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Preventing Diabetes and Heart Disease: Researchers uncover link between exercise timing and diabetes control

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According to researchers at the University of Bath, by changing the timing of when you eat and exercise, people can better control their blood sugar levels. The six-week study found that people who performed exercise before eating breakfast burned double the amount of fat than a group who exercised after breakfast.
This research was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism which involved thirty men classified as obese or overweight and compared results from two intervention groups. One group consisted of people who ate breakfast before/after exercise and a control group who made no lifestyle changes.
The study team discovered that persons who had fasted overnight can use more fat during exercise because their insulin levels are lower. This enables them to use more fat from their fat tissue and the fat in their muscles as fuel. As a result, their bodies responded better to insulin, keeping blood sugar levels under control and potentially lowering the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
According to the World Health Organization, in India, there are estimated 77 million people above the age of 18 years are suffering from diabetes (type 2) and nearly 25 million are prediabetics. A study in The Lancet from earlier this year found cardiovascular diseases to be the leading cause of death in India.
Professor Javier Gonzalez of the Department for Health at the University of Bath explained: “Our results suggest that changing the timing of when you eat in relation to when you exercise can bring about profound and positive changes to your overall health.”
“We found that the men in the study who exercised before breakfast burned double the amount of fat than the group who exercised after. Importantly, while this didn’t have any effect on weight loss, it did dramatically improve their overall health. The group who exercised before breakfast increased their ability to respond to insulin, which is all the more remarkable given that both exercise groups lost a similar amount of weight and both gained a similar amount of fitness. The only difference was the timing of the food intake.”
Over the six-week trial, the scientists found that the muscles from the group who exercised before breakfast were more responsive to insulin compared to the group who exercised after breakfast, in spite of identical training sessions and matched food intake. The muscles from those who exercised before breakfast also showed greater increases in key proteins, specifically those involved in transporting glucose from the bloodstream to the muscles.
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