Eat Before You Exercise

We all have different goals. I will not tell you how or what to eat. I may offer suggestions however I have no way of knowing what your personal goals are, body type, fitness level, cardio fitness levels, etc. There are many reputable resources out there to help you on your way.

I have studied medicine (and in part, nutrition) for twenty years. Therefore, I knew better before I went out to exercise yesterday. Some people subscribe to the idea that if you work out first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, it will help you burn fat and lose weight. I have not personally performed research on this and do not have a proper answer for you. It is a good hypothesis, however what you eat the night before is utilized where the body needs then stores the remaining as glycogen in the cells. Your body can summon a small amount of sugar from the liver when you do not have a readily available amount in your blood stream. This small amount of sugar can quickly burn off and leave you feeling crummy and drained if you do not replace it with eating.

Last month, I ran my first half marathon. Thirteen point one miles. Yesterday I awoke, went about my normal stuff for Sunday and in the early afternoon, I set out to run another thirteen miles. I missed breakfast, I missed lunch. I ate a single banana, a cup of coffee and a scoop of protein.

All things considered, the environment was almost identical yesterday to my race a month ago. The temperature, weather, wind, elevation, time of day, and distance were all nearly identical. Only visible difference was that I did not eat an amount near what I typically would ( I can eat alot!!!).

I set out at a reasonable pace, one I knew I could maintain for thirteen miles without stopping. I reached six and a half miles and was feeling great. At seven, I began feeling tired. Mile eight I was feeling very tired. I paused before mile nine. Before mile ten, my hip flexors were yelling at me and I had to pause again. I was beginning to feel like garbage. The last two miles were a mixture of walk and run. I was throwing one leg in front of the other, stomping the ground, no longer light as a feather. I was not even looking up to see what was around me. I just wanted to get it over.

I made it to my destination. I checked my distance, time, and pace per mile. I had run two minutes and ten seconds slower per mile than on my half marathon race day. That equated to 28.17 minutes longer I was on the trail. Twenty eight minutes. If I had doubled my effort and decided to run a marathon, surely it would have been more than an extra hour of running; if I had been able to complete it at all.

Looking at all the variables, the only difference was I did not properly eat to prepare for my run. I had run out of calories, I had run out of fuel.

One hour after finishing my run, I began to feel so absolutely terrible. I was attempting to hydrate and replenish my fuel. My wife recognized the signs as she has run many a half and full marathon. I was uncharacteristically grouchy and irritable. She provided me with quick energy and some high calorie food. About three hours after my run, I was feeling significantly better. Five hours after my run, I was singing and dancing around, acting normally goofy.

In another post, I said we can all serve as examples for others, be it a positive or negative example. I would encourage all of you to choose wisely. One might fuel the vehicle before setting out for a long drive. We should fuel up our own engines. It will make the journey much more enjoyable.

Make it Fun.

God Bless.

3 thoughts on “Eat Before You Exercise

  1. Nutrition before and during an endurance event makes all the difference in performance and health. Nothing like being several miles from home (or an aide station) and bonking because of low blood sugar. Happy trails!

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