Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A little clarity amidst the coffee and awesomeness....

You may recall that just a couple months ago, I waxed not-so-poetic on how delaying breakfast was floating my personal boat. Shortly thereafter, I began flat-out *skipping* breakfast in favor of waking up, downing some coffee with a sizable hunk of unsalted grassfed butter and coconut oil, and riding the fat-and-caffeine wave all morning. My mind is sharper. I feel great. I get shit done. Boom, and all that.

I love it. I can, however, see plenty of reasons why *you* might not love it. Maybe your insulin is not well-regulated. Maybe you are just different than me, and this ain't yr thang.

Whatever. Everyone's a unique snowflake, blahblahblah.

But.... It seems that, taking an utterly non-random sample of fit, awesome women in my CrossFit gym who have told me recently that they "love" the whole skipping-breakfast thing -- some for the mental clarity, some for the natural caloric deficit it can create if you are headed for more awesome body comp -- I hit a nerve with the original post. Some people seriously dig the idea.

And that's great, but....
Let's fully understand the limits of this deal.

There is one thing that, as far as I am concerned (and let's take a quick break here and make it clear that I am not a professional, so you are actually on your own in the big bad world, and this is not "medical advice"), you simply *cannot* do when skipping breakfast: work out and continue to fast after the workout.

It is fine to hit your morning workout fasted or fasted-plus-coffee, but for the love of all that is good and right and nutritionally sound, don't ever come home from that morning workout and continue to fast!!! Eat!

Your body is screaming for food post-workout, and I am not going to get into hyper-specific post-workout nutritional advice, but you must eat *something* after you work out. Yes, I think it is better if that something is clean, paleo, protein-filled, etc.and there are endless variations of that stuff, but, more generically, as a wise commenter just said on my blog: "You can't build a house without lumber."

And, as I understand it, were you to do as one person I know did and hit the gym fasted (plus coffee) and then come home and try to make it to lunch without eating, you would not merely be feeling like undernourished hell; you'd be potentially seriously compromising a lot of endocrine/hormonal angles in your body. Insulin, cortisol, thyroid function, etc. all take a dim view of starvation, and, when you go do something in a gym, particularly something as taxing as a CrossFit workout, and you try to go hours thereafter without eating, your body thinks you are on the Bataan Death March. It doesn't care that you are an awesome CrossFitter; it thinks you are starving.

So the bottom line of this is a small piece of bad news, people: you morning-workout folks can't really take advantage of all the benefits of skipping breakfast because you need to eat a meal after a workout.

And that meal, if you work out in the morning, is called breakfast.

So, pick your path, and act accordingly, but some things just don't go together: and working out in the early a.m. and eating for the first time at lunch are two of those things.

Everything can't work for everyone.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


  1. Great blog! Thanks for the clarification! I can take advantage of it on my "off-days" and the weekends when I eat later. I am going to miss those super, focused mornings...well until my stomach was in knots and I just HAD TO EAT. Another thing that I learned, listen to the body. It is always communicating.

  2. Great blog. Personally, I cannot function without breakfast. But I have been hitting the bulletproof coffee and my mind is sharper.

  3. An excellent piece of advice for this is what Keifer (Carb-Back loading) prescribes. For morning workouts, have nothing but coffee / caffeine prior to - hit the gym hard, then post workout down a very ripe banana or 2 (maybe even a shake with some whey and/or creatine and/or MCT oil (coconut milk / cream is perfect) and/or creatine). Breaks the fast, gives you a quick insulin spike within the PWO window (and nourishes your muscles) then allows you to move back into fat burning mode. Back this up with a high fat/protein lunch and you are good to go.

    Another option with the PWO shake is to have some more coffee / caffeine to increase fat burning. However, do not mix caffeine with creatine as it negates the benefits of the creatine.

    Food for thought... google it if you need to (carb Back Loading)