Today’s post is written by one of ENC’s Health Professional Advisors, Dr. Jason Karp. Dr. Karp is a nationally recognized running coach, 2011 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year and owner of Run-Fit.com. He holds a Ph.D. in exercise physiology. He writes for international running, coaching, and fitness magazines, is the author of five books, including Running an Marathon for Dummies, and is a frequent speaker at national fitness and coaching conferences.
Every day when I get out of bed, I’m hungry. I can’t wait to eat breakfast. Although a recent study questions the research around breakfast consumption, it is still one of the most important meals to me as a runner and as a personal trainer who trains others to run at their full potential. Clients ask me all the time, “If I exercise first thing in the morning before I eat breakfast, will I burn more fat?” While it’s true that muscles are forced to rely on fat when blood glucose is low, as it is when you first get out of bed, exercising when blood glucose is low decreases exercise intensity, resulting in less calories burned. I do recommend that my clients eat before they run in the morning, so that they can have a more productive workout.
To wrap up National Better Breakfast Month, here are my tips on what to eat to help fuel your morning workouts:
- Eat 200 to 300 calories 1½ to 2 hours before exercise.
- Pre-workout meal should include carbohydrates and protein, like a half bagel with peanut butter. A hard-boiled egg is a great source of easily-digestible protein.
- If you exercise soon after getting out of bed and don’t have two hours before your workout, consume just 100 to 200 calories, like a nutrition bar, a banana, and a sports drink.
- Limit the fat content of your breakfast. Fat takes longer to digest, so the carbohydrates and protein in your meal take longer to be absorbed into your blood, where it’s used for energy.
- Avoid fiber. Fiber makes you go to the bathroom, which can make your workout very uncomfortable if you have no place to stop.