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-   -   Pre-Morning Workout Meal Problems (http://www.bikeforums.net/training-nutrition/935270-pre-morning-workout-meal-problems.html)

Equinox 02-22-14 01:54 PM

Pre-Morning Workout Meal Problems
 
I'm writing about my wife, who is an excellent runner. She runs in the morning. She has a bad reaction to breakfast. I spoke to her about eating something before running. If she eats anything at all, she experiences what she calls a "crash". Low energy. It is as if she experiences low blood sugar. She eats very healthily. She says cereal is the worst and she never eats it. She runs in the morning without eating anything. I have worked out without eating and done ok, but usually I eat something;maybe a Clif Bar or Ezekiel muffin with almond butter. I do try to wait at least two hours between eating and working out. But, I can;t figure out what my wife is going through. Any ideas?

chandltp 02-22-14 03:39 PM

If this happens regularly, check out "reactive hypoglycemia". If I eat carbs on an empty stomach, I can get some pretty bad symptoms. Beyond that, it's variable depending on what I've eaten throughout the day. Morning was the worst. A bowl of oatmeal at 6:00 AM has me ravenous by 8:00 AM due to low blood sugar. The equivalent calories from eggs does not.

wolfchild 02-22-14 04:10 PM

It sounds as if your wife is doing very well running/exercising in a fasted state, without eating breakfast. I think that's great. Why change anything if it works for her ??. I am like that too , I never eat any breakfast and I don't have a problem with energy levels.. Breakfast may not be the most important meal of the day as we have been conditioned to believe. Breakfast is only important for children and teenagers who are growing up, once you an adult you don't really need to eat breakfast. And yes your wife is correct about breakfast cereals being bad and unhealthy, it's like eating a dessert first thing in the morning, sure you're going to end up with energy crash. If you're going to eat anything in the morning then at least avoid carbs and sugar and have some protein with a little fat instead.

OldTryGuy 02-22-14 04:58 PM

Some approve of exercise in the AM without eating before depending on duration and intensity.

Today's ride was 91miles. Three hours before I had yogurt with almonds, walnuts, raisins, honey, cinnamon and 100% Cocoa. One hour before a banana with peanut butter. Five miles after leaving my house was the pre-ride pit stop with a 100mg caffeine Cliff Shot Chocolate Cherry Gel.

Did the same for Ironman Florida in November.

Less intense rides I eat dry rolled oats with honey, cinnamon, almonds, walnuts, ground flaxseed, fennel, 100% Cocoa, raisins. Works for me, but others???? I do not suffer the crash.

Pretty much do the first routine before marathons and halves.

Equinox 02-22-14 05:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by wolfchild (Post 16518151)
It sounds as if your wife is doing very well running/exercising in a fasted state, without eating breakfast. I think that's great. Why change anything if it works for her ??. I am like that too , I never eat any breakfast and I don't have a problem with energy levels.. Breakfast may not be the most important meal of the day as we have been conditioned to believe. Breakfast is only important for children and teenagers who are growing up, once you an adult you don't really need to eat breakfast. And yes your wife is correct about breakfast cereals being bad and unhealthy, it's like eating a dessert first thing in the morning, sure you're going to end up with energy crash. If you're going to eat anything in the morning then at least avoid carbs and sugar and have some protein with a little fat instead.

Are you comfortable with a blanket statement about cereal. Clearly, some are awful. But I do well with cereal. My base is Kashi Go Lean. That's gotta be better than Cocoa Puffs, right.

chaadster 02-22-14 07:24 PM

I agree that if things are working for her, then it's probably not necessary to change her routine. It sounds like she's running at low enough exertion levels that she can burn fat, which is fine. If she really wants to up her output, then she's going to need to fuel before the runs to optimize her performance. Doesn't have to be solids, it could be an energy shake or something. But the bottom line is that she's either achieving what she wants or she's not, and if she's not, she needs to find a way to fuel pre-run that works for her, such that she hits the road feeling good.

GeorgeBMac 02-22-14 08:07 PM

Except for cereal, you don't say much about what she eats... But, assuming that it is cereal -- particularly if it is a high sugar / low fiber cereal, then I don't find that surprising...

When you take in a lot of simple carbs (such as refined grains and/or sugar) your insulin spikes in order to sweep the sugar out of the blood and into the cells. The result is that your body swings (over about 2 hours) from a hyperglycemic state to a hypoglycemic state.

