Is Running on an empty stomach good?

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running empty stomach

Do not skip breakfast if you are a runner. Many people believe that fasted cardio or starting your day running on an empty stomach will benefit you more in terms of weight loss and fat loss. When we get up in the morning, our blood glucose levels are low. Hence the fuel available for running is not available. The body thus takes out the reserves and hence, consumes carbs and fats depending on speed, endurance, and effort. However, runners may not realize that in doing so the body starts an overdrive on micro-nutrients too. This over a while will have a ripple effect leaving the runner short of important nutrients.

Is skipping breakfast healthy?

Researches have proved that those who skip breakfast mostly land up consuming more calories in lunch, dinner, and snacks. Since the body has exerted and fuel is less, the body will demand more calories. So our craving for food remains high longer than it should. Few motivated hard head runners intend to loose weight quickly or get their desired body fast. They force themselves not to eat more calories and hence restrict their lunch and dinner too to remain calorie deficient. In doing so, they are less likely to meet their recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for essential vitamins and minerals including calcium, iron, Vitamin A, B-complex, C, D, and folate. 

These micro-minerals are important to runners. Foliate improves blood flow to muscles. Iron can improve athletic performance. B-complex is important for energy metabolism. 

Breakfast is important

Breakfast generally includes certain foods like eggs, oats, breakfast cereals, etc. that are high in nutritional value. Also, absorption is at its best in the morning when the body is demanding it. Although it is possible to take nutrients in lunch and dinner but in that case it will require special preparation and attention. You can make some of the breakfast foods as part of the later-day meals. 

Not all breakfast choices are healthy. Hence sugar bomb cereals, too many sweets, and processed food can offload the benefits. 

Breakfast choices for runners

  • Oats with milk or soy milk
  • Yogurt
  • Whole grain or multigrain bread
  • Eggs
  • Fruits and salads
  • Cereals fortified with minerals
  • Fruit juice or a smoothie

Effect of breakfast on our workout

Breakfast gives us the essential energy required to perform our run or planned workout. However, we have to ensure that we are giving enough time between a pre-workout meal and our training so that the meal is absorbed and does not strain our digestive system. We need to divert our energy levels towards our training and not digestion. Eating an easy digesting food about one hour before our workout is essential. If we take a full meal, it may take about two hours or so. 

Since all runners are different, you may get the right food after some trials. Observe your energy levels and comfort in the GI tract. In a few days, only you can have food that suits you best. 

Breakfast delays ‘hitting the wall’ among runners. Hitting the wall is a condition when a runner faces sudden fatigue and loss of energy due to depleted glycogen stores in the liver and muscles. We can work on the lactate threshold for a longer period leading to better results. 

Take-home advice

Do not run empty stomach especially if you are training to improve your running. It may take some time to know which food suits you best. So do not hesitate to experiment. Have your energy bag full before you go longer, faster, and stronger

Article by : Capt Jitender Fitness Expert and Ultra Marathon Runner H2F Care

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