The importance of breakfast for runners
Posted by Tia Patel | Jan-14-2021
They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and we’re led to believe that this is indeed even more beneficial for runners, who need a well-balanced breakfast to fuel —or recover from—that tough morning run!
With National Nutrition Month approaching, we’ve been thinking………...there are so many questions surrounding running and nutrition, such as when you should eat breakfast if you’re going for a run? Should you run fasted?? What should you be eating for optimal energy and recovery???
We thought we’d try to unravel the mystery without all the waffle! 😉
What are the benefits of eating breakfast?
- Boosts energy levels and restores your glycogen levels.
- Breakfast provides a lot of your day’s total nutrient intake with people who eat breakfast are more likely to meet their recommended daily intakes of vitamins and minerals.
- Breakfast helps you control your weight.
- Breakfast boosts brain power providing your brain with energy to maintain attention, ability to concentrate and memory.
- A healthy breakfast may reduce the risk of illness.
- Breakfast helps you make better food choices throughout the day.
Should I eat before my morning run and when?
When we wake up in the morning our blood sugars are at their lowest because we haven’t eaten since the night before. Most of us need to eat something to kick our body and brain into action!
The problem we runners have, is that eating anything too close to a run may impair our running and play games with the gut. If you do choose to eat before running, it's recommended to eat 1-2 hours before the run to give the body enough time to digest the food so that it doesn’t feel like it's about to come back up when we do start to run, or worse, paralyse you with stitch in the middle of nowhere! What’s more, getting up an hour before a 7 a.m. run to give enough time to digest breakfast properly is not exactly practical!
GPD Top Tip eat something as soon as you wake up, before you bother getting your kit on, to give yourself maximum digestion time.
What to do if you can’t face food in the morning
Some people find they just can’t tolerate food first thing in the morning – perhaps because they have their last meal of the day quite late at night or they don’t find typical breakfast foods appealing, or because food first thing in the morning turns their stomach. If it’s hard for you to eat food first thing in the morning, you might like to try:
- reducing the size of your meals in the evening and eating them earlier so you’re hungry in the morning
- investigating some new recipes and stocking your cupboards with some different types of foods to increase your breakfast appetite
- switching your breakfast to morning tea or mid-morning snack time instead – perhaps try a portable breakfast like overnight oat pots or a smoothie so you’ve got healthy options ready to go when you feel ready for your mid-morning breakfast.
Top 5 breakfast ideas for pre or post morning run...
1. Porridge with sliced banana - Porridge is low in fat and has plenty of carbohydrates. If you’re running a lot during the week, then porridge is a highly recommended choice. The slow-release carbs are the reason why you don’t feel hungry right up until lunch and are perfect for bringing out high performances in your runs.
2. Spinach Omelette - Protein in eggs is good for any runner, just because you’re not body building or getting ‘ripped’ doesn’t mean you don’t need it. You’re using so many muscles when running that using protein will help them recover quicker and help build them up even stronger. Spinach not only restores energy, but also increases vitality and improves the quality of blood. It also includes a large amount of iron, which holds a primary role in transporting oxygen around the body.
3. Yogurt and Fruit - Simple, yet effective. Greek yogurt holds not only plenty of calcium, but boasts double the protein of your everyday yogurt. Preferably choose the plain and non-fat variety. Adding the right fruit will bring a better taste, but also a variety of vitamins and nutrients which are great for your body. Bananas, oranges, blueberries, grapes and grapefruit will all do the world of good.
4. Poached eggs and salmon - Eggs Royale anyone? Packed with protein, eggs are always a great kick-starter to the day. Salmon is packed full of nutrients, high-quality protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Not forgetting potassium, selenium and vitamin B12. We layer ours on a slice of wholemeal toast.
5. Smoothies - We love taking our smoothie out with us when we’re on the go and need an energy boost. Make the perfect recovery shake with a mixture of bananas and peanut butter. The perfect blend of protein and carbs for that magic 4:1 recovery ratio. Adding some Calcium-packed natural yoghurt also makes a substantial shake. You can even get inventive with what's in season, or think ahead and stock up on summer fruits when they're fresh and cheaper. Freeze berries and chopped fruit ready to tip into your blender for a little summer sunshine – and vitamin C – on a dark winter morning.
Treat breakfast as a reward for your run! It’s more important that you replenish glucose sources after running. Eating a meal rich in carbohydrates and protein will aid recovery whilst keeping up energy levels throughout the day.
That’s all yolks!