Running Before Breakfast – is it a Good Idea? – UPDATED 2021
Running is a great way to lose weight and build your aerobic fitness. And because of this, running is an activity that conveniently fits your around lifestyle and goals. However, many of us don’t always have the luxury to plan running in during the day. This means we often have to start running before breakfast and on an empty stomach too. But is this a good idea? Should you run before eating breakfast and should you be running in the morning on an empty stomach?
In this article, we explore what sports and nutrition science say about fasted running.
Running Before Breakfast – What You Should know?
There are many times we need to get our run quickly in before heading to work and this often means running before breakfast.
According to research, starting your run without eating has potential benefits. Some of these benefits include:
– Increased Fat Burn
– Increased aerobic endurance
– Less digestive issues
– Weight loss from reduced energy intake
Fasted running or running before breakfast or lunch is known most for its fat-burning ability. Because of the lack of energy intake, the body ends up using more fat as fuel. This is mainly because your carbohydrate stores are low. the result is increased fat burn, or “oxidation”.
A study down in 2015 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4703705/) showed that the 10 male participants increased their fat oxidation over a period of 24 hours when a workout was performed before eating breakfast.
Another study in 2017 by the same sport scientists found similar results (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5503250/).
However, since then there have been more investigations that conflict with both of these studies. One study in 2018 (https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-018-0263-6) found that a lack of carbohydrates before running actually caused the body to burn less fat both during and after the run.
These studies all show that the benefits of running before breakfast or running fasted aren’t still 100% known to improve aerobic fitness or increase fat burning after exercise.
So, if you decide to head out running before breakfast, it should be because of lack of time, rather than performance benefits.
Running in the Morning on an Empty Stomach
If you struggle with stomach issues running, running in the morning on an empty stomach is a great way to prevent digestive issues. Not only that, but it can help during your lunch or evening runs too.
During prolonged exercise, many people struggle with issues like; Stomach or intestinal cramps, nausea, diarrhea, and in worst cases vomiting.
These symptoms are common with athletes that run long distances and take in larger meals before running. So, if you are prone to digestive issues running, starting your runs before eating might be a good solution for you.
Alternatively, if you are running in the morning on an empty stomach with the goal of losing weight, you might be disappointed. Even though fasted exercise may help limit your energy and be advantageous in losing weight. The weight loss is from the decrease in energy consumption, rather than just not eating before a run.
What to Eat Before Running in the Morning
If you are someone that needs to eat before training, you may be wondering what to eat before running in the morning? Should you eat high-sugar foods? Complex carbohydrate or a variation?
It doesn’t matter your level, preparation is key before heading out the door. This means fueling properly which will ultimately reduce post-run fatigue and speed up recovery.
But eating the wrong foods before running can often lead to stomach issues and even stomach cramps. So, what are the best foods to eat before running?
Foods high in carbohydrates and moderate in protein are your best choice. That means reducing the amount of fat and fiber before your run. Doing so will help speed up digestion and less likely cause any stomach issues.
Some good pre-run meals include:
– Scrambled egg whites on white toast.
– Bananas and bagels.
– Baked potatoes with sour cream
While pasta is the go-to pre-run food for runners, it’s wise to stay away from fatty sauces, as this will slow digestion down. This goes for high fiber foods such as beans, lentils, and split peas.
The pre-run meal is important not only for your energy intake but to prevent you from feeling hungry before, during, and after your run. Also eating the right foods before running will help keep your blood sugar levels at an optimal state.
Pre-run snack – What is the best?
There are often times when you need to consume food before your run but leave no time for the pre-run meal to digest. this is where a pre-run snack is a quick way to fuel the body before heading out the door.
However, it’s only necessary to have a pre-run snack if you are planning to run 45 minutes or more. Unless you have been fasting for a period of time.
The pre-run snack serves a similar purpose to the pre-run meal. However, a pre-run snack is much lower in energy than a pre-run meal. That means keeping the snack small so the body can digest it quickly.
Some of the best pre-run snacks before running are:
– Half an energy bar
– Energy gels
– Handful of crackers
– Piece of bread with jam
In addition to snacking before you run, it is also important to hydrate correctly. taking in a small amount of water (150-250ml) with your snack will help the digestion process. It will also help hydrate you before your run, without leaving your stomach feeling full of water.
No matter what you end up eating before your run, trial and error is the key to finding out which foods work best for each person. Practicing your pre-run snacks and pre-run meals in training will also prevent any stomach issues from popping up during your next race.