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Breakfast Required Before Early Morning Rides?

Old 05-29-16, 02:32 PM
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pat0115
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Breakfast Required Before Early Morning Rides?

On my days off, I like to get up early and get my ride in before the running around starts. I'll usually start riding around 6am, and my usual ride is 30 to 35 miles in about an hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours. I started bike riding to lose weight and I've lost 65 lbs in the last 11 months. But I've been reading lately that riding too long on an empty stomach can actually inhibit weight loss? That rides before breakfast should only be an hour or less in duration? Just can't see myself having to get up even earlier to eat breakfast before my rides. Any opinions on this subject?
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Old 05-29-16, 02:42 PM
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Skipping breakfast is fine with short and/or low-intensity rides. If you really flog yourself, you'll drain your glycogen stores -- that'll make it harder to keep up intensity and will probably make you ravenously hungry, which can undo a diet in short order.
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Old 05-29-16, 02:46 PM
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have a bowl of cooked oats with a sliced banana and butter and some honey before you cycle .... 35 miles is not far and this will keep you full of energy
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Old 05-29-16, 02:59 PM
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If you're riding that distance/time now without feeling bad, I wouldn't change anything. Your body gets used to using energy supplies in whatever form is available. You likely are doing things just fine.

People used to eating get hungry when they don't eat. That's why why you hear advice like you do. Also a lot of diet advice isnt founded in facts.
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Old 05-29-16, 03:19 PM
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I don't eat breakfast. I eat when I'm hungry. I figured out, while riding fully loaded across the country, that I ride better on an empty stomach. I don't have this mass of breakfast moving around my midsection as well as taking some of the available energy reserves in the process. I do eat when a ride's over but not enough to be called a meal. Generally if you listen to your body - like you listen to your bike- and give it what it asks for, it'll give you a lot more than you thought was in the tank. Not eating is what loses weight. Yes, your body can go into 'survival mode' but I don't think that at your level of exertion you have anything to worry about. Have fun, eat what and when you want, it'll all come out in the end.
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Old 05-29-16, 03:19 PM
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I do two hour hammer rides in the morning without eating anything beforehand (or during.) Haven't died so far.
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Old 05-29-16, 03:25 PM
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I don't know about inhibiting weight loss but I never eat before my morning commute and seldom before a morning ride on weekends. The weekend rides are generally 30-60 miles. I have suffered no ill effects from that habit.
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Old 05-29-16, 03:35 PM
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If I'm going out for a ride longer than 3 hours or so I'll eat some overnight oats before I go out. Takes no time to prepare and under 5 minutes to eat.
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Old 05-29-16, 03:39 PM
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everyone is different. riding on an empty stomach doesn't work for me at all.

I put down a full bfast (bacon, egg, toast, fruit, coffee) before rolling out.
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Old 05-29-16, 03:47 PM
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The above posters say all the right things .... but I want to get some attention too ....

A couple points:

For one, when you ride on an empty stomach you can train your body top metabolize more fat. (The cross-country rider probably knows about this.) Fat metabolizes slowly but has a lot of calories. You don't get a burst of energy, you get a trickle, and if you push too hard you will bonk (run out of available fuel (both stored glycogen and the products of digestion.)

If you finish your ride without feeling completely drained .... well, that works. Why change?

If I need a little more energy I prefer a Powerbar or something. Having a breakfast digesting away inside me limits how much I can push. A banana and half a bagel maybe ... no fats, no dairy. But everybody is different.

After the ride I'd drink a lot of diluted electrolyte replacement drink of some type (Gatorade mix is handy, because you can make whatever strength you like.) Hopefully this will take a little edge off the hunger. I find it really easy to overeat after a morning ride. If I can eat a handful of nuts or a half-bagel or something and wait half an hour before really digging in, I can generally tell when it is time to stop. If I sit right down to eat I have usually over-eaten before I realize it.

