Wednesday, January 5, 2011

eating breakfast is for….losers?!

In certain cities, blizzards incapacitate citizens…in West Michigan, half the city was at the health club I work at while the snow continued to fall [thanks to those lovely NY resolutions]. I hope this means they’ll want nutrition counseling, too.


While we’re on the topic of gym-ming, I want to revisit the whole eating breakfast before exercising debate. I briefly mentioned this in an earlier post, asking you about your pre-workout eating routine.


Some of you may have seen this article in the New York Times by Gretchen Reynolds. While the article was carefully crafted, many people drew the conclusion that skipping breakfast before exercising was the best way to go (as evidenced by the article’s comment section).


After reading the actual study, here’s what I found interesting:

  • the number of study participants was small (n=28); they were also regular, healthy exercisers vs. obese individuals (who are also often insulin resistant).
  • the workouts implemented in the study were pretty intense: 60 minutes x 2 days/week + 90 minutes x 2 days/week of cycling and running; again, not something in which the casual exerciser could likely engage.
  • all 3 groups gained weight while consuming a high calorie (>30% caloric needs) and high fat diet (50% total calories), regardless of whether they exercised or not.
  • Good things: insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance were improved in the group that fasted before working out but not the breakfast before exercise group. However, both of these things should be fine if you’re healthy.


Wouldn’t it be more beneficial to eat a healthful diet and engage in regular, moderate exercise (let’s be honest…most people probably don’t run or bike for an hour at a time)? I doubt that eating breakfast before exercising will cause weight gain if one is not consuming excess calories. In addition, having low blood sugar before beginning a workout may lead to a pretty sub-par workout.

In all, I think that the breakfast thing is personal. If you can complete your morning workout sans breakfast without going into hypoglycemia, then kudos to you. If you can’t, I wouldn’t worry about turning into a donut anytime soon.

12 days new logo copy

Day 9: Send a snail mail thank you…

Although email is incredibly convenient, there is nothing like getting a handwritten note via the good ole postal system...I still keep a collection of letters from friends that are always nice to return to after a rough day.

Thoughts on this post are welcome, as always!



  1. thank for sharing the article, and commenting on the limitations! haven't read it myself. I have been MIA in the blogosphere, so I want to say a belated congrats for your job at the health club! Are you also teaching classes somewhere else? To answer your question from a while back, I will graduate my DI in May, but still have a year for the masters (graduate Dec 2011!). Goodnight Emily.

  2. I'm back! haha...just read your new years posts and got caught up on your life! saving that name! and congrats on the papers, how does it feel to be an author : )

  3. Great post!

    I always wait until after working out to eat breakfast. It is just something that I am used to and I have no problems running 2 hours on an empty stomach. It just works for me and I actually feel better when I do that.

  4. Food is totally fuel for my workouts. I can't get up and workout if it had been 12 hours since my last meal!

  5. I did read that article, and I appreciate what you wrote! :) I think it's ultimately very individual. During the summer I was running and doing a yoga and/or aerobics class every morning usually without eating. While I'd like to deny it, I have to admit that I don't always have as excellent workouts on a completely empty stomach. I like morning swim practices that way though - I never have an appetite when I wake up a 4am, and I seem to swim better most of the time. But I do have a hard time spinning for an hour on an empty stomach.

  6. I am with you on the sub-par work out. If I dash off to the gym after only having gulped down a cup of coffee while getting the kids off to school, or should I say when I do this! I do not get in as energetic of a work out as I do when i simple grab a kashi bar or a banana, just something.

  7. I love "I wouldn’t worry about turning into a donut anytime soon"

    Hope you get some great nutrition clients for the new year!

  8. I'll be one of your nutrition clients!! You're so knowledgeable!

    I need to get my thank you cards and write them. I don't know many people who still write them. Do you?

  9. Great post. Somewhere along the lines, at a CE event or other training I learned that you want to do this if it is in the morning because that gets your metabolism going, meaning you will more efficiently burn energy when you are working out. Not sure, but I may have picked this tidbit up at the CDR certificate in adult weight management program. So, the amount you burn is what is effected because the metabolism will slow at night while you sleep and stay slowed until you get it going again with something for it to process. I really wish i had the reference on that. Maybe I will dig through my office. I'll let you know if I find anything.

  10. There is no possible way for me to do a good work-out without a full stomach. the reason we eat is for fuel. I see no reason to wait until after your work-out to eat a meal. your metabolism is wide awake as soon as you get up anyways.

  11. Interesting thoughts on the article. A sample size of 28 is pretty small! Either way, I have to eat breakfast first. And I may have commented on this before but I LOVE your yellow coat!! Where is it from?

  12. Good article. I sometimes eat breakfast before I work out. It just depends on what time I start, how much I've had to eat the night before (sometimes I'm still full!) and how intense my workout is going to be.

  13. I totally believe it's the TOTAL number of calories you consume in a day vs the calories you burn that determine weight gain or loss.
    If I'm hungry, I eat. If my belly is too full to run, I wait :) I think that's just common sense. Lots of people are getting paid big bucks to do studies and write articles that can be summed up in 10 words or less :)

  14. I thought that was an interesting study too. Thanks for shedding some additional light on it!
    Love the photo of the glasses of Green Monsters:)

  15. I send snail mail thank yous all the time, e-mailing them is so lame.

    I'm glad you went and reviewed this study Emily, great idea. I should have done that myself because I read the article and thought it sounded crazy. 28 participants is NOT enough, and the actual amount and intensity is probably greater than a majority of people.....of course they never say that in the short articles! Thanks for the info. I'll continue eating my granola and drinking my coffee before my workout :)

  16. Thank you for your comments on that article. I always eat a small snack before I workout -- it energizes me so I can give-it-my-all at the gym. :)


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