The Importance of Breakfast: For Educators
THE IMPORTANCE OF BREAKFAST
Eating breakfast before exercise boosts performance by “priming” the body to burn carbohydrates during exercise and more rapidly digest food after working out.
STOP AND READ THIS BEFORE CONTINUING
If you’re someone who eats breakfast regularly, you may skip reading this topic. However, if you are someone who regularly skips breakfast before heading out the door, then it’s time to change this habit. Read the topic and complete the assignment, “Get Your Breakfast Habits.”
Most Teenagers Skip Breakfast
When it comes to teenagers, statistics show that they may not consider breakfast the most important meal of the day. Nationally, approximately 60 percent of high school students skip breakfast each morning, and 14 percent of them do not eat the meal most or all days of the week. Skipping breakfast poses a significant threat to cognitive performance. As for the athlete, research shows us how eating before a workout impacts your performance.
There have probably been days where you’ve woken up and skipped out on breakfast before heading out the door. Maybe you were in a rush and didn’t have time to whip something up, or perhaps you just weren’t that hungry. But there’s a reason breakfast gets nicknamed “the most important meal of the day,” and a new study published in the American Journal of Physiology only confirms this.
Researchers from the University of Bath’s Department for Health studied how eating before a workout impacts your performance as opposed to fasting overnight by splitting their subjects into three groups:
- One that ate a breakfast of porridge made with milk and cycled for 60 minutes two hours afterwards.
- One that ate the same breakfast but rested for three hours instead of working out.
- One that exercised without eating breakfast.
What Does This Study Mean for Athletes?
By testing the participants’participants’ blood glucose levels after they worked out or rested, the researchers found that eating breakfast “”increased the rate at which the body burned carbohydrates during exercise, as well as increasing the rate the body digested and metabolized food eaten after exercise, too,”” according to a press release.
Translation? Burning carbs can give your endurance performance a sharp boost, according to Javier Gonzalez, Ph.D., senior lecturer at the university’s Department for Health and co-author of the study.
“Carbohydrate is a relatively fast fuel since energy can get generated twice as quickly than when fat gets used as a fuel.” That is part of the reason why when we ”hit the wall” — the barrier that blocks you from performing as hard as you want in the later stages of a workout or competition — and run out of our glycogen stores. The outcome: we have to slow down our training pace to a level where fat can supply energy.”
If you’re not eating breakfast, your body burns fat as fuel instead of carb stores. But when this happens, it takes twice the energy, which slows you down, according to Gonzalez.
Should You Still Eat Breakfast Even If You’re Not Training?
Fueling your morning isn’t just useful when it comes to training. According to Gonzalez, “there is some evidence that breakfast consumption can assist with concentration,” so eating when you wake up on off days can benefit you at work or at school, too.
The Bottom Line
While this study was indeed limited — only 12 men participated — “there is no reason to believe the responses would be drastically different [in females],” Gonzalez says. So if you want to be at your best, breakfast is a critical factor in your performance nutrition plan.
- Plain, C. (2017, December 5). Helping Rural Teens Eat Enough Breakfast. Retrieved from www.sph.umn.edu
- Robert M. Edinburgh, Aaron Hengist, Harry A. Smith, Rebecca L Travers, Francoise Koumanov, James A. Betts, Dylan Thompson, Jean-Philippe Walhin, Gareth A. Wallis, D. Lee Hamilton, Emma J. Stevenson, Kevin D. Tipton, Javier T. Gonzalez. Pre-Exercise Breakfast Ingestion versus Extended Overnight Fasting Increases Postprandial Glucose Flux after Exercise in Healthy Men. American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, 2018; DOI: Retreived from www.physiology.org
- University of Bath. “Eating breakfast burns more carbs during exercise and accelerates metabolism for next meal.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 August 2018. Retrieved from www.sciencedaily.com.