I have never heard that riding too far on an empty stomach inhibits weight loss. I have heard that dieting and dramatic weight loss can cause your body to drop your metabolic rate because it thinks you are starving to death ... but so long as you are working out and demanding energy and replenishing it, your body shouldn't do that.

Maybe the article you read was pointing out that aerobic exercise (as far as I know--I will look it up) isn't pure fat-burning---it draws on fat but not exclusively, so aerobic exertion to lose weight will probably be more efficient ir there are carbs available---but that is mostly for people doing a 30-45 minute-workout, not a two-hour ride.

The most important issue to me is motivation. Everyone is gung-ho about weight loss for the first week or two. You have found a program which you find gratifying and with which you can stick over the log run, which is exactly what works best ... not endless fad diets and three-week gym stints followed by gorging and laziness, which is what kills most people trying to lose weight.

Possibly a team of nutritionists, trainers, and physicians could devise for you the "optimal" "most efficient" weight-loss program, but if you hated it, you wouldn't do it. You have a method which works. Ignore the fat people giving you advice. (except me. )

As I see it ... what you are doing works for you. You have dropped 65 pounds in 11 months. You ride at a pretty good pace and do a good distance---you are obviously pretty healthy. Congratulations. You are doing better than I so far. How does it feel to suddenly become a role model?

Last edited by Maelochs; 05-29-16 at 04:58 PM.
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Old 05-29-16, 04:01 PM
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Protein shake (water or milk) and a waffle with honey, plainly because after a nights rest, your protien stores are burnt. Whey is quick assimilating and within a half hour you should be replenishing your muscles. Avoid the walmart SixStar/BodyFortress protein, if you want a good tasting whey, I think MusclePharm is the way to go. Musclepharm Combat 100% Whey at Bodybuilding.com - Best Prices on Combat 100% Whey!

On the other hand, a waffle is processed carbs, great for an extra bump, also quick.
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Old 05-29-16, 06:14 PM
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If I eat before a ride, I feel bloated and have no energy. I prefer to ride on an empty stomach and snack on energy gels as needed. (I prefer those stinger organic honey gels.)

(note: I'm a noob, and my longest ride is 50 miles. I didn't bonk and had plenty of energy afterward, but in general I only eat one meal a day, anyway, and have been doing that for 40 years, so YMMV.)
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Old 05-29-16, 06:21 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
Skipping breakfast is fine with short and/or low-intensity rides. If you really flog yourself, you'll drain your glycogen stores -- that'll make it harder to keep up intensity and will probably make you ravenously hungry, which can undo a diet in short order.
This.

I'll often ride for 30 miles on a cup of coffee, and then eat when I arrive at work. If you're worried about bonking, take a banana or clif bar with you to eat on the way.
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Old 05-29-16, 06:35 PM
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Originally Posted by PepeM View Post
I do two hour hammer rides in the morning without eating anything beforehand (or during.) Haven't died so far.
Easy way to loose weight. Exercise before the morning meal burns the fat and not the breakfast.
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Old 05-29-16, 11:49 PM
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No, breakfast is not necessary before an early morning ride, but it is essential after your ride. Eating as soon as possible after a ride will give your body the materials it needs to repair the damage (resulting in soreness) after your ride.

For best performance, I would eat several small meals per day, high in carbs, fat, and some protein. Knowing what to eat, and to keep my digestive tract consistently supplied made a noticeable difference in my performance.
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Old 05-30-16, 05:22 AM
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I have a 50 mile route I try to ride once a week. Prior to this year I have bonked or cramped on most every ride, this had always been without eating prior to riding. This year I have ridden the route three times, no cramps or bonking this time, the only thing different is I have eaten about an hour to hour and a half prior to starting out, may be a coincidence but it is enough of a difference I will continue to see if the result holds. These rides vary from 18 to 20+ mph avg. without stopping for a break, there are occasional stops for crossing traffic.
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Old 05-30-16, 05:41 AM
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Originally Posted by 02Giant View Post
... the only thing different is I have eaten about an hour to hour and a half prior to starting out ...
yeah, but for those uof us who ride very early mornings before work and other duties, that would involve getting up before we went to bed.

