We have always been told that eating breakfast is important. In fact, we’ve been told that it is the most important meal for the day. And while there will always be a debate about whether fasting in the morning is good for weight management, there is scant evidence that not eating breakfast is beneficial for athletes.
Here are just some of the reasons that athletes shouldn’t skip breakfast.
You will feel lethargic over the course of the day. When it comes to nutrition tips for college athletes, there are fewer things that unite sports nutritionists faster than the importance of breakfast. Among the reasons they cite for fueling early (and often!) is increased energy levels over the course of the day. Seems like a total no-brainer, but breakfast literally fuels you, both in the gym and in the classroom and workplace. Without that glucose your brain and muscles are stuck in first gear, with your body’s metabolism stuck at a crawl.
Your workouts will feel harder. There are fewer things more frustrating for an athlete than having a regular workout routine feel harder than it should. But this is exactly what happens when we skimp on eating breakfast in the morning. Rate of perceived exertion and increased heart rate are consistent outcomes for athletes whom skip on eating breakfast in the morning.
Even your PM workout will suffer. A study done at the University of Loughborough found that even after eating a big lunch, athletes who skipped breakfast still performed 4.5% on a stationary bike time trial compared to those who ate in the morning. This goes to show that performance in the gym goes beyond just what we ate at our last meal, but how we have been treating our bodies from the time we woke up. The researchers hypothesized this was because the body hadn’t yet recovered from being in “idle” over the first half of the day.
You will over-eat like crazy at night time. When we start the day off with a big workout and not eating we put ourselves into a massive calorie deficit right off the bat. As the day goes on, and we struggle to catch up to refuel ourselves, we are able to avoid over-eating due to work and school. It’s at night-time, when we are idle, that the calorie deficit we created earlier in the day comes home to roost. Athletes who skimp on breakfast tend to turbo-load on carbs late in the evening.
Cognitive function is harder too. One of the sneaky reasons that students have a hard time focusing and concentrating in the classroom is because they have skipped breakfast. Study after study, from elementary to university-aged students has found a significant correlation between eating breakfast and academic performance. Which makes sense, if you think about it—if your energy levels are running on fumes, and your brain is not exempt from requiring glucose to run effectively, performance is going to suffer.
Source: Why Athletes Should Not Skip Eating Breakfast, YourWorkoutBook.com