy male volunteers who took part.

They discovered that eating breakfast increased the rate at which the body burned carbohydrates during exercise, as well as increasing the rate the body digested and metabolized food eaten after exercise, too.

"This is the first study to examine the ways in which breakfast before exercise influences our responses to meals after exercise," said Javier Gonzalez, senior lecturer in the Department of Health who co-led the study. "We found that, compared to skipping breakfast, eating breakfast before exercise increases the speed at which we digest, absorb and metabolize carbohydrate that we may eat after exercise."

In addition, researchers found that breakfast before exercise increased carbohydrate burning during exercise, but not just from the breakfast that was just eaten, but from carbohydrate stored in muscles as glycogen. The increase in the use of muscle glycogen may explain why there was more rapid clearance of blood sugar after lunch when breakfast had been consumed before exercise.

"This study suggests that, at least after a single bout of exercise, eating breakfast before exercise may 'prime' our body, ready for rapid storage of nutrition when we eat meals after exercise."

The study is published in American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Q and A

Q: I see there are California avocados and Florida avocados. Is there a difference in nutritional value?

A: Florida avocados are the larger, smooth-skinned choices. California avocados are usually the Hess variety and are smaller and have a pebbly skin. The biggest nutritional difference between California and Florida avocados is their fat content. For each portion (just under 2 ounces), a California avocado contains 8 grams fo fat while a Florida avocado has about 5 grams of fat. More than half the fat in avocados is the healthy monounsaturated fat. This difference in fat content also means that Florida avocados are a little lower in calories. For each portion, the Florida variety has 60 calories versus about 80 for the California one. Otherwise, nutritional value of the two types is similar. Avocados contain the B vitamin folate, vitamin K and fiber. Many people prefer the rich flavor of California avocados, and for guacamole and other dips, it's hard to beat their creamy texture. For slices in a salad, however, some prefer the way the Florida type holds its shape. Either is a great way to add flavor, fiber and a healthy fat to your meal while adding essentially no sodium. — American Institute for Cancer Research.

Charlyn Fargo is a registered dietitian at Hy-Vee in Springfield, Ill., and the media representative for the Illinois Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. For comments or questions, contact her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @Nutrition Rd. To find out more about Charlyn Fargo and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo credit: at Pixabay

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