The issue is, for many people that morning meal doesn't digest really quickly, so your intestine is robbing blood and oxygen from your lungs and muscles. if I had an extra 90 minutes in the morning that'd be fine, but I have about an extra nine minutes. I can check the weather or answer a couple emails, but I don't have time to eat and digest.

After bonking enough to learn, now when I need to do a longer ride on an empty stomach, I eat half a Powerbar or sometimes a whole one halfway through the ride, before I fully run out of fuel. For most rides up to about that distance I might not need to. I usually get up at about 4:45 a.m. If I happen to wake up at 3 a.m. sure, I could eat ... but then sometimes I relax and fall back asleep and wake up too late to ride.

We are all different. mostly the best thing is to learn to listen to our bodies and react appropriately to whatever each situation demands.

If the OP can do what he does and lose that much weight, i'd say he has figured out a pretty good system.
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Old 05-30-16, 06:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
yeah, but for those uof us who ride very early mornings before work and other duties, that would involve getting up before we went to bed.

The issue is, for many people that morning meal doesn't digest really quickly, so your intestine is robbing blood and oxygen from your lungs and muscles. if I had an extra 90 minutes in the morning that'd be fine, but I have about an extra nine minutes. I can check the weather or answer a couple emails, but I don't have time to eat and digest.

After bonking enough to learn, now when I need to do a longer ride on an empty stomach, I eat half a Powerbar or sometimes a whole one halfway through the ride, before I fully run out of fuel. For most rides up to about that distance I might not need to. I usually get up at about 4:45 a.m. If I happen to wake up at 3 a.m. sure, I could eat ... but then sometimes I relax and fall back asleep and wake up too late to ride.

We are all different. mostly the best thing is to learn to listen to our bodies and react appropriately to whatever each situation demands.

If the OP can do what he does and lose that much weight, i'd say he has figured out a pretty good system.
I am up by 4:30 and typically riding by 5:30-:45
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Old 05-30-16, 09:45 AM
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Depends on the type of bike you're riding. If it's geared eat yogart or tofu stuffed bananas. If it's fixed you must eat a burrito and a 40 sometime before or during the ride.
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Old 05-30-16, 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by 02Giant View Post
I am up by 4:30 and typically riding by 5:30-:45
Must be nice to have so much time in the morning.
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Old 05-30-16, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by 02Giant View Post
I am up by 4:30 and typically riding by 5:30-:45
I have a similar schedule. I ride for an hour, rest at the beach for a few minutes watching the sun rise and then ride again until about 7:30. A second cup of coffee and a shower before booting the laptop for work. I've followed that pattern for so long I couldn't imagine not doing it.
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Old 05-30-16, 10:24 AM
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On Tours I made Breakfast My first stop, Washed up a bit in their WC while the food was being prepared.
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Old 05-30-16, 10:47 AM
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I think if it's really a concern, don't overthink it - just pop some nuts and maybe a banana or apple and be on your way. No prep needed. It doesn't have to be a full course meal.
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Old 05-30-16, 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by pat0115 View Post
.... I started bike riding to lose weight and I've lost 65 lbs in the last 11 months?....
Nothing succeeds like success. Obviously what you've been doing is working for you, and that would trump any general advice.

One test of whether your fuel reserves are adequate for your ride is if you see a drop in performance someplace in the 2nd half or feel super hungry at the end. If this isn't happening and you continue to drop weight and/or get stronger stay the course until you find a plateau, or your objectives change. I suspect that at some point you'll reach that point, and then you can experiment with a pre-ride snack. If time is an issue, especially if you, like me, like to relax over your 2nd cup of coffee, skip the meal and have something quick like an oatmeal cookie or two on your way out the door.
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Old 05-30-16, 01:42 PM
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Yesterday morning, I wanted to be away by 5am, so set my alarm for 4:20am.

That was more than enough time for a bowl of cereal, bathroom time and getting ready.

The breakfast element was all of about 5-10 minutes.
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