If you were building a campfire, you probably wouldn’t create a pile of big logs, throw a lit match at it, and expect the result to be a warm, long-burning enjoyable fire. You’d first put some small sticks under the logs, and light those. You’d carefully manage those sticks, and after a while, those sticks would all be burning, and eventually the bigger logs would catch fire and begin that slow long burn. You’d have a campfire that would last for hours, and you’d feel great as those big fat logs slowly burned down.
Imagine the logs are your body fat, and the right kind of sticks are a good breakfast. If you start your long runs/walks with a good carbs breakfast, you’ll have some fuel to get your body warmed up and moving, and soon, your body will transition to burning both the good carbs and some body fat. If you start with no breakfast, your body will rely on your glucogen stores, but those will run out within an hour or so, and you’ll soon be out of energy. Fat burning probably won’t happen. If you start with a high sugar breakfast, you’ll get lots of energy right away, but it will fizzle out quickly, just like the match, before your body heats up and you can switch to burning both carbs and fat.
So, what constitutes a good breakfast?
- Your meal is eaten about an hour before the run so your body has time to digest it. Try to eat before leaving for the meeting spot, rather than eating in your car right before you start.
- It’s not too much. A few hundred calories is fine. More than that and you may regret that lump in your stomach for the first few miles.
- Good carbs with some protein. Examples include oatmeal, fruit and yogurt, cereal and milk, a whole grain bagel with peanut butter, and some of the healthier breakfast bars. If you’ve got some low fat pasta, rice or potato leftovers from dinner, that could work as well.
Since our routes will be getting longer, we’ll be learning more about proper nutrition for athletes at the next team breakfast. See you all next Sunday!