POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Aug 31, 2010
Ask 10 different experts in the fitness field about eating breakfast before a workout and you'll get 10 different answers. The confusion results from information overload and misinterpretation of research findings.
To answer this question effectively, many factors must be established -- namely, what your goals are and, most important, what your body demands. Depending on your digestive system and your efficiency in breaking down fat and glycogen stores, some people can tolerate a meal before an exercise session, while others cannot.
There are benefits to eating before exercising. Having a small meal 15 to 20 minutes before a session can prime the system to better unlock stored energy in the form of fat and glycogen. Several studies have proved that a high-fiber meal, which usually also indicates high-quality carbohydrates, consumed before exercise increases performance when compared with exercising on an empty stomach.
In other words, a small breakfast could give you the extra push you need to lift those last two reps, run just one more interval or complete a higher level on the Stairmaster. And, overall, your workout is more intense and often less fatiguing due to the extra energy available. Coupling this knowledge with the fact that higher-intensity workouts produce a longer period of post-exercise metabolic elevation, one can begin to see the advantages and implications toward a weight-loss goal.
If you participate in sports at any level, a high-energy breakfast translates into a high-energy performance during practice or game time. Bottom line: No matter what your goal is, breakfast is a good idea.
Here are some performance-boosting breakfast combinations: Coach's Oats with blueberries or a banana and skim milk; granola and cottage cheese or Greek yogurt topped with strawberries; a whole-grain bagel with low-fat cream cheese and cubed tomatoes and avocado.
All are high-fiber (slow-release carbs) choices mixed with fruit (quick-release carbs) and protein to preserve muscle.
A good on-the-go option is a whole-grain granola bar with a banana and cup of yogurt. Just be wary of any added high-fructose corn syrup, and keep portion control in mind.
Note: Tips based on a person who wants to lose 30 pounds, leads a sedentary lifestyle, has little exercise experience and is a yo-yo dieter. This person also has a full-time job that imposes time limitations. Consult a physician before starting any diet or fitness regimen.