fbpx Skip to content

Is Breakfast Important for Athletes?

Skipping your morning meal can affect performance later in the day.

Athlete preparing breakfast

Even if you plan on working up a sweat after work, it can be important not to skimp on the morning meal. In a study published in the European Journal of Sport Science, researchers asked a small group of highly trained cyclists to either skip breakfast or eat it as usual before performing a 20-kilometer time trial in the evening.

On no-breakfast days, participants consumed enough calories at lunch to equal the number of calories they consumed on days when they ate both breakfast and lunch. Yes, that was a big midday meal! But eating a morning meal helped the athletes perform significantly better during the time trial—including generating greater power output. The morning meal also helped lower the perceived effort needed for the workout.

Nutrient timing could influence how much muscle and liver glycogen is available for a hard workout later in the day, and/or starting the day with a morning meal may just set you up psychologically for success.

See also: Timing Breakfast to Optimize Performance

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

Related Articles