Skip Breakfast, Lose Weight?


Not exactly a scholarly publication, USA Today recently published a poorly written article by Maria Cheng of the Associated Press that was brought to the attention of our Eat2Win Sports Nutrition team by our own Bill Nadeau, MS, RD. The article highlights recent evidence (from a lab at the University of Birmingham that was supposedly published in the journal, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, from the American College of Sports Medicine) that demonstrates increased fat burning during exercise after an overnight fast (though we cannot comment specifically on the design of the experiment as so few details are given). However, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to locate the original report based on the information provided in Ms. Cheng’s article. The writer also erroneously suggests that “athletes like Lance Armstrong and Michael Phelps scarf down enormous amounts of food before a race”…clearly Ms. Cheng has never completed such a race.

The article does begin to redeem itself near its end with the following bit of commentary:

“”I think it’s actually a pretty bad idea,” said Dr. Alexis Chiang Colvin, a sports medicine expert at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York who has worked with professional football and hockey teams. “If your blood sugar is low, you could wind up getting dizzy and you might not be able to exercise as well as if you were well-nourished,” she said. Colvin recommended having something small like a banana before training. She also warned the strategy might make people more prone to injury and that eating was important so the body would have enough nutrients to recover from a bout of exercise.”

But, of course, it ends with advice from a sage personal trainer, “If you train on an empty stomach, you’ll see that six-pack a lot sooner.”

And what do you suppose will happen when said empty-stomach cyclists return from their morning workout? Do we have follow-up date on their energy consumption throughout the rest of the day? Did any of the 7 (a huge sample) lose weight during this “trial”?

It’s media like this that confuses and frustrates the general public and keeps our clients at who seek to lose weight and train for a triathlon coming back for our expertise and guidance.

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