What To Eat Before a Morning Workout: Nutrition for a New PR
If you plan to exercise in the morning, what you should eat beforehand depends on your goals, the type of workout you want to do, and your health. We can’t overstate the importance of choosing the right foods to fuel your sesh, especially if you plan to be at the gym for an hour or more.
After a long, sleepy night, your blood sugar levels are usually lower than when you last ate. This may cause you to feel groggy and tired during your workout — which, in turn, can lead to poor performance.
When you eat a small snack or meal before working out, you can benefit from more stable blood sugar levels and energy to power through your gym goals.
It may take some trial and error to find what works well for you as an individual, but we’ve compiled some of our favorite pre-workout snacks and meals to give you some inspiration.
What Should I Eat Before High-Intensity Cardio Training?
During high-intensity, short-duration cardio exercises, your body uses glycogen as fuel. There is enough glycogen stored in our muscles to sustain us for many hours without needing to eat. Most people have enough glycogen in their muscles to maintain a hard workout like that without needing to eat.
Some high-intensity workouts are:
- Indoor cycling
If you plan to exercise before breakfast, you may want to have a pre-workout snack that contains 15-75 grams of carbohydrates. This depends on your exercise preference and your upcoming session.
Doing this 30 to 60 minutes before exercising can help you achieve optimal results. Some snacks you can fuel up with include:
- Whole-grain toast with peanut butter or other nut butter, or avocado for healthy fats.
- Fresh fruit with granola
- A scoop of whey protein powder with water or almond milk
- Hard-boiled egg
Some people can get an optimal workout on an empty stomach with no issues. If that's you, keep doing it, but if you feel lightheaded, weak, or just hangry, it will be best to grab something to snack on before hitting it.
What Should I Eat Before a Moderate, Long Duration Workout?
If you plan to exercise at a moderate to high-intensity level for some time that spans 60–90 minutes, it's probably best to have a small pre-workout meal or a small snack. Some examples of moderate-intensity, long-duration workouts include:
- Running or jogging
- Mountain biking
When hitting the gym for a longer period, your body uses a mix of carbohydrates and fat to produce energy. Your body will burn fat slower than carbs to keep your muscles going.
Eat a small breakfast or snack that contains 15-75 grams of carbs and some protein. Eat at least 1-3 hours before you start your workout to give your body time to digest the food.
Some foods to consider include:
- Fruit smoothie made with a scoop of whey protein (milk or water)
- Cup of oatmeal ( and some fruit to it for taste)
- Bagel with some peanut or almond butter
- Scrambled eggs with some toast
What Should I Eat Before a Low-Intensity, Long Duration Workout?
Low-impact workouts aren't as demanding as running a marathon, so eating breakfast isn't always necessary. Examples of low-intensity, long-duration workouts include things like:
- Long walks
- Tai chi
- Vinyasa yoga, which is gentle yoga aimed at stress reduction
If you feel hungry during your workout, you may want to have a protein-rich snack before you start. This will help curb your appetite without making you feel uneasy. If you're feeling very hungry during your workout, you may want to have a quick snack to keep your stomach from roaring. Some foods to think about include:
- Boiled eggs
- Cup of cottage cheese
- Small protein shake with water
- Half a protein bar
What Should I Eat Before Strength or Resistance Training?
Strength training requires you to use more power during intense workouts, but you need less fuel in your tank than the other exercises discussed above.
Having a little breakfast or snack before a strength training workout can help you stay awake and perform for a longer period. You'll want to eat foods that contain lots of carbohydrates and protein for pre-workout fuel. Otherwise, you might get tired or dizzy to perform your best.
You'll have enough energy from the carbohydrates, and the high protein will help with muscle recovery and growth during and after your training session.
- Greek yogurt with fruit
- Protein shake with milk
- Turkey sandwich
- Egg sandwich
What Should I Eat To Lose Weight?
Contrary to popular belief, eating fewer calories before working out doesn't cause you to lose more weight. It may slow down your results. It may even hinder your weight loss efforts.
Athletes need to have enough fuel to perform at their best.
If you're one of them, you may not even need to eat food before your workout. When you decide what food to eat before you workout, it should be based on what you want to accomplish.
For breakfast, focus on whole foods like complex carbohydrates and limit processed foods.
Examples of nutritious food choices include:
- Whole wheat toast
- Oatmeal and other slow-digesting carbs
- Fruits and veggies
What Should I Eat for Muscle Growth?
You can build muscle by consuming a lot of protein and strengthening your muscles with different strength training methods. If you eat enough protein before you workout, you can gain bigger and stronger muscles. This is because it is important to combine eating plenty of protein with resistance training.
To build muscle, you must gradually overload your muscles by lifting weights or performing heavier workouts.
If you aren't properly fueled before you exercise, you may not have enough energy to cause your muscles to break down and repair themselves.
It's possible to build muscle by working out without eating food beforehand. Make sure you meet the daily nutrient intake requirements, including consuming enough protein.
It's up to you to decide what you like to eat. If you plan to eat before working out to build muscle, consider eating a small snack or meal containing carbohydrates and protein about 1-3 hours before your workout.
If you want to eat enough protein during the day to support the growth of your muscles, you should eat about 0.6-0.9 grams of protein per pound (1.4-2.0 grams per kg) of your body weight per day.
Quick Tips From Speede Fitness
Here at Speede, we are committed to supporting your wellness and fitness goals. Here are some of our top tips for success:
- Listen to your body. It is the best indicator of performance and if your healthy breakfast is truly fueling you for your workout. Try out different nutritional choices in the morning and see what feels the best. Switch your banana smoothie for a cup of fruit or jerky.
- Prep the night before. We can't stress this enough, make your mornings work for you, lay your clothes out and get your breakfast ready the night before, where you just get up and go.
It's up to you to determine which foods work best for you before a morning workout — everyone is different. When you find a nutritional breakfast or snack for your morning workout, your performance will reflect it.
Exercise Training and Fasting: Current Insights | PMC.
How to Keep Your Body Fueled for Long-Distance Riding | Cleveland Clinic.
Acute and Cumulative Effects of Vinyasa Yoga on Affect and Stress among College Students Participating in an Eight-week Yoga Program: A Pilot Study | NCBI