Let Them Eat Cake! (and Ice Cream)

Well, this is good news for all of us who love the holiday goody-fests but not so much the enlarged love handles that often accompany such deliciousness: there is a way to eat a high-calorie, high-fat diet with minimal consequences. And you’ll never believe it, but it involves . . . (wait for it) . . . RUNNING! (Or cycling, or some other strenuous aerobic exercise.) Specifically, running first thing in the morning, before breakfast.

I could have told you that when I run in the morning, I often go before breakfast and have enjoyed that method for years now. It gets me out the door sooner and leads to a more productive, efficient, happier day. But I couldn’t have told you anything scientific about a pre-breakfast run. We have a group of scientists in Belgium to thank for this gem of information. They tested three groups of men, feeding all of them a really heavy, fat- and calorie- dense diet. One group did not exercise, one group exercised after breakfast, and one group exercised before breakfast. Only the ones who waited to eat until after exercising did not gain much weight or show other negative effects from their diet, including increased insulin resistance and fat marbling in their muscles, which are conditions that could lead to diabetes.

According to the study’s authors, “Our current data indicate that exercise training in the fasted state is more effective than exercise in the carbohydrate-fed state to stimulate glucose tolerance despite a hypercaloric high-fat diet.”  Um, yeah. You can read the whole article here.

Of course, if you want to take advantage of this information, you actually have to get out of your warm bed and gear up for the cold. And then you’ve got to leave your house, sometimes when it is just barely getting light. This is not something I’ve been very good at lately. Sigh. (It doesn’t help that the earliest we’ve gotten to bed this week is 12:30.) However, this is just the kind of motivation I need to make it happen. Not that I eat a terribly high- calorie and fat diet; it just makes me feel better about myself to start the day off with a run. The fact that it may just take care of the cookies I so enjoy is just icing on the cake. So to speak.

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  1. Oh, I love this study. I too am a pre-breakfast runner and love how it can set the tone for the whole day. And your pictures made me so motivated to get going on the holiday baking. Lizzie, since I just gave birth, I would love to hear more about your return to running after the birth of each child (though knowing you, you probably went running the next day). Perhaps an idea for a future blog post?


    lizzie Reply:

    I’ll get right on that and have a post up next week. Thanks for the idea . . . if you have anything else you’d like me to write about, let me know.


  2. How bout how you had the motivation to keep running DURING your pregnancies, too? I have not been successful. But, I was a pre-breakfast runner before!


  3. It’s so crazy that you posted this. Before I read your post my roommate and I had a good talk about the study they had just read about working out before eating. I’m sure it was the same article.


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