Eat This to Burn 50% More Fat When Working Out

By , SparkPeople Blogger
A new study in The Journal of Nutrition shows that what you eat beforehand could affect the calorie burn during your workout. Women who ate a breakfast high in low-glycemic index carbs (whole grain breads, low-fat yogurt or non-instant oatmeal, for example) burned 50 percent more fat in a post-breakfast workout than those who ate a breakfast of high-glycemic index carbs (cornflakes, white bread or waffles, for example.)

Participants ate either a high- or the low-glycemic index breakfast, and then walked on a treadmill for 60 minutes three hours later. Blood samples determined a 50 percent difference in the amount of fat burned between the two groups. High glycemic-index carbs tend to cause a spike in blood sugar. Researchers theorize that eating a meal rich in lower glycemic-index carbs may boost the body's use of its resources for fat burning instead of blood sugar.

So what does this mean for you? First, it's important to note that this study was done on women of normal weight, not women trying to lose weight. But the researchers theorize that the results could also apply to those who have a weight loss goal. I feel that when it comes to weight loss, what really matters is the total number of calories you're burning, not necessarily where they are coming from (fat, glycogen, etc.) So I wonder whether or not it's going to affect your weight loss progress if you burn more fat.

I think the strategy used in this study could work well if you're not going to exercise for a while after your meal. But if you're like me, you'll need to eat something within an hour or so before working out or you'll start to feel lightheaded. In that case, I tend to eat higher glycemic-index foods that give me the immediate boost of energy I'll need.

In the end, I think it's important to experiment and figure out what's going to work best for you. What foods give you the energy you need to complete your workout? How long do you wait to exercise after eating a meal or snack? What do you think about this study?

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I have ulcerative colitis so I can't eat oatmeal, but I do workout usually on an empty stomach. So maybe I should try the yogurt and wait a half hour and see if there's any difference. Report
I liked your attitude !! This could be interesting and perhaps relevant to you --- take the data and check it out .... thanks for the info Report
It seems reasonable. Report
eating more complex carbs is ALWAYS a good idea, whatever the reason may be. i have GERD so I have to wait at least 2 hours after eating a meal before i can work out. ive found that exactly 2 hours after a meal my energy level is at its highest (unless i've eaten all junk). wait much longer than that and the moment has passed and i'm headed towards an energy slump. but basically, i just focus on eating as much healthy food as i can, limit the junk, get the workouts in, and it all works out in the end. Report
Why do people only eat half a banana? I have never understood that. Tee hee! But if eating half is better, I'll give that a try before working out. Report
I've been eating low-GI for several years now, and have finally reached my goal weight just last month. Breakfast is always some low-GI cereal or toast (steel-cut oatmeal is a favorite, as is whole-grain whole-wheat or multigrain with a little peanut butter), and I eat before I go for my morning walk/run. I can't speak to how it's affected the percentage of fat burned, but I can say I feel great! After I get home from the walk/run, I usually have a container of nonfat, no-sugar-added yogurt (I have never, ever developed the taste for the plain stuff) and perhaps a banana or an apple. Works for me. Report
3 mornings a week I take 2 back to back water aerobic classes, I'm not much of a breakfast eater first thing in the morning, but if i don't eat something I can't make it through the second class. I make a shake of fruit flavored protein powder, low sodium V8 and milled flaxseed. Gives me a serving of protein and veggies and usually lasts til lunchtime, (along with all the water I drink). Report
I have often read in articles and books on nutrition that it is important to eat within a half hour to an hour of arising in the morning. I also have read that eating protein early in the morning, and then exercising sometime after that, increases one's energy and keep the metabolism going longer. So, I always get up, wash up and get dressed, then eat a good breakfast -- usually wholegrain cereal and fruit, or sometimes eggs and whole wheat toast. When I do my cardio about an hour or two later, I have lots of energy! But, when I have tried to exercise before eating, or even later in the day, such as after dinner, I have to drag myself through my routine. Report
Me too, I get up at 5 and do my walk or swim. When I get home I shower and get dressed for work. Then, in the few mins I have left, I eat breakfast. There just isn't time to have breakfast, wait and then do my exercise. Report
I wonder if it's a bad choice to not eat anything before working out . . . I like to jog first thing in the morning before it gets too hot, and I'm not the best at rising early, so I hardly ever have time to eat breakfast and wait for digestion. If I eat too soon, after all, I get side cramps. Hm. Report
I will eat something light befor I work out with some protien and carbs and after I work out I eat some coplex carb . Great blog Report
I go for a walk within 30 minutes of getting up in the morning. When I return home, I put the coffee on to perk while I do a short arm, leg or core workout. After that I feel that I am ready to eat and usually have a high fiber, protein cereal with yogurt and fruit. 3 hours later I am starving. I might try the cheese and half banana before I work out that was suggested by another reader to see how that works. Thanks for the suggestions. Report
For the morning workout, I have to have either a banana or a yogurt before; I drink plenty of water and normally will wait an hour after the workout to eat breakfast.

