Updated: Jun 6
In this new blog, Katrien and I will talk about the pros and cons of sober training, or the well-known fat run.
'fat burning run'
Before we go into more detail about this, I would like to emphasize that a fat walk (unfortunately) has nothing to do with the fat that hangs around our stomach, arms, buttocks etc. The name "fat" run refers to the type of macronutrient you will be consuming during your workout. When you walk after you have eaten something, your body starts to get energy from carbohydrates. If you go for a walk before breakfast early in the morning, your body will use the macronutrient fat. This is available in the body in large quantities, but your body has more trouble converting it into usable energy.
So why is it so interesting to learn to walk on your 'fats'? You can read more about that in the blog post below.
Lisa: I used to walk very often and I liked to walk sober. I love being outside before the world wakes up. Now I am too hungry in the morning when I wake up because I train much more intensively than before. Still, I try to go for a sober run at least once a week, so that my body stays used to running on fats instead of just carbohydrates.
Katrien : I am someone who likes breakfast; one of my favorite meals of the day. I also often choose to move in the morning before I start the rest of my day tasks.
I like to shake myself awake with a physical effort and first put my mind to 0 and go.
I'll usually eat something before exercising in the morning unless I'm absolutely not hungry or I know I don't have a hard workout planned. I prefer a light snack because in terms of timing I will not or can not always get up 2 hours before exercising. But I do want to make sure that my body gets the necessary dose of energy to make the physical effort.
What do you eat then?
L: For me this also depends a bit on winter or summer. In the winter the temperature doesn't play a role and then I eat a normal breakfast in the morning, wait about 2 hours and then go for a walk so that I am back just before lunch.
During the summer this is different, because I don't like walking in the heat. My to-go breakfast is either a rice cake with banana and nut butter, a homemade banana muffin or an energy bar from ETIXX. The portion depends on how long/heavy my training will be and also how hungry I am at that moment.
K: The choice of what to eat for my morning run depends on the mileage.
If I am going to walk 5/6 km (about 30 minutes of exercise), it is not a must for me to eat something and your body can safely rely on the carbohydrates stored in your muscles ("glycogen") or on your fat stock.
If I do go for a walk of 45/60 minutes, I opt for that light snack such as a rice cake with jam & a slice of chicken white or with peanut butter & banana. Sometimes I alternate with whole grain breakfast cereals & plant-based milk.
Walking longer than 60 minutes? Then I make sure I get up a bit earlier and I will opt for a bowl with oatmeal, piece of fruit, skyr & peanut butter. I make sure that I eat something at least 1.5/2 hours before training so that my food is digested before I start walking so that I can live on this source of energy.
I often also drank a coffee 30 minutes before running because this provides extra energy (and no, this does not have a diuretic effect) & I still have to wake up. But I do notice that my heart rate is already rising faster than.
L: I definitely recommend running on an empty stomach, especially for long distance runners. Since they are often on the road for so long that they cannot sufficiently replenish their carbohydrates, it is very important that their bodies know when it is best to switch to fats as their primary energy source. I do recommend building this up step by step and certainly eating a very good breakfast afterwards so that you do not end up with shortages.
K: Are you a recreational athlete and do you regularly jog for half an hour in the morning? Then it is certainly not a must to eat something in function of your sports performance. But do not believe that this is the way to burn the fats in the abdominal area. Unfortunately, that is not the “Quick Fix”.
Fat burning is an issue when you train at a low intensity. In other words, at a low heart rate or during long endurance training (such as cycling or long endurance).
For low intensity you can opt for a quiet interval training e.g. 2min walk at a pleasant pace keeping the heart rate low and then 1min walk. It's also a good way to build up your running if your fitness isn't perfect.
Are you going to walk longer distances? Then I do recommend eating something at least 1.5h-2h before the start of your walk, so that your food is digested before departure (then your body is not engaged in digestive processes while walking).
Better than the combination of slow carbohydrates + some fast carbohydrates (fruit, dried fruit or maple syrup) + some protein & healthy fats.
Learn to listen to your body too! If you really don't get anything in the morning, don't force it and it is better to build it up step by step or make sure you have eaten a healthy snack before going to sleep (Skyr with puffed spelt, nuts & fruit for example).
Feel what works for you. Depending on your sports performance, it is important to feel how much energy you have during your sports activity. Is this too little or do you notice that you have little energy, food can provide the correct supply of energy. Although there are many other things that play into your energy level such as sleep, stress, ….
As you can see, we (Lisa & Katrien) may also have slightly different dietary habits, which of course also has to do with the type of training and what works best for us as individuals.
Getting to know your body and seeing what works best for you is the key to success.