Exercise Increases 24-h Fat Oxidation Only When It Is Performed Before Breakfast

EBioMedicine. 2015 Oct 30;2(12):2003-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2015.10.029. eCollection 2015 Dec.


Background: As part of the growing lifestyle diversity in modern society, there is wide variation in the time of day individuals choose to exercise. Recent surveys in the US and Japan have reported that on weekdays, more people exercise in the evening, with fewer individuals exercising in the morning or afternoon. Exercise performed in the post-prandial state has little effect on accumulated fat oxidation over 24 h (24-h fat oxidation) when energy intake is matched to energy expenditure (energy-balanced condition). The present study explored the possibility that exercise increases 24-h fat oxidation only when performed in a post-absorptive state, i.e. before breakfast.

Methods: Indirect calorimetry using a metabolic chamber was performed in 10 young, non-obese men over 24 h. Subjects remained sedentary (control) or performed 60-min exercise before breakfast (morning), after lunch (afternoon), or after dinner (evening) at 50% of VO2max. All trials were designed to be energy balanced over 24 h. Time course of energy and substrate balance relative to the start of calorimetry were estimated from the differences between input (meal consumption) and output (oxidation).

Findings: Fat oxidation over 24 h was increased only when exercise was performed before breakfast (control, 456 ± 61; morning, 717 ± 64; afternoon, 446 ± 57; and evening, 432 ± 44 kcal/day). Fat oxidation over 24 h was negatively correlated with the magnitude of the transient deficit in energy and carbohydrate.

Interpretation: Under energy-balanced conditions, 24-h fat oxidation was increased by exercise only when performed before breakfast. Transient carbohydrate deficits, i.e., glycogen depletion, observed after morning exercise may have contributed to increased 24-h fat oxidation.

Keywords: 24 h fat oxidation; Energy balance; Metabolic chamber; Transient energy deficits.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breakfast*
  • Dietary Fats / metabolism*
  • Energy Intake
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Male
  • Oxidation-Reduction*
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Dietary Fats