Maybe you think that the title doesn’t make sense because it’s normal that you must to eat before training but think twice…
The essence is that you have to respect the rule of individuality. Trust or not, but many people don’t like to eat anything before morning session and they feel very well. In other way the rest of people would feel dizziness and(or) other symptoms without food (sensitivity to lower blood sugar).
I would try to explain a few simple and very interesting things. The essence is, if you leave aside individuality, it’s logical that eating or not depends of training intensity.
If your morning session is reserved for something high intensive it’s necessary to eat small amount of LOW GLYCEMIC INDEX CARBS food exclusively (last meal before workout – 1-4 grams per kg of BW). This strategy is great if you have already filled carbohydrates depots. When it comes to time the best option is approximately one hour before session has started (AT LEAST) and a few sips (200 ml. max) of homemade sports beverage 10-15-20 min. before, a bit during warm up and every 15-20 min. continuously during session (when it comes to beverages before, during and after workout it must be a moderate to high GI). Plain water for exercising up to 1 hour in duration is acceptible (if energy depots are full) because we have enough energy in stocks up to 1 hour of HI exercising aproximately, but I recommend homemade energy beverage for any harder exercising if it’s not too short (too short – less than half hour).
This is very important because low glycemic index carbs release energy slower than high glycemic index carbs which is crucial for long time stable energy (we know that almost only carbs we need within high intensity workout). After the training, we can use high glycemic index carbs because of faster utilization (at that moment we need glycogen replenishment as fast as possible). Carbs : proteins = 3 : 1 rule… research shows that chocolate milk is not a bad choice, but it’s not so healthy – you can make a much healthier natural smoothies (banana + soy milk for example, of course non-gmo/organic) by yourself… But that’s another topic.
“To help your muscles recover at their most rapid rate, you should take something to eat within the first hour after you finish exercising. After that, muscles take up sugar at a much slower rate, require more insulin to do so, and it takes longer for your muscles to recover.” – Gabe Mirkin
Take a look what Gabe thinks about taking sugar (HGI) before competition or intense exercise: “Take sugar no more than five minutes before you start your competition. Do not take sugar earlier than that because when you eat sugar and your muscles are not contracting, you can get a high rise in blood sugar that causes the pancreas to release large amounts of insulin. This can cause a drop in blood sugar levels that can tire you. On the other hand, exercising muscles draw sugar rapidly from the bloodstream without needing insulin, so taking sugar during exercise or just before you start usually does not cause the high rise in blood sugar levels.” – Gabe Mirkin
After sleeping, minimal energy we need existing in veins because of homeostasis – everything is stored in muscles and liver and need to be started. Low glycemic index carbs (and beverages also) at proper moment help at that process and spare liver and muscles glycogen stocks – maybe you will need it at the end of high intensity workout (that stocks are much smaller compared with fats). Plus any kind of carbs are easily and faster digestible by itself. Fat and protein intake would make this and digestion process slower and inappropriate in-stomach-feeling with many people.
When you got long duration low intensity training in the morning, you can do this without any food before because most of energy you need for that intensity comes from fat cells. You simply have “a ton” of fat ready for energy even if you are lean (at any moment you have enough for approximately 100 marathon races in continuity). You don’t need extra fat fuel before training like in case of high intensities (when it comes to body energy stocks the difference is huge). Also, morning naturally releases more fat cells to blood than night because of higher cortisol level by morning (that’s the excellent potential muscle energy). Therefore, if your goal is burning fat cells (it should be one of the most important goals when it comes to cardio workout), with no breakfast morning LDLI session is the best option. If your goal is burning fat cells, morning is the right time for exercising in general (between 7-8 am). Exercising in general after 8 pm is not good because it artificially keeps the adrenal glands on (they work hard at a time when it’s not natural for them) and that can lead to chronical stress.
“Most people do not need to eat when they exercise at a relaxed pace for less than two hours. On the other hand, you will start to run out of stored muscle sugar at about 70 minutes of intense exercise or competition. Before and during intense exercise lasting more than 70 minutes, you should eat any source of sugar: a sugared drink, fruit, chocolate bars, candy or anything else you like. You do not need to spend extra money on sports supplements as you can get all the sugar you need from food and you do not need to replace any other nutrients. In competitions lasting more than two and a half hours, you should also eat any food that provides some protein, such as nuts or a sandwich. In competitions lasting more than three hours or in very hot weather, you also need to replace the salt you lose in sweat. The easiest way to get salt is with potato chips, salted nuts, French fries or whatever salty foods taste good to you. You are unlikely to be able to get enough salt in a sports drink because salty drinks taste awful. You do not need to replace any other mineral or vitamin during exercise, so you do not need to take sports drinks or supplements containing calcium, potassium or magnesium.” – Gabe Mirkin
Otherwise, many people have digestive problems when they eat fat and protein dominant food immediately before LDLI session (or any workout at all). Also, carbs with a HIGH amount of dietary fibers taken before workout are inappropriate for many people because it can cause gastrointestinal problems, bloating effect.
Here, I will let you know one small trick you can use if you want to lose body fat. It’s well known that dominantly fat burning starts approximately 30 min. after workout started. With trick below we can shorten workout duration with same effect on fat expenditure. Beside the fact that many studies have shown that morning training is the best time for losing fat stocks, if you want to increase aimed effect don’t have a breakfast but eat only one VERY SMALL piece of almost pure animal fat 30 min. before workout starting (greaves, butter with bread, cheese, bacon…) OR drink one black coffee cup 15-20 min. before. Actually, the fat expenditure at the morning is high because of insulin inactivity also which may increase effects along with the tricks mentioned above (insulin inactivity = free fat for use). There was no food/carbs dominantly in your stomach pretty long time and that’s good for fat expenditure (unless you have the habit of visiting the fridge overnight 🙂 ). Insulin is active around 3 hours after eating (duration depends on how much did you eat), therefore – don’t exercise within that 3 hours after eating if your goal is burning fat cells. Fat cells are locked as long as insulin is active!
Plus, if we eat carbs and start to exercise immediately after eating our muscles will start to spend that energy first – but our goal is to lose energy from our fat/carbs stocks. Therefore, we shouldn’t drink anything sweet during exercising (I am talking about obese general population – not athletes), only water is preferred.
Beside the fact mentioned above, some people feel great only when eat some low (or even high which works short time) glycemic index carbs before training (but maybe it’s just a habit, fats can be locked in stocks in that way = less chance to spend them properly because of the high insulin activity after carbs). They move up an energy a little bit in the morning and, not less important, even if you got LDLI training session a proper initial (in stocks) amount of carbs is very important because fat expenditure is on “carbs fire process”. That’s mean that proper amount of carbs IN BODY STOCKS (or pre-workout intake – works with some people) before workout started is something crucial when it comes to any training intensity. If you can’t eat don’t worry because we all have enough in stocks.
At the end, taking extra sugar or flour when not training increases risk for obesity and diabetes: “Taking extra refined carbohydrates (sugar or flour) when you are not exercising can cause a high rise in blood sugar that increases risk for weight gain, diabetes and heart attacks. Contracting muscles remove sugar so fast from the bloodstream that blood sugar usually does not rise too high during exercise and for up to half an hour after you finish exercising. However, you do not have this benefit during or after casual exercise or on days off.” – Gabe Mirkin
Last but not least, don’t take the written article for granted! As I said before, everything is individual because you can’t look at complicated human body like it’s a math (1+1=2). So, listen to your body and try to find best possible strategy because you deserve best possible results!
Thanks for reading and all the best,