kitchen table math, the sequel: the answer to all our problems

Monday, January 2, 2012

the answer to all our problems

exercise before breakfast:
The experiment lasted for six weeks. At the end, the nonexercising group was, to no one’s surprise, super-sized, having packed on an average of more than six pounds. They had also developed insulin resistance — their muscles were no longer responding well to insulin and weren’t pulling sugar (or, more technically, glucose) out of the bloodstream efficiently — and they had begun storing extra fat within and between their muscle cells. Both insulin resistance and fat-marbled muscles are metabolically unhealthy conditions that can be precursors of diabetes.

The men who ate breakfast before exercising gained weight, too, although only about half as much as the control group. Like those sedentary big eaters, however, they had become more insulin-resistant and were storing a greater amount of fat in their muscles.

Only the group that exercised before breakfast gained almost no weight and showed no signs of insulin resistance. They also burned the fat they were taking in more efficiently. “Our current data,” the study’s authors wrote, “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.”
Phys Ed: The Benefits of Exercising Before Breakfast
December 15, 2010, 12:01 AM
This year's New Year's Resolution.


Jean said...

Hey, I'm doing it right! My friend and I walk a few miles most mornings before breakfast. I'm so used to it now that if I don't walk, I can barely eat breakfast at all.

Catherine Johnson said...

Are you guys skinny!?

Catherine Johnson said...

I'm amazed by the findings on insulin resistance.

That's my focus: NOT developing diabetes.

TerriW said...


I've lost 65 lbs now (about 40 of those in the last 12 months, the first batch slowly over a few years prior), and what worked for me was ditching "regular" exercise (walks, treadmill jogs, etc). Okay, maybe not ditching *completely,* but thinking of it as a bonus, not my "real" exercise for the day. My "real" exercise now consists of high intensity, short duration cardio intervals interleaved with high weight strength training on opposite days.

I had to start looking at strength training resources geared towards men because most of the stuff geared towards women (save for a few, like the New Rules of Lifting) were not useful for my purposes. Cardio Strength Training by Robert Dos Remedios was more up my alley. (I'm happy to pass along more specific info, if anyone is interested.)

Also, foodwise, I said goodbye to bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, corn, and peas. And most sugar. I wouldn't say I'm "low carb" because I actually eat tons of carbs, they're just pretty much all apples and carrots, etc. But it's pretty much all lean meats, eggs, lowfat dairy/cheese, fruits and non-starchy veggies.

Of course, now I'm on to the maintenance phase, and it's actually harder in many ways than everything but the first couple of weeks of the losing phase.

On the other hand, it's better than the alternative. (As is often said: Losing weight is hard. Being fat is hard. Choose your hard.)

Crimson Wife said...

I cannot exercise on a completely empty stomach because it makes me hypoglycemic. I passed out on a StairMaster once in college and that was scary!

I also cannot do a super-low-carb diet like Atkins because it gives me "brain fog". I do best on a moderate carb diet like South Beach.

Jean said...

I am not skinny, but my friend has a lovely slim figure. Probably if I ate less sugar it would help. :)

Jean said...

Come to think of it you can see my picture right here. -->

MagisterGreen said...

Funny this should come up...

My brother turned me onto this. He didn't so much lose weight as he got really, really cut and gained a lot of muscle. For my part I've dropped 20 pounds or so in the last year and added muscle as well. The basics are simple enough: high protein diet, low carbs (but not no carbs, and not low all the time), and exercise *before* you eat. Intermittent fasting. I've come to love it and live by it.

Fair warning: the site's author can be a little blunt at times, but his ideas are based on science as well as personal experience.

kcab said...

Hey, that's great news! I've done this for most of my life. Usually I've rolled out of bed and gone directly to the pool. There's no way I can eat before a 5:30 am workout, not and keep it down, so food comes later.

This year I have to stick around to manage getting people on the bus so I have a coffee before workout. Maybe I should stop that...

I'm not skinny, but I am fit and a lot thinner than most of my family.

Catherine Johnson said...

I passed out on a StairMaster once in college and that was scary!


I'm just doing .... maybe 10 minutes of exercise, on grounds that something is better than nothing. I take the dogs and run down the hill and back. (It's a LONG hill...)

I've also rediscovered the jump rope, thanks to Chris.

Remember jump ropes!?

Catherine Johnson said...


Love it!

Catherine Johnson said...

My "real" exercise now consists of high intensity, short duration cardio intervals interleaved with high weight strength training on opposite days.

So glad to hear this!

I read the research on interval training a little while back, and it made perfect sense.

Here's the article:

June 24, 2009, 12:26 PM
Can You Get Fit in Six Minutes a Week?

from the article:

In one of the group’s recent studies, Gibala and his colleagues had a group of college students, who were healthy but not athletes, ride a stationary bike at a sustainable pace for between 90 and 120 minutes. Another set of students grunted through a series of short, strenuous intervals: 20 to 30 seconds of cycling at the highest intensity the riders could stand. After resting for four minutes, the students pedaled hard again for another 20 to 30 seconds, repeating the cycle four to six times (depending on how much each person could stand), “for a total of two to three minutes of very intense exercise per training session,” Gibala says.

Each of the two groups exercised three times a week. After two weeks, both groups showed almost identical increases in their endurance (as measured in a stationary bicycle time trial), even though the one group had exercised for six to nine minutes per week, and the other about five hours. Additionally, molecular changes that signal increased fitness were evident equally in both groups. “The number and size of the mitochondria within the muscles” of the students had increased significantly, Gibala says, a change that, before this work, had been associated almost exclusively with prolonged endurance training.

Catherine Johnson said...

Magister Green - congratulations!

(How does one do intermittent fasting?)

TerriW said...

After several months of intense HiiT training, I went to the doctor for the first time since I started losing weight.

He took his little stethoscope and put it on my back and stayed there for a very, very long time. Long enough that I started getting worried.

Then he said, "You have an unusually low heart rate."

Not exactly Lance Armstrong territory, but my resting heart rate is now around 52. That's all from HiiT. My sessions last 20 minutes or so, and about half of that is rest time. (Of course, my "rest" heart rate means that I came down to 130-140 from my intensity periods of 165-170.)

lgm said...

I found that biking 10 miles, 8-10 mph, made me not hungry at all for the next meal. Walking for an hour does not have that effect.

I do best on high protein, low carb, no sugar, minimal processed, and sufficient water intake.

Be sure and add your Vitamin D if you are in the latitude where winter sun isn't sufficient. There is a lot of correlation of lack of Vit. D with breast cancer.