The Importance of Eating in the Morning
There are rumors that exercising hard first thing in the morning on an empty stomach burns more fat. But these rumors are not true! Exercising in this state actually impairs your endurance performance and total fat loss by 20-25%.
After fasting all night your body’s glycogen (stored form of carbs) levels are low – about 70% depleted. Since you don’t have much glycogen, it would seem that your body would turn to stored fat for energy. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. Fat cannot be broken down quickly enough to be used for high endurance exercise.
Your body also has low levels of pyruvate after fasting and this inhibits fat oxidation. Most importantly, in the absence of glucose, your body will start breaking down muscle proteins for fuel. The muscle you’ve worked so hard to build up is broken down into amino acids so it can be converted into glucose.
What should you ingest before exercise? A 100-200 calorie snack (containing carbs and some protein) about 30 minutes before your workout is ideal:
Examples of pre workout snacks:
• Protein drink with 1 scoop protein powder and 1/2 banana
• Fat Free Greek Yogurt
• 4 whole grain crackers with 1/4 cup cottage cheese
• Apple with 1 Tbsp peanut butter
• Half sandwich (i.e. bread, turkey, lettuce, tomato)
• Protein bar (equivalent of 100 calories so may need to eat just half)
If you are not exercising in the morning, but rather at lunchtime or after work, have a small snack before your workout if it has been more than 3 hours since your last meal. Again, a 100-200 calorie snack should be plenty to get you through that workout.
Fuel yourself properly before you exercise and your body will benefit!