Food is fuel, at every time of day.

No matter what time of day, we do need food to fuel us. Whether your goals are achieving optimal performance, weight loss, muscle building, energizing your life – prioritize food as much as you would your workout, training session, or even competition/race.

Ashley Charlebois - DietitianEarly morning workouts in particular seem to pose an extra challenge. I often hear clients and friends say they don’t eat breakfast before a morning workout. I’ve heard every excuse in the book. Too tired to get up even 15 minutes earlier to eat, not hungry, food makes me nauseous if I eat too early, trying to lose weight so don’t need the extra energy, or simply just unaware that it was important.

First, breakfast is ALWAYS important. It kick starts your metabolism, similar to warming up your car on a cold day. This means you will boost your energy level first thing in the morning rather than waiting an hour or more. A side benefit to this is your body will start burning more calories at rest sooner – which can be beneficial for weight loss or maintenance.  Breakfast before a morning workout is especially important as you need fuel for your empty tank (or body!). Yes, you will have some energy without putting any food in you beforehand. However – because you haven’t eaten anything for the past 7-12 hours this energy will come from your body breaking down internal stores of fat and muscle. This in turn will leave you feeling fatigued, and result in a decrease in strength and endurance. Making it much more difficult for you to achieve your goals.

So… lets get back to those excuses:

  •  Too tired to get up even 15 minutes earlier to eat?
              Those extra 15 minutes will go a long way. Do yourself a favour and go to bed 15 minutes earlier the night before so that you   can wake up a little earlier and give your body what it needs for optimal fuel and an optimal workout.
  • Not hungry?
             It’s likely because your body isn’t used to eating at such an early time of day. You need to train yourself to eat something in the morning, just as you train yourself during a workout.
  • Food makes you nauseous if you eat too early? Ashley Charlebois - Dietitian
             Same as above – your body just isn’t used to anything in the stomach at this hour. Start simple and work your way up – a glass filled with half juice and half water, progress to a full glass of juice, next you can try introducing a fruit, then a fruit and yogurt, then maybe a small bowl of cereal.
  •  Trying to lose weight so don’t think you need the extra energy?
              You will get a better workout if you do eat something beforehand – meaning you will burn more calories bringing you one step closer to your goals. Also, you want to target fat loss, not muscle mass. Building or at least maintaining lean muscle mass is essential when trying to lose body fat as muscle burns more calories at rest than fat. So the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism will be, and the more calories you will burn at rest.
  • Unaware breakfast was that important?
             Now you know! Pass the message on!

For more tips on how to properly fuel up before, during and after a workout – see this article I contributed to that was recently published in The Vancouver Sun.


One Reply to “Food is fuel, at every time of day.”

  1. Hi Ashley, thanks for the tips.  I love it how eating can actually help you burn more calories by boosting metabolism.  A Win-Win!

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