Eating Breakfast a critical component for rowers
Roll out of bed and eat breakfast? Yeah, right. Some rowers cringe at the idea of eating breakfast. Especially if they’re heading out for early morning practice or regatta. Fearing stomach cramps or “dragging” on the water, they skip breakfast and vow to make it up later. But breakfast is a critical component of the training and competition diet, much like using timber and newspaper to build the base for starting a fire. Similarly, breakfast primes the body for exercise, offering fuel (food) to the engine (body) for the work (exercise) at hand.
Let’s look at more reasons for eating breakfast:
Breaking the Fast
In a typical day, the young rower eats several times, in intervals of about 3 to 5 hours. Overnight the interval is longer because sleep cycles tend to be 6 hours or more (hopefully). The result is a long period of time without nutrition, leaving the athlete in a semi-starved state. Breakfast corrects this situation, hence the reference: “break” the “fast.” Research shows that skipping breakfast can have a negative impact on physical and academic performance, as well as behavior. Have you tried our porridge?
Breakfast offers a host of nutrients the rower requires for growth and development, but also supplies key elements for muscle repair, like protein, and replenishing the energy source in muscles (carbohydrate). Other nutrients, like iron and calcium, help the young rower avoid fatigue and build bones, respectively. Research tells us that when children and teens skip out on breakfast, their overall intake of important nutrients like these is lower. Adding insult to injury, meals and snacks later in the day may not compensate for the nutrient deficit.
Skipping may mean weight gain rather than weight loss
There is a belief that skipping breakfast will result in weight loss or weight control, especially among teens. But that’s not what the research tells us. Skipping breakfast can result in too much hunger and overeating later in the day. Poor food choices are taken when breakfast is left out. The meal is replaced by high-calorie, low-nutrient foods such as chips or sugary snacks. These do little to satisfy hunger or feed the body. Research has found that breakfast skippers are more likely to be overweight or obese compared to breakfast eaters. While this is unlikely for an active rower, skipping breakfast is a habit that can persist beyond rowing and into adulthood.
Anything is better than nothing
Eating something in the morning is better than eating nothing at all. However, over time, the finer details do matter. Rowers who choose donuts, sugary cereals and fatty foods may develop a strong taste preference for these foods leading to a nutrition habit that may be difficult to change. Rowers should work toward eating food that acts like premium fuel such as oatmeal with dried fruit and nuts, whole-grain cold cereals with milk, or whole-grain bread and waffles topped with nut butter.
In conclusion, there is no doubt that eating breakfast is a critical component for rowers.
written by Jill Castle MS, RD