Hello! So today’s question comes from Biff, and she would like to know, what is the best breakfast to have before training.
Okay so, Biff, what is the best breakfast to have before training? Now this is something I see a lot, I see it on Instagram, I see people talking about it. It’s probably one of the most popular questions that I’m asked as well, what should I eat before training, especially, what should I have for breakfast before training, or even just, what should I have for breakfast?
Now, I might ruffle a few feathers here, but I’m going to say that focusing on one meal in the day is probably not the best approach to have. This really falls into the category of something called nutrient timing, which is when do we have certain types of food during the day. And a lot of people get hung up on what I would call the small details, things like, what should the composition of your breakfast be? Should there be more fat in there, more protein in there or more carbohydrates in there? And that is a sort of great debate in itself within the industry. Lots of people like to have a protein and fat-based breakfast, other people like to have carbs at breakfast. I like to have all three, just putting it out there.
What I’m trying to say is, if you were going to draw a pyramid of what is most important, nutrient timing is way up here in the top of the pyramid, so to be honest, when it comes to choosing what kind of breakfast you want to have before training, it doesn’t really matter. I honestly think what you need is what is the best breakfast in terms of the whole day, what is my total calorie expenditure for the day, what is my total calorie intake for the day.
So what you need to do, if you’re doing a fat-loss program, or if you want to lose a bit of weight, tone up, is to again split your meals into four, I think that’s the easiest way to space them throughout the day. I don’t mean four proper meals, I mean like three main meals that you would have normally, maybe a post-workout snack if you wanted one, or something in the morning or the mid-afternoon. Just divide your total calorie intake by four, and let’s say that you are dieting, let’s say that, for example, you have 2000 calories a day and you have 500 calories in the morning for breakfast, however you want those 500 calories to be made up is absolutely fine.
Now, if you’re training in the morning, you may find you don’t actually want to eat, and that’s not a problem. Some people will say you have to have breakfast, it’s the most important meal of the day, and really, that’s not true. So yeah, just said that. Breakfast is not the most important meal of the day, it’s more about your total calories.
Total calories still win, and they still win over what composition those calories come from, what you eat for breakfast, what you eat for lunch, what you eat in the evening. Obviously you can have healthy choices, but seriously, you could eat a slice of pizza for breakfast, and still lose weight. So it really doesn’t matter.
So Biff, what I really think you mean, is you’re going for an overall approach to perhaps tone up and lose a bit of weight. What we know to create prolonged fat-loss is that you need to be in a hypocaloric state. So you’re either eating fewer calories than you burn off, or you’re using exercise to create more output to create the same effect, the same calorie deficit.
So, breakfast can really come down to whatever you want to eat for breakfast, and you don’t even need to eat breakfast if you don’t want to. So you could have anything you wanted. But if I was going to not shirk the question and actually give you a proper answer, then I always think that starting the day with some kind of good protein source, good fat source and some carbohydrate if you wanted, it really depends on your training needs. That’s absolutely fine. I like to have some scrambled eggs with a bit of butter. And I tend to have carbs if I’m going to train that day as well, if I’m not going to train then I won’t bother with the carbohydrate. And of course your carb choice comes down to how much you are going to train, how much you train during the week, and to be honest, whether or not you want to have them.
So to sum up, nutrient timing, choosing what kind of food to eat at certain times of the day, revolving around your exercise, is very much a strategy that probably applies more to people who are bodybuilders or elite athletes. So you don’t really need to worry about that. You just need to worry about your total calorie intake during the day, and however you want to space that throughout your day around your workouts is absolutely fine. If you also don’t want to eat breakfast before you got to the gym in the morning, that’s also absolutely fine, so yeah.