Then, in addition, when you exercise, your body is burning whatever glucose it can find -- which lowers the blood sugar level even further.

The result of the two can be a VERY hypoglycemic state. One where you go beyond just being weak or not having a good work out to one where you "crash" -- you may feel woozy, weak, dizzy, irritable, sweaty... And, if your sugar goes low enough you can even pass out (because your brain needs glucose to function -- no glucose and your brain shuts down)

I think most here advocate eating before working out -- if for no other reason than to give your body the fuel it needs to perform. But, WHAT you eat can make a big difference.

I would avoid refined grains and sugars -- unless she intends to keep pumping them in throughout the exercise to prevent the hypoglycemic state that they can cause. Proteins, fats, whole grains and fiber intense foods (or, better yet, a combination of those) would be better than most common breakfast cereals.

Heathpack 02-22-14 08:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GeorgeBMac (Post 16518625)
I think most here advocate eating before working out -- if for no other reason than to give your body the fuel it needs to perform.

To me, it matters entirely what sort of workout I'm doing. Something mellow or something short, under say an hour, I won't eat first. A very intense short workout or a long ride, I'll eat a litle something first.

Many women, being physically smaller than men, are not really allotted that many calories in a day. For me, I need the calorie deficit on the days I exercise in order to have a sembelence of a "normal" dietary intake. If I just eat all the calories before I exercise, I get nowhere and I certainly have enough stored glycogen to make it through a yoga class or a 1 mile swim or a 25 mile easy bike ride. Additionally, I can manage hunger way better if I delay breakfast until 9 or 9:30am.

So if OPs wife is running intensely or for a long time, I'd say try to find a way to eat. If she's a mellow runner who is not running for a long time, she might be better off not eating IMO, especially if weight management is in part her goal.

H

wolfchild 02-22-14 09:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GeorgeBMac (Post 16518625)
I think most here advocate eating before working out -- if for no other reason than to give your body the fuel it needs to perform. But, WHAT you eat can make a big difference.

It all depends on what type of a workout it is, how long and how intense. For example: if I am riding a 100 mile century then I'll eat a small low glycemic breakfast. But if I am doing a 2-3 hour bike ride at a low-medium intensity or if I am doing a 45 min weight training session then I can do that in a fasted state and I don't need to eat anything until my workout is done.

Dave Cutter 02-22-14 09:18 PM

Is she... in her reproductive years? That caused my 1st wife to actually throw-up after breakfast.

GeorgeBMac 02-22-14 10:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Heathpack (Post 16518686)
To me, it matters entirely what sort of workout I'm doing. Something mellow or something short, under say an hour, I won't eat first. A very intense short workout or a long ride, I'll eat a litle something first.

Many women, being physically smaller than men, are not really allotted that many calories in a day. For me, I need the calorie deficit on the days I exercise in order to have a sembelence of a "normal" dietary intake. If I just eat all the calories before I exercise, I get nowhere and I certainly have enough stored glycogen to make it through a yoga class or a 1 mile swim or a 25 mile easy bike ride. Additionally, I can manage hunger way better if I delay breakfast until 9 or 9:30am.

So if OPs wife is running intensely or for a long time, I'd say try to find a way to eat. If she's a mellow runner who is not running for a long time, she might be better off not eating IMO, especially if weight management is in part her goal.

H

True... Or it can be true. You may well be able to make it through an early morning workout without 'breaking the fast'...

But it doesn't sound like she doesn't want to eat for any reason other than the fact that "she experiences what she calls a "crash". Low energy".

But that does not change my main point: WHAT you eat can cause a sugar spike followed quickly with an insulin spike -- and then you go hypoglycemic (Especially if you give it the double whammy of exercising on top of it). And hypoglycemia can cause the symptoms that she describes.

Heathpack 02-22-14 10:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GeorgeBMac (Post 16518802)
True... Or it can be true. You may well be able to make it through an early morning workout without 'breaking the fast'...

But it doesn't sound like she doesn't want to eat for any reason other than the fact that "she experiences what she calls a "crash". Low energy".

But that does not change my main point: WHAT you eat can cause a sugar spike followed quickly with an insulin spike -- and then you go hypoglycemic (Especially if you give it the double whammy of exercising on top of it). And hypoglycemia can cause the symptoms that she describes.

I do not disagree that what you eat matters. Strangely oatmeal (I make steel cut oats, with milk, shredded apples, nuts, a little sugar) does this to me, not immediately but in two hours I'll be really hungry. I need a good amt of protein in my breakfast.

