I can’t tell you the number of times I have had this conversation: CLIENT: “I can’t do anymore this session.” ME: “What did you eat this morning?” CLIENT (any combination of the following): “Nothing”… "I didn’t have time”… "I don’t like to eat breakfast.”… "I’m on a diet, so I skip breakfast.”
It’s funny because regardless of the number of times you hear that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, people still think that skipping it is a good idea.
Here is the analogy I use: your gas tank indicator has been on “E” for a day or so … it did not just turn on … it’s been a while. Would you plan a 60-minute car ride without filling up the tank? A 30-minute car ride? That is what you are doing when you leave the house for a 30-minute or 60-minute workout without eating. You are asking your “car” to “drive” for that time on “E.”
During the night your body digests whatever is in your stomach, so by the time you wake up you are EMPTY. Being empty means that there is nothing from which your body can draw for energy to get through a workout. Another way of looking at it is that you will not be able to perform your best if you do not have the energy necessary to do so. Your time is not being used as efficiently as possible.
So what should you eat? I understand that not everyone likes to eat first thing in the morning, however, eating even a little something can make a big difference in your workout and the rest of your day. Have a banana, a piece of toast with peanut butter, or even just a glass of milk. If you are training for Running 4 Answers (www.running4answers.org) or another local event, do not try something new on race day. Test out how your stomach feels after eating different foods during training. You may need to vary what you eat or when you eat it to not have an upset stomach during the race.
I have a client who was just like the client at the beginning of this article. I spoke with her about the benefits of eating breakfast, both regarding exercise and weight control. She finally decided to give it a try. Her workouts have gotten significantly more productive. And, as a nice side benefit, she has lost 7 pounds.
The reason for the weight loss is that because she gave her body what it needs in the morning, she is not starving by lunch and overeating. Nor is she doing any “unhealthy snacking” later at night.
Don’t treat your car better than you would treat your own body. It’s not a lease to be returned in after 20,000 miles … you’ve bought this one!
Roseland resident Carolyn Mastrangelo, a personal trainer and avid runner, is co-director of Running 4 Answers. For more information, visit the website.