Q: I recently read it’s better to exercise before eating breakfast to lose weight. But surely you need breakfast first, otherwise you’re literally running on empty?
Exercising on an empty stomach first thing in the morning may encourage our bodies to burn slightly more fat for fuel. For example, a recent study found adults burned more calories when they exercised before breakfast than after it. But as it was only a small study, involving 10 men, it’s difficult to draw firm conclusions. On the downside, exercising when your tank is empty means you may tire earlier and work less hard, so you actually burn fewer calories and put yourself at risk of injury.
If you do exercise first thing, I suggest you have a small carb-based snack, such as a banana, a handful of dried fruit, a smoothie, a cereal bar, low-fat yogurt, or a slice of fruit loaf, leaving as much time as possible between eating it and exercising. Then, within 30 minutes of finishing, have a more substantial, carb-based breakfast, such as porridge with berries and nuts, wholegrain cereal with fruit and semi-skimmed milk or scrambled egg on wholegrain toast with a small glass of OJ. Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after your workout, too.