The only comment of yours that I would disagree with is that food is always recommended before a workout.

H

hueyhoolihan 02-22-14 10:24 PM

i wouldn't give it a second thought. i never eat or drink before my daily 20-40 miler.

GeorgeBMac 02-22-14 10:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Heathpack (Post 16518810)
I do not disagree that what you eat matters. Strangely oatmeal (I make steel cut oats, with milk, shredded apples, nuts, a little sugar) does this to me, not immediately but in two hours I'll be really hungry. I need a good amt of protein in my breakfast.

The only comment of yours that I would disagree with is that food is always recommended before a workout.

H

I think I said: "I think most here advocate eating before working out" If I am wrong about that I apologize. But it is my impression that most here eat something before a ride. But, I suspect that most would also agree with you that, if you can make it through the ride without burning up all all your energy -- and you don't want to eat, then go for it!

My limit is about an hour: if the ride is less than an hour I can do it without eating first. More than an hour (or actually about 75 minutes) and I will start to feel it.

And, I think most nutritionists would concur that it is wise to eat breakfast -- that skipping that meal to save calories often results in eating more calories later in the day. I think many would argue that point -- I did for years. Now, I am not so sure.

But, like you, I too need 'a good amt of protein in my breakfast'. A breakfast high in simple carbs (refined grains and sugars) like a common cereal will put me under in a couple hours -- and the "Continental breakfasts' that are popular in hotels and meetings will just about kill me. I don't even need to work out to go hypoglycemic after one of those!

Heathpack 02-22-14 10:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GeorgeBMac (Post 16518852)
And, I think most nutritionists would concur that it is wise to eat breakfast -- that skipping that meal to save calories often results in eating more calories later in the day.

I agree that breakfast should be eaten. I never miss it- nor do I miss any other meal. I am a hearty eater. In fact, I eat first breakfast, second breakfast, lunch, snack, sometimes second snack, dinner and dessert, PLUS sometimes pre-workout meal, lol. But if you've only got 1350 calories to spend (more of course on workout days) in the context of a hearty appetite, you've got to come up with an eating strategy or two. Starting feeding later in the day is a strategy called "intermittent fasting". There are a number of reasons to employ this strategy, but one is that it works better for some people who are allotted less calories in a given day. Hence breakfast around 9:15 or so. For me that's about a 13 hour period of fasting per day and 11 hours of feeding.

H

GeorgeBMac 02-22-14 11:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Heathpack (Post 16518865)
I agree that breakfast should be eaten. I never miss it- nor do I miss any other meal. I am a hearty eater. In fact, I eat first breakfast, second breakfast, lunch, snack, sometimes second snack, dinner and dessert, PLUS sometimes pre-workout meal, lol. But if you've only got 1350 calories to spend (more of course on workout days) in the context of a hearty appetite, you've got to come up with an eating strategy or two. Starting feeding later in the day is a strategy called "intermittent fasting". There are a number of reasons to employ this strategy, but one is that it works better for some people who are allotted less calories in a given day. Hence breakfast around 9:15 or so. For me that's about a 13 hour period of fasting per day and 11 hours of feeding.

H

I think you would not like Aragorn's way of eating anymore than the Hobbits Pippin and Merry did in 'Lord of the Rings' / "Fellowship of the Ring" !

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkzvHtjnNOs

:thumb:

Heathpack 02-22-14 11:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GeorgeBMac (Post 16518883)
I think you would not like Aragorn's way of eating anymore than the Hobbits Pippin and Merry did in 'Lord of the Rings' / "Fellowship of the Ring" !

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkzvHtjnNOs

:thumb:

Lol, Mr. H jokes that I eat like a cross between a Hobbit (with all the thoroughly-relished meals) and a manatee (with the large amounts of lettuce).

H

CbadRider 02-22-14 11:42 PM

I teach an hour spin class at 5:15 am twice a week. I never eat beforehand and I've never had any issues. My body needs about an hour to digest food before a hard workout and I'm not inclined to get up earlier than my current 4:30 am timeframe just to eat. If your wife isn't currently experiencing any issues without eating, why should she change anything?