I wake up with my husband each morning at 5 AM and start my day with breakfast with something whole grain (whole wheat bagel, oatmeal or cream of wheat, or another high fiber cereal) and I have a fruit with it. Usually the one that works the best is a banana and when I've got it on hand I eat non-fat yogurt. About 30 -60 minutes later I do yoga and strength training. Then once I get my son off on the bus I do my cardio. I make sure to follow up my workouts about 30 minutes later with a meal or snack (fruit or almonds). This keeps my energy high with no lows. Report
I've started working out in the morning, before work. I eat afterwards, maybe I should rethink this. Report
My spouse and I usually eat as soon as I walk in the door from work, because he gets home 1 1/2 hours before me and usually has dinner ready. Then , we change clothes and work out immediately after. The one exception is a workout we do with a lot of jumping, and we usually have something in the oven cooking while we work out then eat afterwards to avoid tummy upset. Report
This is a good one! I forwarded it to all my weight-conscious friends in an email! Report
Thanks for posting. I usually eat breakfast after working out in the morning. Time to change my habits. Report
That's it! I'm going to put eggs/eggbeaters on the grocery list and get some tomorrow! That, and a slice of toast will be good enough for me before a morning workout. Report
I drink black coffee while doing my stint on the exercise bike every morning, then my breakfast always consists of one zucchini, several mushrooms, leftover veggies from dinner and 1/2 cup egg subs. or egg whites. Flaxmeal, minced garlic, and then some grated Parmasan on top. Hot salt added during cooking. Makes 3 cups of food. Have done that for several years, and I do at least 3 hrs. on the bike each day, not all at once. Keeps the weight off and keeps the weight down. Never eat cereal of any kind anymore. Report
Well, I don't eat cornflakes, white bread or waffles anyway! I do eat whole grain breads and low-fat yogurt. We NEVER skip breakfast anymore. We feel better all day for having a good breakfast -- which may be an egg, fruit, lowfat yogurt, etc.
I never eat before an am workout...but I have oatmeal and skim milk after! Report
On the days that I work out in the morning, I usually don't eat until after my workout. This makes understand why it is better to eat, even if just a little something, before. Report
I run 6 miles first thing in the morning. I used to eat a healthy breakfast about an hour afterward and then ended up so hungry the rest of the day. My nutritionist told me that by not eating something (even as simple as a cheese stick and a half a banana) before the run, my body was essentially starving and couldn't catch up. Now I eat that simple snack before the run and I don't get that crazy starving feeling all morning and afternoon. Report
OH! This is why I'm to eat a high protein in am/carbs not to exceed 10 grams.
mid am I have my coffee (whoops) and 1 cup of low GL veggies cooked.
Lunch 1 cup of lettuce, protein, 1 carb wild rice or beans, 1 cup of veggies.
Intolerant to wheat/gluten, Allergy to mold, mildew fungi, soy. Report
It seems like the study is a little off see as how the PROPORTION of Cal burned, not the actual amount of Cal burned is not as important for someone who is trying to lose weight. This study's findings are really only pertinent for endurance athletes.
I wake up starving every morning. I teach two, morning fitness classes per week and absolutely have to eat something beforehand (learned my lesson the hard way when I almost passed out 1/2 way through a class). I don't pay attention to the glycemic factor, it is usually some instant oatmeal or a cup of kashi cereal w/ skim milk and a cup of joe w/ fat free 1/2&1/2. This is just the right amount of food for me, not too heavy and gives me the energy to get a great workout and motivate a classfull of people. Report
Wow its nice to see I'm doing something right.. I eat a high fiber, breakfast with 1/4 cup of non-fat yogurt then I get a good cardio work out in.. Report
My exercising is usually done in the late afternoon, after work. When I exercise in the morning (weekends), I usually have a small snack first. Since I exercise soon after, I will stick to a higher glycemic, faster to digest food. I usually eat a small portion of cereal with milk or a 1/2 of a banana. Report
I've read all the comments...many different views. The study makes sense to me. You're body will use the sugar in the blood instead of buring fat if you've eaten lots of carbs before working out. There is the 3 hour factor and what I'm wondering is how long does that sugar stay in your blood after eating lots of carbs? I measure my blood sugar and two hours after a meal I can be elevated to 140. (I'm a diabetic) My normal blood sugar would be about 100. I'm going to check and see 3 hours after having instant oatmeal with berries and see what my blood sugar is. As I stated I think the study makes sense. Report
I have done it both ways - I have worked out at 5:30 AM without anything on my the time my workout is done I am starving. Right now, I work out in the evenings and I find that I am not hungry after I workout. Wondering if these is because in the mornings there is nothing on my stomach and in the evenings, my body is using the foods I have consumed over the course of the day. Report
It's important to note that their definition was _3 hours_ before working out. You probably don't want to eat a lot of low glycemic foods right before you work out. You don't want something moving slowly through your digestive tract. So, if you are eating something before working out, that would be a good time for a piece of fruit or some juice. What I learned was that after 20 minutes of continuous exercise, your body switches to burning more fat. After 3 hours (who does that?!?!) it burns exclusively fat as your glycogen stores are completely depleted. Report
My major workout of the day takes place before I eat breakfast - as soon as I get up. I couldn't possibly workout that early if I've eaten a full meal first. If I'm feeling hungry, my choice is a banana before I work out, but usually my hunger hasn't kicked in till after I've worked out. Anyway, my breakfast of cheerios and OJ keeps me going for about 3 hours till I need a mid-morning snack, usually of yogurt or a piece of fruit. Report
wow... i wouldn't have guessed! I usually have either oatmeal and berries or yogurt and kashi before a workout. I guess I'm already making those extra calories work for me anyway, but it is certainly one more reason to keep dropping the extra cash on a low GI cereal. Report
I have a low glycemic soy based meal replacement before and after my workouts and it works great!!! Report
Most of the time I workout before I eat breakfast, or if I miss my morning workout, then its later in the day, doing something with my kids like walking, playing at the park or bike riding. When I do my morning workout, it is the first thing I do after getting out of bed, then shower, get kids ready for the day, and then eat, I usually eat breakfast any where from an hour to 2 hours after working out, so I am not sure that this tip really even applies to me, except on the days I sneak in an afternoon or early evening workout. I don't like to eat right when I wake up, I'm just usually not that hungry first thing in the morning. Report
I either drink a Smoothie with fresh fruit and low fat milk in the morning, or I eat an Egg McMuffin, either from McDonald's or the Weight Watchers one. Report
Good study. What you eat before a workout, and when, I think, is a matter of an individual's personal physiology, plus, what a person is trying to accomplish--if someone is trying to gain muscle, he, or she, would probably do better to eat a low glycemic food (such as pasta) with some protein an hour or two before a workout, and shortly before the workout, a combination of a small amount of protein and a higher glycemic food.

