That’s your alarm ringing. Time to leave your warm bed. You have limited time for a morning run and shower before work. Is it really necessary to eat breakfast before you hit the trail? And what about eating post-run?
What is today’s workout?
The type of workout is the main factor in deciding if you need something to eat before you start. When you wake up in the morning, your blood sugar is at its lowest due to overnight fasting. You may not have enough glycogen stored away to keep you fueled for the run. Therefore the size of your breakfast must vary depending on the length and intensity of the run.
Ideally, you should fuel your body about 1 to 3 hours pre-workout, depending on how your body tolerates food. However, runners know that eating anything too close to a run may impair performance and lead to GI discomfort. Besides, getting up an hour before a 6:45 a.m. run to give your body enough time to digest breakfast properly is not exactly practical!
If you are looking to burn fat or just going for an early morning shakeout or recovery run of 30-60 minutes, you may not require any pre-workout fuel. Research suggests that, for the average person, a relaxed-pace morning run without carbohydrates in the stomach will not limit performance. Additionally, eating carbohydrates will not enhance performance in this scenario. So, just enjoy your pre-workout coffee/caffeine!
For a run longer than an hour but at a relaxed pace, a small breakfast bar, a couple slices of toast, or a large banana may be enough to fuel you up. It’s best to get something small down as soon as you wake up, even before getting your workout clothes on, to give yourself maximum digestion time. However, if you’re planning a speed workout or a long run, wake up an hour early and have a small meal.
Try these options before a long run:
- Porridge topped with walnuts and blueberries
- Energy bar made with medjouls and nuts
- Banana and peanut butter
- Smoothie (fat-free Greek yogurt, fresh berries, almonds)
Post-Run Meal Tips
Your body uses stored glycogen in your muscles to power through your workout, but after that workout you need to replenish the nutrients lost. What to do? No matter the intensity or duration, your body will be screaming for replenishment post-run. As soon as possible post-workout, eat some carbs and protein for a better recovery.
Post-workout meal options include:
- Recovery smoothie (low-fat yogurt, watermelon/mango, ice)
- Low-fat chocolate milk
- Turkey with veggies in a whole-grain wrap
- Yogurt with berries
The above options offer mainly carbs with some protein and are convenient with the first two liquid options also helping to rehydrate the body.
Now put on your favorite playlist and enjoy your morning cardio!