General Question

monsoon's avatar

Would eating breakfast before I exercise in the morning be more healthy, or vice versa?

Asked by monsoon (2485 points ) July 22nd, 2009

Just wondering. I usually wake up pretty hungry. I don’t entirely enjoy eating breakfast, but I generally do eat after I exercise (running, etc.). So I’m wondering if there’s a certain order that will make my exercising more effective. Or if it doesn’t matter, that counts too.

Thanks!

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34 Answers

knitfroggy's avatar

I’m glad someone asked this…I’m interested to see what people say. I’ve been wondering the same thing. I’ve usually been eating a little something before I go to the Y and then I’m starved when I get done.

Capt_Bloth's avatar

Personally, I wake up and eat oatmeal or 7-grain cereal and a banana. After that I wait about half an hour and then work out. I find that eating a breakfast full of carbs before I exercise gives me much more energy

AstroChuck's avatar

You should have something on your stomach anytime you exercise. It’s important to not have too low a blood sugar level. Food = fuel. You wouldn’t drive your car without gas, right?

funkdaddy's avatar

I think this one really comes down to what works for you. When I used to run every morning, I couldn’t eat much before hand without feeling “heavy” in the belly and being more likely to throw up. So I would usually just drink some juice and go.

If I try to lift weights (especially legs) on an empty stomach, I see stars and feel light headed almost immediately, so I always make sure to get something substantially in me before doing so.

For sports I feel best if I eat a couple hours before. Talking to other folks, they have their own routines that work best for them. The only consistent thing seems to be no ones eats a huge meal just before exercise, it just doesn’t seem to end well.

dynamicduo's avatar

I have been told by my (occasional) trainer, with who I train at 6am, that it is important to have something small in your stomach that will last throughout the workout. Such as a banana. Things like bagels and other massive carbs often get burned quickly so you may end up hungry at the end of the workout, they are not ideal but if that’s the only thing you have it’s better than nothing. I get chastised when I do not eat anything for breakfast when doing exercise that morning.

In my experience it is not advisable to exercise with a stomach full of food simply cause it’s uncomfortable and you stand the risk of irritating it enough to make it want to empty itself.

At the same time, I can occasionally get by without having a breakfast, though I tend to crash right afterwords unless I get some food in me.

aprilsimnel's avatar

A banana, eh? Sounds good. Because usually, I feel uncomfortable with eating before I run in the mornings, but I start to flag at lap 7. A banana 20 minutes before would probably do the trick.

Darwin's avatar

I vote for a small protein shake before morning exercise. I drink it and then by the time I get to the gym it is no longer sloshing around in my stomach, so I am good to go.

I then eat something fairly light but with carbs, protein and fiber after I work out, too, essentailly consuming 5 small meals each day.

robmandu's avatar

It’s not uncommon for me to hit a 2 hour cardio-heavy workout first thing in the morning. I don’t usually allow time to eat/wait since I’ve got to get to work.

Still, you guys are motivating me to try anyway.

I’m mostly worried about long runs with food on my stomach… I find I get side stitches really easy that way. So, I’ll probably start with a very small portion – say, half a banana – and see how it goes.

Sarcasm's avatar

I’d expect having some substance in your body would be a lot better. Even if it is (just renaming things already mentioned) a fruit or granola bar. I wouldn’t say eat a huge breakfast with sausage and eggs and pancakes, but something.

Alleycat8782's avatar

I agree with @AstroChuck you should have a little something to eat before you work out. It helps boost your energy. It could be a piece of fruit or even one of those 100 calorie packs. Then I wait maybe 20 minutes to avoid cramping up.

LC_Beta's avatar

I do a five-mile bike ride most mornings, and I feel sick if I eat anything beforehand. I usually eat about half an hour after I’m done. It’s just what works for me.

ubersiren's avatar

If I didn’t eat something before working out, I’d pass out.

swuesquire's avatar

I think funk daddy has it exactly right. I’ve never been able to exercise after eating, though I’ve tried thinking that this was the “right” way to do it. Now I do exercising and then eating afterwards.

On the other hand, I’ve known people who cannot possible exercise unless they have something light in their stomach. You really have to experiment and see what works for you (different metabolisms and rhythms and whatnot).

rooeytoo's avatar

I get terrible heartburn if I eat and then exercise. That is why I run just before lunchtime. It is always hot but my breakfast has had time to settle and I am usually starting to feel a little bit hungry again.

