Should I Eat Breakfast Before or After A Morning Run?
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But is it really for runners? Should we be eating breakfast before or after a morning run?
There are two types of runners: those who eat breakfast before they go for a run and those you don’t. Some feel like they need a little something to get their system going and to have that energy to power through the workout. Others find that anything besides some water leaves them queasy mid-run.
Determining which is better depends on the individual. Put simply, what works for one runner might not for others. However, there is some science to back which is best in general for athletes.
Fast Before Running Fast: The Pros Of Eating After The Run
Although some might worry there is no fuel in their tank to get through a run, runners might want to avoid eating breakfast until after their morning run. First of all, the body uses glucose stores from the dinner the night before. This is why it’s important to eat a healthy, well-balanced meal with a protein, carbs and lots of veggies the night before a planned run. And while long runs require some type of fuel mid-run like energy gels, chew, or “real” food, shorter distance runs don’t necessarily require needing anything before or during the run (besides maybe some water).
According to the study Training in the fasted state improves glucose tolerance during fat-rich diet, researchers found that training in a fasted state is best when it comes to burning fat. But the most interesting part of the of the six-week study found that participants benefited more from a workout before eating breakfast compared to those or ate breakfast before going to the gym.
While eating after going for a quick run still depends on preference and goals like weight loss, it might be best to do so only when going for a shorter distance run. Running 10 miles on an empty stomach might not be the best thing for performance. But for those quick runs, most should be able to still run fast and head on back for breakfast without a problem.
But First We Eat: The Pros of Eating Before The Run
Some runners feel like they need to eat before they run. And this feeling is valid when it comes to performance for some. Some runners need that extra fuel in the tank to be able to go the long run. In general, eating beforehand gives the runner the energy they need to run.
Keep in mind, we aren’t talking about a three-course meal. Instead, breakfast before a run should be simple and nutritious like almond butter on a piece of toast or a bowl of oatmeal with fruit. Other options include fruit, an energy bar or smoothie. Stay away from gassy and greasy foods.
It’s also important to eat 1-2 hours before the run. This gives the body enough time to digest the food so that doesn’t feel like it’s about to come back up as we start to sprint. What about those who don’t have time to eat? Those who rise and run and prefer to eat should snack on a banana or other piece of fruit with some water to get the system going and put a pause on that growling stomach.
Which Is Really Better?
We said it before and we’ll say it again when to eat when planning a run really varies based on the runner. Some with sensitive stomachs prefer to workout first and then have a wholesome meal after. Others need something in order to function and start their day. When to eat also depends on the distance running, the intensity of the run and overall health and weight loss goals.
For those who are sticklers for science and want to do what the research has proven, know that the jury is still out on which is really better. Researchers found no major difference in body composition or weight loss in those groups of those worked out before or after breakfast.
Further research suggests no performance limitations for the average runner going out at a relaxed pace for a short run before eating.
It is more important to replenish glucose sources after the run. This is when the runner should eat a meal rich in carbohydrates and include some protein to recover. The problem is that some runners are short on time after getting their early morning run in. They might not yet be hungry enough to eat yet or simply in a rush. But eating after is crucial. Have at least a piece of fruit or chocolate milk ready on hand to consume before hitting the shower. Then when ready get that more calorie-rich meal in.
A good tip is to try eating a small snack before a run to see how you feel. Then skip eating and see how the same distance run goes. Experiment to see what works best.
- Should I Workout at the Gym Before or After Breakfast? , Health Website, ,
- Breakfast Before or After a Workout?, Health Website, ,
- Training in the fasted state improves glucose tolerance during fat-rich diet, Health Journal, Jan 01, 1970 ,
- Effect of Overnight Fasted Exercise on Weight Loss and Body Composition: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, Health Journal, Mar 27, 2019 ,