Q: Due to my work schedule, I am only able to work out in the mornings. Since the Honorable Elijah Muhammad said it is best to eat between 4-6 p.m., is it safe to do heavy running on an empty stomach? If not, can you suggest something light I could (or should) eat in the mornings?
AM: The most important thing to do after a workout is to drink water. People fall out or feel tired after a long day or during a workout in the morning because they haven’t replenished the fluids they lost and may have a mild bout of dehydration. You need a glass of water, not a sandwich–unless you have some other health issue. Most of us have plenty of fat stored in our body that we can function quite well without food for a 24-hour period, as long as we have water. “How to Eat to Live” does not advocate drinking juices or snacking between meals.
I will not tell you what to eat or not to eat (Allah (God) has already done that through the Honorable Elijah Muhammad with his “How to Eat to Live” books), but I can share my experience of working out in the mornings. I drank water before and after my workout and during the day at work. I rarely had a problem. The only time I felt tired was when I either didn’t drink enough water or I didn’t get enough rest.
Fitness trainer Jorge Cruise also emphasizes the importance of sleep in helping to repair and develop firm muscles in his book, “8 Minutes in the Morning.” He states in Chapter 5 on page 46: “In addition to diet and exercise, sleep is one of the most important components of a long and healthful life. If you get too little sleep, you eat more just to stay awake. Ã‰ But the worst effects of sleep deprivation have to do with growth hormone levels. Growth hormone affects your body’s proportion of fat to muscle, as well as repairs muscles while you sleep. If you don’t get enough sleep at night, your daily exercise session will feel harder than it should. You’ll have a harder time building muscle and keeping fat at bay.”
Furthermore, in the book entitled, “Fit for Life II: Living Health” by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond, the authors stated on page 183: “But keep in mind that when you awaken in the morning, you have a full complement of energy stored from the night’s sleep. So, morning is when your body is physiologically best equipped to engage in and reap the benefits of exercise–in my opinion.
Ideally any exercise, no matter of what type, will be most beneficial when your stomach is empty of all food.”
It is possible to workout in the morning, drink water and have a productive day until dinner, because I have done it. After having rested for 6-8 hours, I don’t think you will use up all of your energy or fuel in an hour workout. Keep in mind that eating also takes a lot of energy because of the digestion process. Make sure you have a nutritious meal or you won’t have the energy to do much if your body isn’t properly fueled. You know your body best.
If you eat a well-balanced meal the day before, have enough rest and drink water before, during and after your workout, will you be able to be productive until around 4 p.m.? Only you can answer that question.
Please consult a physician before beginning any new diet or exercise program.
(Audrey Muhammad is a certified personal trainer and aerobics instructor. She is the author of “The Sister’s Guide to Fitness” and creator of the KIBOS exercise video and the Get Fit to Live KIBOS Challenge. Questions and comments may be sent to [email protected].)