In the blogging world (at least among healthy living and running blogs), Wednesday posts are populated with WIAW (What I Ate Wednesday). If you want to know how I feel about a majority of those posts, you can read the discussion in Helly’s WIAW post here. Ever since Helly wrote that post over a year ago, I wanted to write about what I don’t eat and here I am finally doing it.
There are lots of things I don’t eat (such as mayonnaise, *shudder*), but I’m really here to talk about breakfast.
I don’t eat breakfast.
I used to be a habitual breakfast eater, but about six years ago I tried intermittent fasting, which is the idea that you eat during a certain 8-hour period and fast the rest of the time when I was experimenting with weight training and diet. Although there’s no rule that says you have to skip breakfast, most people do because that’s the easiest meal to skip. After the first few initials days of hunger, I quickly got used to not eating breakfast and realized that I liked not eating breakfast.
Not eating breakfast gave me more time in the morning because I no longer had to prepare and eat food. It made my mornings less hectic and gave me more time to savor my coffee.
I found it easier to regulate my body weight. Since I was eating one fewer meal, I was consuming fewer calories. The fears of being absolutely famished for lunch and unable to control myself were unfounded. Yes, I was hungry at lunchtime, but no more so than when I ate breakfast.
Of course, I do occasionally eat breakfast. If I’m hungry, I eat. Period. If I eat a lighter than usual dinner, I may wake up hungry the next day. If so, I have breakfast. If I know I’m going to do something strenuous later, then I’ll also eat breakfast. Going out for long hikes, long runs of 10+ miles, or any other activity that will keep me busy, on my feet, and go, go, go make me seek food in the morning. If I’m on vacation and the hotel offers a lovely breakfast buffet, you bet I eat breakfast.
Since I do most of my runs in the morning, this means that nearly all of my runs are fasted runs. I can easily run, regardless of the type of run (speed, tempo, or easy), with nothing more than water and a pre-run coffee for distances of 10 miles or fewer. Anything longer than 10 miles, I need to eat a little something or I get really hungry during the run.
I have a slow digesting stomach so I’ve learned that I need to eat lightly right before a long run. This means refined carbs and sugar. Cakes, muffins, croissants, and cookies are good pre-run fuel options for me. If I eat anything heavier than that, I get heartburn during my run. Did you know that bananas can give you heartburn? It happened to me twice.
Because of my slow digestion, this makes racing in the evening interesting. I need to stop eating at least six hours prior to running. Anything less than that and I cramp up or get heartburn. In addition, I also need to make sure that lunch is not too heavy. Meals rich in protein require longer digestion time. I tried to race once after I ate a steak burrito for lunch. Despite the fact that there were almost 7 hours between lunch time and race time, I almost threw up while running. Ben likes to tease me by saying, “Oh, you’re racing in the evening, so you need to starve all day.”
Slow digestion works rather well for me when it comes to early morning races. I eat a HUGE meal for dinner. Sleep. Have a slice of cake and coffee for breakfast. And I’m good to go. I’m completely fueled up. I don’t need to try to choke down a bagel in the early morning in order to ensure that I have sufficient calories in me for race day.
Not eating breakfast works for me.
What do you not eat?
Be sure to check out this article, What These Runners Eat, written by my great PPTC teammate, Amy Sowder. The article features some of my fabulous PPTC teammates and the food runs that they go on (FYI, I went on the Women’s Day Run to Butter & Scotch and the dim sum run). So while I don’t eat before runs, I definitely eat (a lot!) after runs.