Exercise is recommended for people who are overweight or obese as a way to reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. But people don’t always have time to exercise as much as they would like, so finding ways to increase the health benefits of exercise is important.
The latest research has found a way to do just that, and it’s to do with timing. This means you might be able to get away with doing less exercise if other commitments, such as family and work, always seem to get in the way.
To explain how this works, it helps to know a bit about insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps control blood sugar levels. One of the main effects of insulin after a meal is to allow sugar in the blood to be transported into muscle, where it can then be stored or used as a fuel for energy.
One of the main health benefits of exercise is that it improves our response to insulin and we can better control our blood sugar levels – even if we don’t see this change happening. It is now becoming clear that when we eat in relation to exercise could be important for this insulin response.
But don’t expect to lose more weight
A common misconception about exercise in the fasted state is that the increased fat burning will lead to increased weight loss. But for weight loss, the important factor is energy balance. This is the amount of energy eaten as food and drinks minus the amount of energy that is expended by the body, partly through exercise.
There is some evidence, that, over a short period (24 hours), skipping breakfast altogether and doing exercise may create a more negative energy balance, compared with eating breakfast and doing the same exercise.
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