What am I supposed to eat before my morning cardio? some people say nothing as its better fat burning.  Some say just have a coffee as that helps fat burning. If I eat, what can I eat?  Can you help.

There is such varied opinion and research on this topic that it is a hard one to answer.  So let's look at a few of the theories.

Eat a very small something before working out:  This one is supported by one well known nutritionist that I know of, the reason behind this is to pretty much wake the body up and tell it that it's time to start using energy.  And this small something was literally a very small something, this nutritionist mentioned even something as small as a strawberry with a tablespoon of yoghurt.  Some research has also suggested that men do well having something to eat before training.

Eat what you prefer to burn before working out:  Research popped up earlier this year saying that if you start the day with the fuel you prefer to burn then you will burn it preferentially for the day.  So that means if you want to burn carbs, then eat a higher carb breakfast, or if you want to burn fat - go for the protein/fat option.  You'll find many people will just have a small protein shake in water before training - this doesn't have such a huge spike on insulin, but can provide a little extra energy to work harder.

Eat nothing before working out:  This is based on the theory that glycogen is depleted therefore the body has to derive it's energy straight from body fat.  However, it takes a couple of days of starvation to fully deplete glycogen, unless of course your diet really is tight enough that you are just eating enough to refill glycogen and then deplete it during the day.  A large body of research shows this is an effective way to burn fat in the morning.  Me personally...I just don't have time to wait an hour for food to digest before cardio, so I go empty stomach, and if that's helping my fat burning...great!  Eating nothing seems to be the most popular choice

But a word of caution - if you are susceptible to hypoglycaemia, I recommend you either do your cardio later in the day when you are fuelled up, or try a small amount of straight glucose before cardio (like a barley sugar)

Have a coffee before working out:  This has a couple of benefits.  Drinking coffee assists in releasing free fatty acids into the blood stream for oxidisation.  Secondly, it raises adrenalin which also helps with fat burning, but also gives us a kick that can make us work harder and burn more calories.  However, drinking coffee on an empty stomach for an adrenalin burst can fatigue the adrenal glands and over time can result in adrenal fatigue (particularly if you are also a stressed person).  Adrenal fatigue isn't pretty.  I used to do the coffee before cardio thing...but decided my long term energy levels were a bit more important.  By the way, energy drinks and coffees loaded with sugar don't come into this category, you will spend your whole workout burning off the sugar.

And of course, don't forget about the good ol' daily deficit.  If you are still eating more calories than you expend, or if the calories you are eating aren't clean then you are negating the whole effect of those early mornings.

28 Oct 10

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