A little while back, I posted a poll regarding what you eat in the morning before a workout.  On a morning group run a couple of weeks back, a friend started feeling a little light headed and experienced spots in his vision.  He didn’t eat anything that morning but was carrying a banana with him that he was planning to have post-run.  At the onset of these symptoms, he started eating part of the banana and within 15ish minutes was feeling better.

So I posed the question to myself – what do you need to eat to prepare yourself for that morning workout?

First off.  Let’s be clear – I am not a health care professional.  I’m sharing what I’ve gathered from my own experiences, discussions with friends, and a little old-fashioned (?) web research.

Generally, advice from the experts indicates eating 2 hours to 30 minutes before exercising – get enough glycogen going through your system so that there’s fuel ready to burn.  From all the discussions I’ve had with friends, nutritionists, and my own experience, I think that this MSN article captures the facts well.

Basically, you need to eat before making it to that workout!  Eat something.  When you wake up and workout without eating, you’re body placed into a starvation position.  Think about it – you probably haven’t eaten for 10 hours.  Try making it through your day not eating for 10 hours – you’d be hungry!  and sluggggggggish.  So when you try working out without eating, there’s no immediate sources of energy for for your body to jump to.  And what’s worse, is you can end up compromising any weight-loss or performance goals.

From my own experiences, not eating before a 30 minute elliptical session didn’t affect performance.  Even a 30 minute light jog didn’t suffer from not eating.  However, if I don’t eat and run long or hard (or both), I feel sluggish and develop headaches that threaten to make me feel like fainting.  (And really, when I’m working out hard, the first thing I want in the morning is some food!  Yay for revved up metabolisms…)

So now, we’re eating something about 30 minutes before exercising in the morning.  But what should that something be?

Like my friend, I opt for a banana.  It’s easy – grab and go.  Depending on how hungry I feel these days in the mornings, I’ll buy big or small bananas.  If I’m not that hungry, I’ll even split it to eat half before heading out and half when I get back.  Plus, if you’re following the dietary guidelines, a medium banana is approximately one serving of the 4 servings of fruit you should get in a day.  And it’s carb ready to give you some energy for that workout.

Now before you think I’m hired by Chiquita Banana, there are definitely other options for fueling up before a run.  So listen up those of you who are currently not eating anything prior to working out.  Just perusing the internet, I found several different options:

I shared that I rely on a banana in the morning.  But in the spirit of trying new things and recognizing that we change over time, I will be trying some different morning fuel-ups over the next few weeks, and let you know what I think.  I just might discover something that works better for me.  Post your suggestions, and I’ll try it out.

~ Happy Trails ~