It’s no secret that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Breakfast is a critical meal because it influences how you perform physically and mentally. A good and healthy breakfast fuels you up and gets you ready for the day. Scientifically, kids and teens who eat breakfast regularly have more energy and do better in school. It’s considered an important meal because it breaks the overnight fasting period, replenished your supply of glucose while providing other essential nutrients to keep your energy levels up throughout the day. Apart from providing us with energy, breakfast foods are great sources of important nutrients such as calcium, iron and B vitamins as well as protein and fiber.
It’s true skipping your morning snack can lead to some unpleasant side effects. The key to starting your day off right is getting the right mix of carbohydrates and proteins. When it comes to your morning workout, that combination is even more crucial. Of course, exercising first thing in the morning is one of the best habits you can get into. When you wake up and jump on to your fitness regime it can help to speed up your metabolism, regulate your appetite and start your day off with a great accomplishment. However, what to eat before starting your day off can seem a bit confusing. Here are some tips to get the most out of your workout and stay energized for the rest of the day.
Why should you eat?
Some studies suggest working out on an empty stomach can cause your body to burn more fat during your workout, which sounds great right? Your body relies on glycogen to fuel your workouts and when glycogen levels are low, it relies on burning fat to fuel your workouts instead. This would be great if your body had just enough glycogen and fats to fuel your workouts, but, unfortunately, that is not the case. When you’re working out on an empty stomach, especially during tough cardio sessions, your body runs the risk of using muscle tissues rather than fat to fuel your morning workouts, which eventually starts to break down your existing muscles you worked so hard to build and could lead to weak workout performance.
When should you eat?
Eating before exercising is important to prevent low blood sugar, which can make you feel dizzy or lightheaded during and after your workout. Additionally, eating before your morning workout helps you maintain adequate energy stores in your body, especially early in the morning. Eating e meal 45 minutes before moderate-intensity exercise significantly enhances exercise capability. Typically it takes food about 45 minutes to digest so it’s advisable to eat small meal 45 minutes before you work out. Although that may seem like so early in the morning, eating before working out can increase your energy and allow you to work out with more intensity for longer periods of time.
What to eat?
By eating a small, well-rounded breakfast, you will get a quick and long-lasting energy boost, however, avoid eating food which are high in fat, because they take longer for your body to digest, keeping your body from performing at its optimal level. Eating a meal before an early morning workout can sound daunting to some, so work on keeping the meal small. When thinking about fuel for those more aggressive early morning workouts, small portions and simple carbs are best. For the typical 45-60 minute workout, your pre-workout snack should be at least about 200 calories. This will give you enough fuel to energize your workout but not much so your body feels sluggish because it is using so much energy digesting.
In general, the American Dietetic Association (ADA) recommends that you eat high-carbohydrate foods with moderate amounts of protein that can be easily digested. A pre-workout snack containing between 100-400 calories can fuel your exercise without making you feel full or slow you down. Adding a little protein is great but keep in mind that, because they are slower to digest, overdoing it can lead to cramps, or worse.
- Topping your whole wheat English muffin with egg whites is a great way to add protein to your morning meal. The combination creates a great pre-workout breakfast staple that boosts energy and properly fuels your body with nutrients. Eggs are packed with protein which ensures an ample supply of the amino acid building blocks the body needs to repair and build muscle tissue.
- If you’re concerned about weight gain or are trying to lose some extra calories, eat something on the light side of the calorie range, like a banana or a slice of toasted bread with a little peanut butter on top. Peanut butter isn’t just for kids. It’s a classic choice for breakfast meal and has remained popular for good reason – it’s easy and equally tasty for even the most discerning adult taste buds.
- Spoon your way to a leaner physique by eating the mix of cereal, yogurt and blueberries. Greek yogurt is an excellent source of protein. On average, it has 18g of protein, plus it is low in calories and lactose, making it easy to digest. Blueberries are high in fiber and antioxidants.
- A homemade smoothie made with yogurt or nut butter, almond milk, frozen fruit, such as a banana, cranberries, blueberries, strawberries, or mango would be great before hitting the gym. Berries are always a great fruit to add to smoothies because they are very high in antioxidants and a good source of fiber. Whipping up a smoothie for breakfast will further help you fuel your metabolism first thing in the morning.
- If you prefer a warm breakfast, scrambled eggs with lots of vegetables such as onion, garlic, pepper, mushroom, spinach, tomato, and jalapeno and herbs like basil, parsley, oregano, and chives. Eggs are high in protein and they are versatile. An egg scramble is a great way to use up whatever veggies you have on hand in a snap.
Drinking Before Exercise
After your workout, don’t forget to follow up with plenty of fluids followed by a more substantial breakfast afterward. Drinking enough fluid before and after exercise is equally important, especially first thing in the morning, as your body may be partially dehydrated from not having consumed any fluids throughout the night. Drink at least between 6-8 ounces before hitting the gym, if possible, and make sure you continue to drink water throughout your workout. This will keep you hydrated and prevent that bloated stomach feeling. If you’re on the lighter side of your pre-workout meal, choose a sports drink instead of water to support your energy needs.
That being said, what exactly should you eat before work out depends on the type of exercise you’re gearing up for. For example, less intense morning workouts, such as yoga classes, don’t call for quite as much food as other taxing routines. For workouts that fall in the middle of the exercise-intensity spectrum, you should fuel up with adequate amount of carbohydrates and proteins. On the other hand, if your workout is all about endurance, eating a minimum of 30g of carbohydrates per hour of exercise should do the trick. For muscle building, a larger pre-workout meal combined with a pre-workout protein shake can be very helpful.