BATH, England — Experts often argue that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and when it comes to exercise, a new study clearly agrees. Researchers in the United Kingdom found that eating breakfast “primes” the body to burn more carbohydrates during exercise and metabolize food more efficiently after working out.
The team of researchers from several UK universities recruited 12 healthy adult males for the study, and served them a breakfast comprised of porridge with milk. After two hours, participants in the test group rode their bikes for one hour, while a control group was given a three-hour rest time.
After examining blood and muscle tests on all participants, the authors found that eating breakfast increased the rate the body burns carbohydrates during exercise. It also speeds up the digestion and metabolizing of food eaten after the exercise routine.
“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,” says study co-author Rob Edinburgh, a PhD student at the University of Bath’s Department of Health, in a release.
The authors also had participants ride the bikes for an hour after a night of fasting and compared the results to those who ate a meal prior to cycling.
“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,” says co-leader Dr. Javier Gonzalez, a senior lecturer at the University of Bath’s Department of Health. “This is the first study to examine the ways in which breakfast before exercise influences our responses to meals after exercise.”
The study was published in the American Journal of Physiology–Endocrinology and Metabolism.