A question about when to eat breakfast

This is a question I received from a mom from SparkPeople.com:

She wrote: “The best time for me to exercise is first thing in the morning. If I don’t do it then I probably won’t do it. I don’t like to eat anything until I’ve been up a couple of hours so I work out on an empty stomach and then don’t eat anything until about an hour or so after my workout. What are your thoughts on this?”

I responded with: “Well, let’s do the math: Say you eat dinner at 7pm, then eventually go to sleep and wake up at 6am. Let’s say you finally workout at 10am, then eat something afterward at 11am.

So, your body has not had any new food in it since 7pm the night before, meaning you have not eaten in 16 hours. Two things have happened: One, your body has shut down your fat burning mechanism (your metabolism) and two, has figured out a way to survive during the perceived famine.

So, now its 10am and you are working out with the least amount of energy your body can stand. Are you burning fat? Nope. Research has showed the body attacks the muscles first if no carbohydrates are available. Plus, with no energy, how can you possibly last very long at an intensity high enough for you to burn excess fat?

When you go to Vegas, you put gas in the tank before you leave, not after you arrive. Your workouts will be more effective if you are properly hydrated and have food in your tank to give you enough energy to burn excess fat.” 

Now let’s go and sweat it out!

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As a Leadership Coach at IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL, James Leath teaches athletes from the professional ranks all the way down to elementary school about character and leadership of self, team, coaches and critics. His widely read blog at jamesleath.com is a top resource that educates athletes, coaches, and parents in sport psychology and personal development. James is currently finishing a graduate degree in Performance Psychology.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. Remember, there are many ways to motivate athletes to perform well.

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