It would seem to make sense to eat something first if you go out in the morning, but I can’t do it.

lifeflame's avatar

Fruit is good.
Also, I sense that the first thing I put in my body in the morning to wake up my system is going to be important. So I wouldn’t do coffee or anything really sugary first thing.

cyndyh's avatar

Sometimes I just can’t manage to have anything before a long swim, and other times I can manage something like a small yogurt. Anything more than that and I’d be burping out when I should be breathing in and the workout isn’t so great. It can be uncomfortable. I usually have enough energy to manage the workout before the small breakfast.

FrancisRude's avatar

I usually have an oatmeal, then wait for an hour or two. I also have some protein shake for a pre-work out drink and a little bread. Just to give me some energy.. :) Happy work out

nebule's avatar

I don’t know… I asked a similar question somewhere..it might have been on here…it might have been on facebook…not sure… but I was told that if you want to burn fat and that’s the main purpose you should exercise before you do anything in the morning and that includes eating! So I do this and I generally feel completely energy-less but keep soldiering on in the name of fat-burning!

monsoon's avatar

@lynneblundell I saw you in the “What makes you happy” thread! Yeah, some time’s the more I exercise I do the less energy I have, when it seems like the opposite is supposed to be true.

Link's avatar

I take a big shake in the morning made out of bananas, strawberries, blueberries, oatmeal, and protein powder. I wait two or three hours, and then work out. It sucks to work out on an empty stomach because you won’t have energy, and it sucks to work out on a full stomach because then you’ll feel like throwing up. If I have to work out right away, I’ll take a banana and a Powerade and just go.

Darwin's avatar

And I was told that to burn fat you need to kickstart your metabolism in the morning with a bit of food. It will rev it up for several hours, long after you have used up those calories.

monsoon's avatar

Okay, so yesterday I ate a banana about twenty minutes before jogging, and I felt great afterwards, and was able to jog a bit farther than I’m usually able to! Now, maybe it was a placebo effect because I’d been hoping this would happen, but I really felt good after exercising.

nebule's avatar

@monsoon but are you then burning the fat or just the banana?? it’s a tricky one!

monsoon's avatar

I think normal going to work/walking around/existing for a few hours would burn the banana on it’s own, so then the running becomes extra.

nebule's avatar

yes…I agree x

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FrancisRude's avatar

i start my day off with a banana protein shake, blenders are the best.. Then watch some news, read e-mail, all that stuff, then head for my work out..

Or eat oatmeal, wait for an hour or two, then work out.. Just some energy to get you going.. Eating revs up your metabolism, that’s why they suggest to eat constantly in small portions.

Pandora's avatar

I was always told that you should eat something at least an hour before but something light like a fruit, not a big meal. Fruit helps to provide your muscles with glucose it needs to burn. You can also do carbs but light on the carbs.
However I just recently read a new study found that the most effecient work outs are done in late afternoon to early evening because, most people get there biggest burst of energy during that part of the day. The say the best time to work out is the time of day you are most alert and energetic. They found people burned more calories and got a more efficent work out for their muscles during this time.

Just_Justine's avatar

Drink fruit juice, because when you haven’t eaten you are in the fat burn zone. Or so I was told. But the fruit juice gives you the ability to work out with out becoming dizzy or weak.

tamkli3's avatar

what i normally do if it’s really early in the morning and I can’t really see past 3 feet in front of me because i’m so tired is i eat a fruit or something a little bit before working out when i get up and then i work out… and after working out i actually eat a proper breakfast because you’re metabolism is working a lot faster after your work out and that will help your digest your food.

gondwanalon's avatar

We are all different. Experiment a little and see what works for you. By far the most ideal thing to eat just before a vigorous workout is NOTHING at all. Especially if the type of exercise that you are doing is running 7 minutes a mile or faster. If you are hungry before a workout then slam gown a 16 ounce glass of water then HIT IT! If you are “running” (jogging) much slower, then you can get away with nibbling on a Power Bar, plain dry toast with no butter or some energy jell. If you will be running/jogging less than 10 miles then you will have ample energy stores on board to manage a great workout without eating anything. Stay clear of sugary snack foods. I’ve been running and jogging consistently since 1983. My exercise journal shows that I’ve jogged an equivalent to over 2 times around the Earth at the equator and nearly 3 miles per day for every day of the 59½ years that I’ve been alive. I’ve done a lot of real running also as my marathon PR is 2:36:10 and my 10K PR is 33:08. For my fastest races and workouts I ate nothing before or during the event. Good training to you…HIT IT!!!

bane5454's avatar

I don’t know if it’d be healthier or not but if the meal is too big, you may cramp and that’s never fun…

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