Morning workouts aren’t for everyone, but for those of us who love them (or just love to get them over with early in the day!), deciding whether to eat breakfast before or after is a pretty common dilemma.
Head straight out the door for a morning bike ride without eating or drinking, and you may not have enough in the tank to power through it. That’s because over the course of the night your carbohydrate stores, which your muscles rely on for energy during exercise, have been used to maintain your blood sugar and provide energy to your brain. On the other hand, eating a full meal before working out could lead to stomach cramping, indigestion–or worse. (If you don’t know what I mean by “worse,” trust me, you don’t want to.)
The good news is, it’s possible to be properly fueled for a morning workout without the unpleasant side effects that send you running to the nearest restroom. It’s all about what you eat, and when you eat it.
Before Your Morning Workout
- 30-60 minutes before you lace up your sneakers, have a carbohydrate-rich snack, like a piece of fruit, a slice of toast with jam, or a low-fiber granola bar.
- Drink a tall glass of water to help digest your snack and rehydrate after those 8-12 hours of laying around.
- Avoid fiber and fat since they take more effort for you body to digest and can cause an upset stomach.
- If eating early in the morning doesn’t agree with you, have some applesauce or a small glass of 100% fruit juice. Just stay away from the more acidic juices like orange or grapefruit since they can irritate your stomach. You can also hydrate with a diluted sport drink instead of regular water. The added carbohydrates will help keep you going.
After Your Morning Workout
Enjoy a healthy breakfast that contains complex carbohydrates and protein within 1 hour following your workout. Doing so will replenish your energy stores and help build and repair muscle. Here are a few great post-workout breakfast ideas:
- A yogurt parfait with granola, fruit, and a sprinkle of nuts or seeds
- A smoothie made with yogurt, fresh or frozen fruit, and some avocado, peanut butter, flax, or chia seeds for a dose of healthy fats
- Oatmeal (made with milk for added protein), topped with dried or fresh fruit, nuts, or nut butter
- Eggs with sautéed veggies (think: spinach, tomato, caramelized onions), a slice of whole grain toast, and a cup of reduced-fat milk. Grab a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts if you’re still hungry.
Don’t sabotage your morning workout before you even get started. Eating the right things before and after will keep you fueled and help your body recover afterwards!
Do you exercise in the morning, too? What are some of your favorite workout-fueling foods?