Machka 02-23-14 02:55 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Equinox (Post 16517912)
I'm writing about my wife, who is an excellent runner. She runs in the morning. She has a bad reaction to breakfast. I spoke to her about eating something before running. If she eats anything at all, she experiences what she calls a "crash". Low energy. It is as if she experiences low blood sugar. She eats very healthily. She says cereal is the worst and she never eats it. She runs in the morning without eating anything. I have worked out without eating and done ok, but usually I eat something;maybe a Clif Bar or Ezekiel muffin with almond butter. I do try to wait at least two hours between eating and working out. But, I can;t figure out what my wife is going through. Any ideas?

Does your wife feel OK when she runs without breakfast? If so ... then why not go with it?

I am not keen on breakfast either ... if I eat it before about 10 am, it makes me feel sick. Therefore, I go to work on an empty stomach. I've even commuted a fairly long distance (cycling 35 km to work) on an empty stomach ... and I was fine. I ate breakfast when I arrived at work.


Cereal doesn't particularly provide much energy for me. Toast is better. However, toast with honey is really bad (bonk within about 20 km) ... so it's got to be toast with cheese, jam or nutella.

But if I've got to eat something early in the morning (i.e. I'm about to set off on a century ride) then it's got to be liquid/soft ... Ensure or maybe chicken-flavoured oriental noodles with quite a bit of water.

Carbonfiberboy 02-23-14 05:19 PM

There are really 3 conditions which can make use of different morning eating disciplines:

1) Long run with lots of time before. Eat carbs with some protein 3 hours before, about 400 calories. There may be a crash period, but 3 hours gives time for blood sugars to recover to normal levels. At this point your liver glycogen used up during sleep is recovered, you feel OK but hungry. Eat or drink something carby and calorific immediately before starting, such as a gel and water.

2) Long run with less time than that before. Don't eat anything until 15 minutes before the run. Then have something carby and calorific, maybe more than just a gel and water. Clif bar is about the right size.

3) Short hard run. Eat as in #1 , but 1 hour before starting. By the time your blood sugar is peaking, you'll be running and the crash won't happen. You might have to experiment with the trial food to see exactly when that peak is. The exact food is important to some people or they get stomach upset from starting so soon after eating.

4) Short moderate or easy run. Don't eat. If you don't run short on energy by the end of the run, it fits this description.

Dunbar 02-24-14 01:40 AM

I'm not a breakfast eater either. It's one of the reasons I don't like riding in the morning. If I do ride in the AM I have to force down a breakfast burrito or something like that before I leave so that I'm not famished by the turnaround point.

I think it's hard for the breakfast eaters to fathom that some people don't like eating breakfast.

GeorgeBMac 02-24-14 08:31 AM

I had never been a breakfast eater. Or, if I did, I ate it closer to lunch time than breakfast time. Then I switched from morning coffee to morning tea and started wanting to eat a substantial breakfast (oatmeal, soymilk & apple cider with apples, raisons and banana) at breakfast.

When I started drinking morning coffee again I went back to not wanting breakfast.

Dunbar 02-24-14 02:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GeorgeBMac (Post 16521929)
When I started drinking morning coffee again I went back to not wanting breakfast.

Same here, I don't get hungry until 10-11am and coffee works remarkably well at quashing my hunger to hold me over until lunch. The whole breakfast is the most important meal thing always struck me as a vast oversimplification. I'd rather not consume breakfast calories if I'm not hungry.

The only other time I eat breakfast is during work travel. My meetings sometimes go to 1-2pm before I can get lunch so I'll usually have some eggs and yogurt at the hotel in the morning so I'm not starving.

Rowan 02-25-14 04:25 AM

There are enough glycogen stores in the muscles and liver to sustain effort such as moderately paced running for two hours.

The other issue here is that the OP is coming from a cyclist's perspective where GI issues are less likely to occur compared with a runner and the same levels of intensity.

When much younger, I trained for field hockey by running early in the morning. I didn't have breakfast until after I had finished the run. If I were to do the same again now, the routine would be no different.

I'd suggest the OP let his wife be. She is doing what she wants to do, the way she wants to do it, and it seems to be working for her. Why interfere with that?

Fat Boy 02-27-14 01:08 PM

There are a lot of good adaptations which come out of fasted training. You train the body to access fat for energy and you get a good growth hormone release. The problem is the type of training you can do (or at least the training _I_ can do). I can do short (1 minute) intervals or I can do longer SST or lower type rides for up to ~2 hours. For one reason or another I can't effectively ride threshold intervals. If I'm training early in the morning fasted, I usually have a black tea with nothing in it, and then I'm off. At about 1200-1300 Kj burned, I get pretty damned hungry and by 1500 calories I start to get shaky.


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