Conventional wisdom says a healthy breakfast is critical to an effective morning workout. But a new study published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport begs to differ. Researchers from New Zealand’s Massey University divided 14 novice cyclists into two groups and, over a four-week period, had one group eat carbohydrate-rich breakfasts before 75-minute, moderate-intensity morning bike rides. The other group trained on an empty stomach. When the four weeks were up, the group that didn’t eat stored higher levels of muscle glycogen (which would increase their endurance) while exhibiting greater fat-burning and oxygen-using ability.
Researchers theorize that stressing the body induces faster adaptation and improved performance, but they caution that if you’re participating in a longer exercise session or race, carbs are in fact key. For shorter cardio workouts, though, it appears conventional wisdom is about as relevant as hot-pink bike shorts.