As a fitness enthusiast, and a national figure athlete, my diet changes throughout the year to accommodate my training and lifestyle requirements. One of the meals that changes often is my first meal of the day—breakfast. Most fitness and nutrition experts agree that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. One of the reasons that they rally the importance of breakfast is because our first meal—breakfast often determines the pattern of our eating cycle and our mood throughout the day. For example, if you eat a heavy carbohydrate meal, such as pancakes and syrup you’re more than likely going to feel lethargic after an hour or so. After the lethargy has passed you’ll feel moody and sluggish because of the sugar crash. After the crash is over your body will crave more sugar, and the cycle continues.
In conjunction to influencing our eating pattern throughout the day, breakfast is also responsible for our energy levels for optimizing our morning workouts as well as our energy levels, at work/on our jobs. So imagine trying to run on a stomach full of pancakes and syrup—no fun! Imagine trying to think clearly at work with your blood sugar levels blazing through the roof! Good luck!
What works for me and most of my clients is the Eat Light approach to breakfast. I get my best work done intellectually and physically with less food on my stomach. During competition season and when I want to lean out I normally don’t eat breakfast at all before I work out. For me a cup of coffee is all I need to get through 60 minutes of cardio AND sometimes a really great weight training session. After my workout though, my body is ready for nutrients such as protein, and carbohydrates. I also find that my clients do well with less food in the mornings as well, provided that they do not have a health issue that requires blood sugar moderations. Exercising with a full stomach can cause nausea. As a rule of thumb, if you have to eat breakfast in the mornings give yourself 60-90 minutes to allow your food to fully digest before you workout.
So the breakfast dilemma continues. What do I eat and do I have to eat breakfast in the morning?
Let’s start with what to eat. My general rule for breakfast is keep it light especially if you are planning to workout 60 minutes after waking.
Examples of light breakfast:
1. cup of coffee with fat such as coconut oil
2. protein shake and branch chain supplement
3. cup of yogurt with fruit
4. handful of nuts
5. greens smoothie/shake
6. cup of hot cereal
7. eggs or egg whites
Now, do you have to eat breakfast in the morning? No you don’t. If you’re not hungry in the morning when you wake up, why would you force yourself to eat—to speed up your metabolism? Your metabolism is going to speed up during your exercise session. Remember, muscle is metabolically active. Get a great workout, and eat foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals when your workout is complete.
If you are eating for special sports performance or are on a medicinal nutrition plan from your health care specialist seek there counsel. This advice is for individuals who are healthy and are seeking general nutrition advice.
Eat well! Nadirah A Shakir