Exercising in the early morning has a ton of benefits – it wakes you up, successfully prepares you before you’ve fully started your day, and ensures you don’t forget to work out later. But then there is the problem of breakfast.
Do you to have eat breakfast before a workout?
No, but it helps. Some people find workouts on an empty stomach more difficult than workouts in which they have already eaten. Although it depends on the person, the training, and to some extent whether you have become accustomed to exercising on an empty stomach.
For an easy workout, like a light jog or a short lifting session, you might not notice a difference between training with and without breakfast. In this case, do what you prefer. But expect breakfast to help with:
- High intensity cardio or conditioning work, such as fast running or real high intensity interval training.
- Long workouts, especially those that last longer than 90 minutes.
- Any workout after which you tend to feel unusually tired, which can include heavy strength training.
If you have enough time in the morning, you can wake up, eat a normal breakfast, and then work out about an hour later. This routine works for a lot of people, but some of us try to hit the road or the gym as soon as possible after waking up. In this case, your choice of food matters more.
What’s the best thing to eat?
Carbohydrates provide fast energy, especially if you eat them in a form that your body can process quickly. This mainly includes sugar and starches, which are digested the fastest when they are do not combined with a lot of fat, protein or fiber.
In other words, it’s different from what a healthy meal would normally look like. You will have time after your workout for something that digests a bit slower. But if you have to eat right before a workout, go for something that’s mostly carbohydrates. Some traditional options are:
- A banana
- Oatmeal or oats for the night
You don’t have to eat purely carbs if you don’t want to. Feel free to put peanut butter on this toast if you like, or have a yogurt, which has both carbohydrates and protein. Experiment to see what strikes the sweet spot between carb-y and tasty.
What if I don’t want to eat carbs?
It’s up to you, but be sure to be aware of the potential effects on your workout. If you eat a keto or low-carb diet, it may be a good idea to put in some of the few carbs that you eat. to do eat right before your workout. And if you’re using intermittent fasting as part of a weight loss strategy, you’ll need to balance the pros and cons of having breakfast before working out. Again, a small snack can help you have more energy for your workout without totally derailing your diet.
Sometimes people train on an empty stomach because it “burns fat”, but that’s only true from a technical standpoint. If I want to keep more money in my bank account, I can pay cash for something rather than using a debit card. But at the end of the day, my money is still all my money, no matter how I made an individual purchase. Choosing one payment method over another doesn’t make me richer.
Likewise, “burning fat” during a workout does not affect how much fat you will have in your body at the end of the day. You can burn 200 calories of carbohydrate from your breakfast, or you can burn 200 calories from fat and then eat 200 more calories afterwards. Total calorie balance is what matters, not the metabolic details of the substrate your mitochondria munch on during a workout.
What if I can’t eat early in the morning?
There are a few solutions to this problem. First of all, you can be fine without breakfast; some people prefer to train on an empty stomach because it is easier, and they accept the slight fatigue. You can also consider waking up earlier to have time to digest a meal, or just rearrange. your training come later in the day.
But there is usually Something you can eat, if you want. Drinks are often easier to digest than food, so try skim milk or almond milk and consider using the sweet version (like chocolate milk) or adding something like honey for carbs. additional. I used to think that a “shake” had to be a big smoothie full of fruit, ice and protein powder and peanut butter, but these days my go-to before a workout. ‘workout is just a cup of chocolate almond milk, with or without whey powder, to start the day in protein.
If you really can’t eat before training, can you eat this? Long workouts can benefit from intra-workout nutrition. This normally means workouts that are longer than 90 minutes, but there is no law that prohibits you from bringing your breakfast for a shorter workout. If you run take a few gel packets used by marathon runners and endurance cyclists during the races. If you’re lifting, mix up a shake and bring it with you to sip between sets.
In the end, the best breakfast is the one you will only discover from experience. Don’t be afraid to try something new: If you’re currently training without breakfast, a few bites of toast ahead of time can make a difference day or night. Experiment and see what works for you.