Study: Breakfast Pre-Exercise May Increase Nutrient Metabolization

To breakfast, or not to breakfast, that is the question. Breakfast is often referred to as the most important meal of the day, but that’s been seen as a slight exaggeration. After all, the most important meal(s) of the day are those that allow you to feel the best and perform the best, so to say one is the king is kind of a stretch.

We’ve written about breakfast before, and how it can impact muscle growth, strength, and fat loss. Realistically, it’s ideal to eat in a way that once again allows you to perform your best, but if you’re in the camp of needing breakfast before taking on the day, or working out for the matter, then you may want to check out this recent research regarding breakfast pre-exercise.

New Breakfast Research

In a study published earlier this week, researchers sought out to explore how breakfast consumption and fasted states impacted postprandial glucose flux after exercise. A postprandial glucose measurement (which usually comes after a meal) is essentially used to assess the amount of glucose that’s present in the blood (blood glucose levels). Glucose is made from carbohydrates we consume, and is one of our body’s main energy sources.

For their research, authors had twelve healthy male volunteers perform a 60-minute cycling workout and either consume a breakfast made of porridge and milk 2-hours before exercise, or omit breakfast completely. For the control group comparison, they had one set of volunteers consume breakfast, then completely rest for three hours.

After the bout of exercise, researchers assessed blood glucose and muscle glycogen levels. They found that those who consumed breakfast had higher rates of plasma glucose disposal, aka burned more glucose (carbs) following the workout, and saw an increase in metabolism for the following meal.

In a press release published by the University of Bath, Dr. Javier Gonzalez, one of the co-leaders of the study stated, “This is the first study to examine the ways in which breakfast before exercise influences our responses to meals after exercise. 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.”

Additionally, Rob Edinburgh a PhD student who served as another co-leader of the study said, “We also found that breakfast before exercise increases carbohydrate burning during exercise, and that this carbohydrate wasn’t just coming from the breakfast that was just eaten, but also from carbohydrate stored in our muscles as glycogen. This 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.”

Practical Takeaway

The practical takeaway of this study and what the authors suggest is that the consumption of breakfast before exercise may serve as a primer for nutrient storage and absorption for later in the day. This could be important news for the strength athlete who lifts in the morning and is continually trying to optimize their body’s ability to absorb key nutrients for directed growth.

Feature image from @micheiiiiiii Instagram page. 

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Jake holds a Master's in Sports Science and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Jake serves as one of the full time writers and editors at BarBend. He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and has spoken at state conferences on the topics of writing in the fitness industry and building a brand. As of right now, Jake has published over 1,100 articles related to strength athletes and sports. Articles about powerlifting concepts, advanced strength & conditioning methods, and topics that sit atop a strong science foundation are Jake's bread-and-butter. On top of his personal writing, Jake edits and plans content for 15 writers and strength coaches who come from every strength sport.Prior to BarBend, Jake worked for two years as a strength and conditioning coach for hockey and lacrosse players, and was a writer at the Vitamin Shoppe's corporate office. Jake regularly competes in powerlifting in the 181 lb weight class, and considers himself a weightlifting shoe sneaker head. On the side of writing full time, Jake works as a part-time strength coach and works with clients through his personal business Concrete Athletics in Hoboken and New York City.