Is it harmful to run before breakfast? - Couch to 5K

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Is it harmful to run before breakfast?

sigasiga
sigasigaGraduate

I read recently that it's not a good idea to run on an empty stomach because it can lead to muscle wastage, especially for older people, of whom I am one. I presume the theory is that the body takes energy from your muscles if you haven't eaten. Since I started running last February, I've almost always run first thing - get up, run, shower, breakfast then on with the day - and I haven't noticed any ill effects. Any thoughts on this?

19 Replies
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UnfitNoMore
UnfitNoMoreAdministrator

The running takes glycogen stored in muscles for about 60-90 minutes and then makes more from blood sugar and carbs, and then fat. I’m thinking it would have to be a long run to do harm. Most runners eat little or nothing if running in the morning.

sigasiga
sigasigaGraduate
in reply to UnfitNoMore

Thanks - that makes good sense to me.

UnfitNoMore
UnfitNoMoreAdministrator
in reply to sigasiga

The theory and I agree... it takes energy from the muscles😂. Dunno where else it would come from.... your body will fuel with the fastest method... turning a banana into sugars and then glycogen isn’t as fast as using the glycogen that was already there.

Ok... if you run a marathon on no breakfast you’re gonna hit a wall earlier than 20 miles, but I assume all marathon runners know about these issues.

I’m assuming the article used a very small sample and someone had an undiagnosed medical condition causing their results... or the test runs were stupidly long... of they went on blood samples and saw depleated sugars, and didn’t understand that this is normal as fat takes 40 chemical reactions to turn into sugar, sugar takes one, maybe two to become glycogen... so in the absence of carbs, blood sugars would dip. Maybe somebody was prediabetic?!

sigasiga
sigasigaGraduate
in reply to UnfitNoMore

Thanks for taking the time to reply. The article isn't specifically about running but about exercise in general, particularly for people wanting to lose weight, and yes, I think it only used a sample of 12 people so not really representative. I have no intention of attempting a marathon! So I'll just stick with what I've been doing ☺

UnfitNoMore
UnfitNoMoreAdministrator
in reply to sigasiga

Ah... maybe they’re saying people who skip breakfast? Skipping breakfast causes weight gain for one of two reasons... either you go on to snack all day and overeat, or you don’t eat enough, your body goes into starvation mode and stores everything it can as fat. Either of these I could see being massively magnified by taking exercise.

Oldfloss
OldflossAdministrator

Hopefully not.. been doing it three times a week since 2015... ( I am 68 now)...om a cup of tea and two light digestive biscuits, about 45 mins before my run...:)

Breakfast is what I look forward to afterwards:) E,g. Avocado on home made bread toast... with a poached egg on top..yummy!!!

If you eat healthily and hydrate well all the time.. you should be absolutely fine...:)

sigasiga
sigasigaGraduate
in reply to Oldfloss

Thanks for that. I'll just carry on then - I certainly enjoy my breakfast when I get back!

IannodaTruffe
IannodaTruffeAdministrator

Not something that I have heard before, but my immediate response would be along the lines of UnfitNoMore

Can you give a link or reference to the article, please.

sigasiga
sigasigaGraduate
in reply to IannodaTruffe

It was in the Guardian on August 15th and is on their website under Lifestyle, then Health and Fitness. It's by David Cox and is headed Trainers rave about "fasted gym sessions" - but do they really help you lose weight?; so it's not specifically about running but refers to exercise in general.

There’s no way I could run after eating, so I hope that’s not the case! I have a bite of banana beforehand, the rest of it on the way home, then a lovely breakfast as a reward when I get there! 🏃‍♀️😋

Theziggy
TheziggyGraduate

They did an experiment which seemed to suggest that it was different for men and women bbc.co.uk/programmes/articl...

also here - webcache.googleusercontent....

sigasiga
sigasigaGraduate
in reply to Theziggy

Gosh, it's all very complicated! Thanks for the reference. As I'm not trying to lose weight, I'll just carry on with what I've been doing.

MadDave
MadDaveGraduate

I’m no spring chicken and find that if I eat within a couple of hours before running in the morning I’m likely to get a stitch. I’ll have a cappuccino to wake me up and make sure I’ve been to the loo before heading out. When I get back I’ll have a protein shake first, then a normal breakfast e.g. yoghurt with a banana & granola.

I’m advised the protein shake is important to build the muscle and reduce cramp.

That seems to be working for me!

59er
59erGraduate
in reply to MadDave

Protein shake? Mmmm - I might try that 🤔

MadDave
MadDaveGraduate
in reply to 59er

They’re not cheap - best value can be found at Home Bargains. They’re rated in quality by how much protein is in 25g of powder - go for at least 20g per 25g. The protein is in the form of whey powder which you mix with water. I find they fill you up - reducing carb cravings - and seem to reduce muscle cramps too. Good luck! 🥛

59er
59erGraduate
in reply to MadDave

Only water? What do they taste like? 😝

MadDave
MadDaveGraduate
in reply to 59er

They don’t taste great to be honest, and tend to be artificially flavoured e.g. vanilla. But it’s a quick fix that you can do in no time and then have something more tasty afterwards🍰

Theziggy
TheziggyGraduate
in reply to MadDave

I get a Kg bag online and use a banana and whiz it up and glug it down so not much 'tasting' done - I'm a veggie and go for the pea protein which is a bit less protein than the whey protein but not by too much.

MadDave
MadDaveGraduate
in reply to Theziggy

Good to know there are veggie alternatives to whey powder - I’ll look out for that.

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