One of the most common questions I get, especially for early morning workouts, is around found. Do you eat? Should you eat? What do you eat?
Twice a week during the off-season, I find the will to motivate and get up early for a gym workout. One is a 5:30 a.m. HIIT class and I rarely eat before that one. I just don’t have the appetite or the stomach fortitude to get up and eat and get out the door. The other day the workout is an hour later and I find that by that time I do want and need something to eat to really get the most out of the workout. Sometimes a little carbs are just as good as coffee at warding off the fatigue.
So, what are the best things to eat before an early morning workout?
In either case, super early or just early, portion size is key. I’m not eating a typical breakfast portion (for me) if the workout is in 60-90 minutes. The body just won’t have time to digest it. But if I do have a little extra time, a small portion of the right food is okay if I need it.
There are three things to consider if you are going to eat before your early morning workout.
First, it should be easy or very simple to make. I just rolled out of bed, I don’t need to read a cookbook. Ideally you’ve made it beforehand or don’t have to do anything more than pour or re-heat.
Second, it should be easy on the stomach. You need energy during your workout not a sloshing stomach or GI discomfort.
Third, you want to eat something with a mix of protein and carbs to give you energy for the workout not just fill you up.
Here are my 10 favorite things to eat before a morning workout:
Early-early morning workouts
- Half a banana with a spoonful of almond butter
- Half a mini bagel with a spoonful of cream cheese
- A hardboiled egg and a piece of toast
- A handful of cereal or granola
- Three medjool dates with a spoonful of peanut butter
Still early, but slightly later workouts
- Oatmeal with almond milk
- Protein bars (KIND or Clif)
- A smoothie made with a scoop of protein powder, milk (or almond milk), frozen fruit, and spinach
- A slice of toast with jam
- Cup of greek yogurt with fruit
No matter what time I’m working out in the morning, I always include a cup of coffee to get me moving. Ultimately if you eat or not before your workout is up to you. It’s important to listen to your body, however.
You may not think you’re hungry when you first wake up but then find yourself hungry or fatigued in the middle of your workout. Or ravenous afterward. If that’s the case, you might want to rethink your routine and try a few workouts with some food first.