Slow down on the fasting, pal

By Tim Nelson
Updated August 17, 2018
Credit: Photo by Villagemoon via Getty Images

Scientific studies can sometimes yield major breakthroughs that change the world. Other times, they’re less exciting and merely uphold centuries-old conventional wisdom. This is one of the latter cases.

Researchers at the University of Bath in the UK were able to confirm what your mother’s been trying to tell you for years: that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. At least when it comes to getting the most out of your workout, that is.

To do that, they recruited 12 healthy lads, feeding them a morning meal of porridge and milk (how British!) two hours before embarking on a 60 minute cycling workout. They also attempted the same level of strenuous exercise after fasting overnight (one could say, perhaps, that they did not break the fast).

While the abstract of the study published in the American Journal of Physiology uses a lot of big science words, eating breakfast led to “increase[d] post-exercise postprandial plasma glucose disposal.” Postprandial, of course, is an unnecessarily fancy way of saying "lunch" that only appears in David Foster Wallace’s writing. In essence, instead of weighing us down with more carbs and calories, eating a solid breakfast before doing some cardio actually tricks the body into metabolizing more of them.

“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,” Ph.D student and study co-leader Rob Edinburgh told Forbes.

So let that be a lesson to you: Get something in your stomach before that early morning spin class. There’s no guarantee you won’t want to throw up, but it definitely means you can afford to skip your corporate salad for lunch in favor of something more self-indulgent.