Exercising Fasting or Fed to Enhance Fat Loss? Influence of Food Intake on Respiratory Ratio and Excess Postexercise Oxygen Consumption After a Bout of Endurance Training

in International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism
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Exercise and nutrition are often used in combination to lose body fat and reduce weight. In this respect, exercise programs are as important as correct nutrition. Several issues are still controversial in this field, and among them there are contrasting reports on whether training in a fasting condition can enhance weight loss by stimulating lipolytic activity. The authors’ purpose was to verify differences in fat metabolism during training in fasting or feeding conditions. They compared the effect on oxygen consumption (VO2) and substrate utilization, estimated by the respiratory-exchange ratio (RER), in 8 healthy young men who performed the same moderate-intensity training session (36 min of cardiovascular training on treadmill at 65% maximum heart rate) in the morning in 2 tests in random sequence: FST test (fasting condition) without any food intake or FED test (feeding condition) after breakfast. In both cases, the same total amount and quality of food was assumed in the 24 hr after the training session. The breakfast, per se, increased both VO2 and RER significantly (4.21 vs. 3.74 and 0.96 vs. 0.84, respectively). Twelve hours after the training session, VO2 was still higher in the FED test, whereas RER was significantly lower in the FED test, indicating greater lipid utilization. The difference was still significant 24 hr after exercise. The authors conclude that when moderate endurance exercise is done to lose body fat, fasting before exercise does not enhance lipid utilization; rather, physical activity after a light meal is advisable.

Paoli, Marcolin, and Pacelli are with the Dept. of Human Anatomy and Physiology, and Paoli and Sivieri, the School of Human Movement Sciences, University of Padua, Italy. Zonin and Neri are with the Italian Fitness Federation and the Italian Association of Fitness and Medicine, Ravenna, Italy.

International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism