Early risers who exercise first thing are more likely to stick to their healthy habit. When you hit the gym right around sun-up, the business of the day hasn't really started, so your workout plans are less likely to be interrupted.
However, you may fear eating breakfast before exercise and hitting the gym after eating will leave you sluggish or impede fat burning, but a breakfast snack before you train can help you perform at your best.
Fat Burning Boost?
Some trainers and exercise enthusiasts swear you'll become leaner if you forgo the morning meal prior to training, but science is divided on this issue. The American Council on Exercise does claim that while you sleep your carbohydrate levels will become lower, so when you exercise before breakfast, your body will be relying on your stored fat for fuel.
While it is more advantageous for you to know how your body reacts to the whole day of eating, working, playing and exercising, working out in the morning before breakfast may be a good start to a weight-loss goal.
Eat for Energy
Without having breakfast first, your exercise performance may lack zing according to Mayo Clinic. You'll end up burning fewer calories overall, because you just don't have the energy to put into your workout.
However, you don't have to have a buffet-worthy meal prior to exercising to give yourself an energy boost — half of an energy bar, a small container of yogurt or even a simple banana may be enough of a breakfast boost to keep you going.
After your workout, consume a larger meal such as an egg white omelet with whole-grain toast, a fruit smoothie with yogurt, a bowl of oatmeal with dates and walnuts, or a whey protein shake with fruit and no added sugar. A combination of protein and carbohydrates will assist muscle repair and restore glycogen, or energy, stores in your muscles.
You'll Still Burn Calories
A small breakfast prior to your workout will not compromise any weight-loss efforts. One meal is not going to make or break your efforts. Count the breakfast you eat prior to your workout as part of your total daily calorie intake so you stay equal to or below what you burn all day.
This will ensure maintenance or weight loss. You may even find that your hunger is curbed for the rest of the day by eating before your morning exercises.
Keep This in Mind
Some people prefer not to consume anything before a morning workout, because it causes nausea or discomfort. If your morning exercises are short, lasting just 20 to 30 minutes, and are mild or moderate in intensity, you can probably get away with not eating breakfast first.
The American Council on Exercise suggests that when you plan to go longer than 60 minutes, you will set yourself up for workout success with some food in your system. If solid breakfast foods are too much, take a few sips of a sports drink or a whey protein smoothie, which may be easier to digest.
- American Council on Exercise: "Does Fasted Cardio Provide Significant Benefits?"
- Mayo Clinic: "Eating and Exercise: 5 Tips to Maximize Your Workouts"
- American Council on Exercise: "Meal Timing: What and When to Eat for Performance and Recovery"
- Cleveland Clinic: "The Best Ways to Fuel Your Workouts Might Surprise You"