Serena Williams says she doesn't always eat breakfast before working out, but experts say you probably should

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Serena Williams says she doesn't always eat breakfast before working out, but experts say you probably should
Bedder/Getty Images for IMG
  • Serena Williams said she sometimes doesn't eat breakfast in the morning if she forgets.
  • Health experts advise against skipping breakfast, especially before workouts.
  • Skipping breakfast can lead to sluggishness and even headaches or migraines.

Serena Williams isn't a big breakfast person, but that isn't necessarily an example her fans should follow.

The 39-year-old tennis star said she will sometimes skip breakfast if she forgets about it during an interview with Woman's Health.

"I often don't make breakfast because I just forget or I'm running around getting Olympia ready," Williams said. "When I roll out of bed [in the morning], I'm just not hungry."

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The decision to sometimes skip breakfast hasn't stopped Williams from being one of the world's elite women's tennis players. As an athlete, she's in a unique situation with her daily calorie intake and how her body responds to certain eating patterns.

But for those who don't play sports professionally, skipping breakfast could result in diminished performance in jobs and activities.

People who follow intermittent fasting diets often skip breakfast

Skippping breakfast is common in intermittent fasting, which Williams has practiced in the past, according to Yahoo. It's unclear if she still does.

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Intermittent fasting involves fasting during one part of the day (like the morning) and eating in another.

One of the common perceptions of skipping breakfast is that causes you to get even hungrier and binge eat later in the day. But in the case of athletes that follow intermittent fasting, that can be just what they're looking to do, according to registered dietitian Alix Turoff.

"For athletes, their calorie needs are much higher than a regular person," Turoff told Insider. "Once you're cutting out a meal, you have to get those calories in somewhere else."

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Williams' decision to skip breakfast likely indicates that her training schedule is later in the day, as workouts are performed better after a meal.

"You're going to typically have a better workout if you have some sort of fuel in your system," Turoff said. "She's probably in the minority as an athlete for not eating breakfast, but maybe she's training later in the day and she backloads her calories."

Just because Williams has found a way to make it work without eating breakfast doesn't mean other athletes, or even other non-athletes, should regularly skip it.

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"For the general population, it tends to wind up backfiring," Turoff said. "The majority of people do wake up and start to feel hungry, and then what they'll do is push off breakfast because they're trying to intermittent fast, and then they'll get to lunch and they'll over-eat because of it."

Breakfast can improve energy, mood, and mental dexterity

Eating breakfast regularly leads to improved energy, mood, and focus throughout the day, according to WebMD. The healthiest breakfasts often include fiber-packed carbohydrates and lean proteins to give the body the fuel it needs.

Skipping breakfast can have the opposite effect, leading to quicker fatigue and anxiety. It also may be associated with a higher likelihood of mood disorders, according to a study published in the journal Psychological Medicine.

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