After the workout, the muscles need glycogen, so a high glycemic food would be good. That is the time a body needs hight glycemic food the most, plus moderate protein. Report
I have to eat breakfast! I'm so hungry in the morning-Usually I have 3 turkey bacon with wheat chex-I measure!! And sometimes fruit when I have it-I exercise mostly in the evening with my hubby-So its about 1 hour after dinner-works well Report
I feel much better eating a carb and protein combo 45 min. before hitting the gym. On days when I don't use the gym and go directly to work, I must watch what I eat and try to keep physically and mentally active. If I slack off, I end up grazing all morning long. Report
I usually have oatmeat for breakfast. Sometimes I will have 2 egg beaters scrambled with salsa and a slice of double fiber bread. I can't eat pancakes, waffles or anything with sugar in it before I work out in the morning as I get sick to my stomach. I also take my vitamins with lunch now as I found they upset my stomach during a workout. Report
I eat Old Fashioned Oatmeal (with soy milk in it) with raisins on top, with some orange juice. I usually go jogging about 30-45 min. after breakfast, and this meal really keeps me going, and I never get cramps. I used to never eat breakfast, now I could not live without it. Report
I have had the benefit of being gestationally diabetic. My doctor said it was a sneak preview of what was to come if I didn't watch my weight. So, nearing my highest pregnancy weight....10 years after my last pregnancy, I joined Spark. I say 'the benefit' because I've had the opportunity to stab my fingers 5 times a day and see exactly what eating simple carbs does to your blood sugar. Luckily, I was able to manage my 'temporary diabetes' throughout my pregnancy, and intend to avoid the opportunity to do it ever again with Spark People, and to avoid taxing my body to the point where it throws in the towel. My niece follows the "No White Food" plan. No white bread, no white sugar.... Essentailly, staying away from 'processed foods' is a BIG BIG BIG step in the right direction for everyone. They sent my blood sugar through the roof, and it's a pretty quick lesson to learn when your fingers ache everytime you touch something. I got off easy. Report
I'm faithful about eating my oatmeal w/berries in the morning. I'm trying to figure out how I can work in exercise - My day starts at 6 a.m. and I'm on the road by 7 a.m. Report
my breakfast habit are terrible. Don't eat breakfast maybe 2 times a week. Why??? No time early jazzericse class cannot eat before and when I get home lunch is almost around the corner Report
Interesting...I don't know that my breakfast affects me since I usually work out after work however I always snack before I work out. I usually snack on something that is high in carbs about 45 mins before I work out. Maybe I should snack on something different. Report
Interesting article.
I usually eat a breakfast bar pre workout, drink lots of water during my workout and then eat breakfast after working out.
well that's nice to know, I usually eat a small, complex carb breakfast (usually half a banana on whole wheat toast with a yogourt)...and I exercise about 45 minutes later. Gives me a little energy boost before the workout...I always feel drained if I workout with no food energy. Report
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