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Holiday Fat Hack: How to Eat Like a Santa and Not Turn Into One

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You know you're going to swallow whole ham, 12 gingerbread cookies and six glasses of egg nog over the holidays. It's just going to happen. You could run 26 miles after the damage is done. But there's a better way.

A new study in the Journal of Physiology shows that exercising in the morning, before you eat anything at all, is the best way to skim off fat you'd otherwise put on by binging on crazy fatty over the next two weeks.


In the study, two exercise groups composed of "healthy, active men" ate roughly the same crappy diet and performed the same rigorous exercise routines (60-90 minutes), 4 days a week. So, same caloric intake, some caloric expenditure. One group exercised on an empty stomach in the morning, drinking only water while exercising. The other, ate a "hefty, carbohydrate-rich breakfast before exercising" and drank something like Gatorade during.

The group that gained almost no weight despite weeks of a bad diet? The one who exercised before breakfast. They burned fat more efficiently. Or as the study's authors put it, the study "indicates that exercise training in the fasted state is more effective than exercise in the carbohydrate-fed state to stimulate glucose tolerance despite a hypercaloric high-fat diet."


This is how I've always approached food and exercise. Looks like I guessed correctly! Check out the full report and the Times' writeup here: [Journal of Physiology via NYT] Image by Pascal/Flickr, used under CC license]

We believe the body is a gadget. Here's how to hack it.