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Go empty for a healthy body

A recent study proves that a workout is most effective if you don’t snack before.

health and fitness Updated: Jun 06, 2010 16:20 IST

Exercising on an empty stomach may be good for male fitness, says a study conducted by the Massey University (MU). “Training is all about putting the body under stress, (on empty stomach) not going faster,” says Steve Stannard, associate professor at MU’s new School of Sport and Exercise, who led the study.

The researchers followed two groups of cyclists as they trained over four weeks. One group ate a carbohydrate breakfast before training, while the other group trained early in the morning on an empty stomach. The results showed that those riders who did their training before breakfast were ultimately able to store higher levels of muscle glycogen than those who ate breakfast. While the muscles of the male study participants who trained on an empty stomach showed an improved ability to burn fat, the female cyclists improved their muscle’s fat-burning capacity when they trained after breakfast rather than before.

“In an endurance event, such as road race cycling, the person who can start the race with the highest level of glycogen in their muscles, yet have the greatest ability to burn fat has a huge advantage,” Stannard says. “For men at least, training on an empty stomach encourages muscles to adapt in a more accelerated fashion than if training was done after eating a high carbohydrate meal.” As to why the female participants showed different results could be related to differences in fuel utilisation by muscles associated with the sex hormones.

First Published: Jun 06, 2010 14:43 IST