By Nikki Reiter
We know that a reduced body mass leads to improved endurance performance (of course, to a certain degree) as it takes less energy to fuel and transport a lighter body. However, athletes must balance their weight loss goals with maintaining strong workouts and race performances.
A lot of research has been performed to report the benefits of eating breakfast. The populations vary from children and adolescents to fit and overweight adults, while the outcome measure (athletic performance, academic performance, weight loss) varies greatly as well. In order for a study’s results to be applied to you, you should match the study participants. So, I present a recent study investigating how skipping breakfast affects both evening exercise and overall weight loss – two common factors describing the running population.
Here’s how it went: Nine hours after waking 10 male habitual breakfast eaters underwent two maximal cycling time-trials. Breakfast was not consumed for one trial, while the other consumed a large breakfast (about 750 calories). Lunch and dinner energy intake were closely monitored and no food was permitted after dinner.
The result: Energy intake was 199 ± 151 calories greater at lunch after breakfast omission, however breakfast omission reduced overall daily energy intake. The fasted performances resulted in a 4.5% reduced performance in the time trial.
What this means: While a reduced daily caloric intake will assist with weight loss goals, participants who skipped breakfast experienced an impaired athletic performance later that day (after lunch, but before dinner).
A final comment: Would the same results be seen in women? Different populations? A relatively recent publication indicates that increasing breakfast calories (at the expense of reducing dinner intake) does a better job of losing weight – perhaps a combination of these two concepts is an ideal way to achieve body weight goals for performance.
Nikki Reiter is a Biomechanist and certified NCCP Performance Coach in Endurance Running. She offers online gait analysis through Run Right Gait Analysis. Visit her website www.run-right.ca for more information.