Walking on an empty stomach provides a fat-burning advantage. Although this strategy may not suit everyone, it offers an advantage if you have difficulty losing weight. Exercising before breakfast, referred to as exercising in a fasted state, causes your body to use more fat for fuel. Check with your doctor about any medical concerns before you try walking on an empty stomach.
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Fasting Fat Burning
"Exercise after an overnight fast can significantly increase fat oxidation," researchers from the University of Ottawa concluded, based on a study of healthy young men.Increased fat oxidation -- use of fat -- by walking before breakfast can provide a needed boost for inactive people exercising to lose weight; seeing results helps you stay motivated and stick to a walking program. The increased feeling of fullness reported by British researchers led by Emma Stevenson suggest that walking on an empty stomach could help previously inactive overweight people reduce their food intake to help them lose weight successfully.
A low-glycemic breakfast prior to exercise increased fat-burning and a feeling of fullness in inactive women, Stevenson and colleagues reported in the May 2009 issue of the "Journal of Nutrition." Although the authors found that exercising in the fasting state burns more fat, a low-glycemic breakfast may be a more reasonable option for many people, and the researchers point out the importance of eating breakfast. Low-glycemic foods include yogurt, old-fashioned oatmeal or a meal based on protein and whole grains.
Burning More Fat
The breakdown of fat, or lipolysis, is decreased by the action of insulin, which is one reason walking before eating breakfast burns more fat. However, when the energy you expend walking is replaced by the calories you eat, this maintains your energy balance. Maintaining energy balance means that fat oxidation doesn't increase, researchers from the University of Colorado at Denver concluded. To achieve negative fat balance -- body fat reduction -- your fat burning from exercise needs to exceed your fat intake, the study authors say.
Eating breakfast helps with weight management. For some individuals, exercising without eating may result in shorter exercise sessions. Brisk, nonstop walking burns more calories than strolling. As you lose weight and improve your fitness, increasing the duration and intensity of your exercise sessions helps you to continue losing weight. Otherwise, as your body becomes more efficient, you use fewer calories, causing weight-loss to stall.