To Eat or Not to Eat: A Morning Tale

By Michael Simmer BS, CSCS, LMT, FST

Working as a morning coach, I hear this question all the time “do I really need to eat breakfast before my morning session?” To be fair this is one of those questions that come up due to the numerous theories, myths and ideas surrounding the base idea of working out first thing in the morning fasted will help burn fat faster. My best guess is this myth is formed around the idea that once you wake up and have not eaten anything since dinner your glycogen stores will be low, which means during your workout you will use fat as fuel to burn instead. I can see why people would think this idea works, it has been 8 – 12 hours since you last ate, your body still is actively working and using calories and no food is going in to provide more energy, so in this slowed metabolic fasted state body fat stores can be used in place of the glycogen. Then why not just stay fasted through the morning?

There is a adage that fat burns in a carbohydrate flame. Which is really saying that the body needs glucose (Carb Source) to lead the fat burning. With less than suitable glucose accessible to keep the body up and running correctly (like running a car on fumes), exercise intensity won’t be maximized, which in turn won’t maximize calories burned. Think about the term of an athlete hitting a “wall” usually when talking about an endurance athlete. They hit the proverbially wall not because they ran out of fat stores, but because they have a lack of glucose to keep their body running efficiently.

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So, the gist is this, if you do not eat before you exercise, you decrease your body’s capability to maximize fat burning. It would not just be due to a poor performance or because you could have worked a little harder, this is also because you will burn fewer calories throughout the entire day, by starting off in a slowed metabolic state. If you break the fast (get it? Break the fast, break fast, breakfast) before you go to your session, the body has the possibility to compete at a higher level, with enhanced muscle recovery and through the totality of the day you can burn more calories.

Think about this, most high-level performance athletes will consume their biggest meals before a training session, to ensure they have a full energy source to pull from during their workout, allowing a maxim training intensity, and the higher the training intensity, the higher their caloric burn will be through the end of the day.

It is important to note that I am not saying to just add meals for the sake of adding fuel for your body, you still need to stay within your caloric intake amounts for the day, if you have questions about what your daily values should be, you should reach out to the coaches and make a nutrition consult with Coach Megan. As more and more time and studies are being committed to fuel metabolism and how it all breaks down, one thing is becoming clear from the get go. Pre-and Post workout nutrition is vital to being successful, having proper meals and/or protein supplementation is what can make the difference in anyone’s exercise goals. So, please give your body fuel 20-45 minutes before your session, and then get ready to kick that morning’s as…phalt, yea asphalt because you’d be hitting the pavement running, that’s what I was going to say.

Can you benefit from a nutrition consult with Coach Megan?  Contact us today to make an appointment.