American Institute for Cancer Research


April 2012 | Issue 69

Coach's Corner: Exercise and Breakfast

Man and Woman Making Fruit SmoothieQ: I exercise first thing in the morning. I don't eat before my workout because I don't feel like I need to, but should I?

A: Think of your body like a car – food is the fuel that keeps your body moving. The time you are asleep is essentially a 6 to 8 hour fast. If you don't give your body fuel when you wake up, you will basically be running on fumes while you exercise. While you can make it through your workout, chances are you will feel sluggish, unmotivated and maybe even lightheaded. Sound familiar? These are signs that your body needs fuel.

Eating before a morning workout can help you:

Ideally, you should strive to eat about 200 to 300 calories one to two hours before you exercise.

But if your normal routine is to roll out of bed and begin your activity, eat less. Think snack: 50 to 100 calories. Your body can digest a small amount of food even within five minutes of exercise. And you don't have to sit down to eat; a grab-and-go choice is a great idea.

It can take time to learn exactly how much of what foods you can eat before a workout without upsetting your stomach. There is no "one size fits all" plan. Use the tips below to create a pre-exercise eating routine that works best for you.

Pre-exercise meal/snack suggestions

Use these suggestions to help guide your pre-exercise food choices. Feel free to mix-and-match. Note: calorie counts are approximate.

For more breakfast ideas check out New American Plate for Breakfast.



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