No one would ever question the value of eating breakfast, regardless of who you are when it comes to fitness, especially as an athlete trying to perform at their peak levels. However, the notion of eating breakfast deserves attention and scientific merit to be readily advisable and the answer isn’t necessarily black and white in this case
What do the leading nutritional authorities say…
According to the ISSN, eating more calories at breakfast with higher amounts of quality protein can promote better weight loss and body composition results. This speaks to a large number of athletes since many struggle with weight issues in our current society and I’d imagine just about everyone wants to maximize their body composition, right? Cortisol levels naturally peak in the morning and are responsible for waking us up, a predictable response known as The “Cortisol Awakening Response” (CAR). This response can hamper appetite from what I’ve seen,
but the proposed benefits of breakfast nutrition are there, so athletes need to somehow mentally condition themselves to create a habit of eating breakfast to reap the rewards.
Overall, missing breakfast occasionally isn’t going to kill you and research supports that overall levels of calories and macronutrients reasonably distributed throughout the day is more important than nutrient timing, contrary to popular belief. 1 Please keep in mind that much of what you eat will be stored for later rather than being immediately used as energy.
The one exception to the rule
The exception here could also be early morning cardio or active recovery bouts. Fat burning will be high since intensities are low, and there is an abundance of this energy type to draw from indefinitely, so breakfast certainly won’t be necessary here. The true pick-me-up effect can come from early morning workouts, which naturally serve as a metabolic boost to get the stay started. Moreover, the pick-me-up has been known to carry on and impact the remainder of your day positively as well.
#1-Kerksick, Chad M., et al. “International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: Nutrient Timing.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, vol. 14, no. 1, 2017, doi:10.1186/s12970-017-0189-4.