Should I Eat Breakfast Before or After a Morning Run?


Breakfast is without query, the most important meal of the day. However, for runners, breakfast is a dilemma. Most runners would ask if they should take their breakfast before the morning run. Some would ask the other question. Whatever the situation might be, there’s one thing tha t you can stick to what is more convenient for you. Based on preference, some runners would want to have something in the stomach to jumpstart their system for a run. In contrast, other runners would prefer to stay away from food as it misbehaves in their gut during a run.

However, regardless of preference, there seems to be a scientific or medical approach that could show you the best option to go for if you are just starting to run and if you are already running (we learn every day). Read through the guide to learn more.

Eating Before a Morning Run: The Advantages

When we rise in the morning, our blood sugars are generally low. This is because, at a state of fasting (i.e. when asleep), the body still regulate some essential organs of the human body. The body uses the glycogen stored in the liver and muscles from the dinner the night before to process this activity. When glycogen drops, it switches to other forms of biochemical processes to produce energy. This is why eating the night before is important for you as a runner. So when you wake in the morning, the glycogen reserves are not full to carry you through the whole day.

Most runners that are lovers of science would want to have something in their carbohydrate tank to jumpstart their body and brain into action. However, there is a problem often associated with this and this include, eating anything too close to a run might impair the system, causing misbehaviour in the gut.

To avoid this, get up an hour or two before your proposed morning run to give room for a little bit of digestion because normally digestion of carbohydrate within a short period is impractical.

For shorter runs, you could take certain fruits such as banana that could boost your system, especially when you had a dinner rich in carbohydrate the night before. Also, if you don’t have time to eat in the morning, you could just take these bananas, preferably with water to get your system going.

For longer runs that last for about 1 – 2 hours, try to get something down by eating a proper breakfast at least 1-2 hours before you run. You could eat some oats or porridge for a starter.

Eating After the Morning Run (Fasted Run): The Pros

Eating after a morning run is mostly associated with runners’ preference or goals. Imagine a runner with the goal of weight loss would want to eat after the early morning run. Going for a run on an empty stomach would shift the body to utilize other forms of energy reserves to power through the miles ahead. The body also stores fat, and this is the major energy reserve when you have not eaten in the morning. It is an ideal low-intensity cardiovascular exercise. Research has proven the fact that running at a lower-intensity such as jogging would increase the amount of energy derived from fat rather than carbohydrate.

Therefore, runners with goals of weight loss, running on an empty stomach would have increased fat burn than runners who ate before beforehand. However, this is not a decisive factor for weight loss. Furthermore, running on an empty stomach may help control your energy intake. This is because the body utilizes the glycogen stored in the liver, and the muscle glycogen is depleted. Research has proven that this affects your energy intake through the liver-brain neural network.

However, asides goals, we recommend that if you are going to be running a shorter distance, this could be an option for you, but, running a longer distance could be harmful especially if you are leisure athletes who want to improve performance.

Putting All Together

Now that we have talked about each aspect, it is time to help you decide which one is best for you. Even without discussing further, you might have known which one is likely the most suitable for you. However, we need to reiterate these facts more because of the numerous questions that keep on arising.

As a runner, it is advisable you know the kind of system you possess. Suppose you have a very sensitive and overwhelming system. In that case, you could prefer to have your run first before a complete breakfast but make sure to take at least a cup of water even if you don’t want to eat.

Whatever the goals you might have set, there is need for you to know some major drawbacks associated with a fasted run, there is a huge risk of injury when you get fatigued, muscle loss which arises when your body is forced to metabolize proteins to obtain energy resulting into high levels of cortisol, to mention but a few.

Moreover, running on an empty stomach is not for everyone. For instance, if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, fasted run can cause a drastic reduction in your blood sugar. It is recommended you check your blood sugar and eat something before running

All in all, we would recommend you eat before running as this gives your body the energy and fuel it requires for a safe and efficient run. If you would run before eating, we advise you to stick to a moderate run. When you get lightheaded, get a break.  If you do a high-intensity run in the morning, the opposite is the case; it is better you snack before going out.