Grab your cheatsheet
Do you like to hit the gym while the rest of the world is still in bed? Or enjoy a sunrise run to start the day?
A morning workout is the only time you can fit your exercise into your busy schedule.
Knowing how to fuel your body for early morning workouts is essential if you're up before the sun.
Do I need to eat before a morning workout?
There is copious information out there about whether or not eating before a morning workout is necessary. Most people will generally feel the benefits of eating before a morning workout.
Your blood sugar level drops during sleep, which can cause dizziness and lack of energy. Only eating will replenish these levels, reducing fatigue and improving your training.
You might not want to eat before your morning workout for many reasons. Some people feel they can’t “stomach” eating breakfast early in the morning. There’s also the risk of overeating and feeling ill during your workout.
And while some studies are exploring the benefits of fasting, the science is minimal. Many studies have proven that fasting does not affect results, whereas eating before a workout can lead to longer aerobic performance.
Overall, most people will see benefits from eating before a morning workout. But this doesn’t mean you need a full plate of pancakes, bacon and eggs (although if that works for you, go for it!). A light breakfast might be all you need, depending on your workout.
What should I eat before a morning workout?
Whatever your workout, your sports nutrition plan should meet the basic macronutrient goals for general health. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle requires a balance of carbohydrates, protein and fats.
Ideally, your pre-workout breakfast will contain a mix of both carbohydrates and protein. Carbohydrates help boost energy levels and recover glycogen stores. And protein can support strength gains and aid glycogen restoration.
If you also have a little healthy fat in your pre-workout food, that rounds off a balanced meal. But fats take longer to digest, so that’s something to remember as it could affect your workout.
Does the type of morning workout change the fuel I need?
How you choose to fuel your early morning workouts depends on the type of training you are planning to do. Length of exercise and specific goals can change your approach to pre-workout fueling.
Studies have shown that for exercise that lasts for 60 minutes or longer, carbohydrates should be prioritised, along with protein. Alternatively, protein is more important for short-period training focusing on muscle building.
If weight loss is your objective, don’t think that skipping a pre-workout meal will help you reach your goal on the scales. Eating breakfast before a morning workout will not dampen weight-loss goals. One study found that while fasting may seem to increase short-term fat loss, it hinders long-term weight loss goals due to increased stress hormones. Instead, prioritize eating a high-protein breakfast before your morning workout, which can enhance weight loss.
Meal ideas to fuel your early morning workout
You should experiment with the size of meals and foods that work best for you. Ideally, you should eat 3-4 hours before exercising if you like to eat a larger meal and want to include carbohydrates.
On the other hand, if you prefer a smaller meal or snack, you can eat this 1 - 2 hour before exercising without affecting performance.
1. Wholegrain toast + poached egg
Consuming eggs as part of your pre-workout meal gives your body an incredible protein boost.
And opting for wholegrain toast provides carbohydrates, fibre and even more protein!
2. Yoghurt and berries
A snack of yoghurt and berries is a light option that still provides your body with protein (from the yoghurt) and carbohydrates (via sugar from the berries). Bonus points for gut-healthy bacteria and fibre too.
3. Protein shake
If you are looking for a light snack that is still high in protein, why not try a protein shake?
Our Crazy Nutrition Tri-Protein formula can provide energy and strength to your morning workout.
Ready for morning workouts?
Early morning workouts may suit your lifestyle perfectly, but knowing how to fuel yourself at that time can be tricky.
Eating before your training is important for both energy levels and recovery.
Experiment with what size and type of pre-workout fuel works for you, making sure there’s a good amount of protein in there and, ideally, some carbohydrates too.