Eating before a workout

For those of us who exercise first thing, the ‘what should I eat before I workout?’ and ‘if I do, what is the best thing?’ are common questions. On one hand, we want to fuel our training session so that we get the most our of it, but at the same time, we certainly don’t want that ‘feeling full’ sensation that comes with eating too close to a training session. So what’s the best pre-game nutrition strategy?

Whilst most of us should forget about specific workout nutrition strategies, instead concentrating on getting most of what we need through a balanced diet, for those of us who exercise first thing in the morning, it is less about maximizing output and about something wholly more practical, such as not training on a full stomach – and it’s a delicate balance.

Early morning pre-breakfast workouts are commonly referred to as ‘fasted training’, in that the body has not received any food overnight and is in a fasted state. In truth, what we do first thing will not be truly fasted, as our bodies will have stores of nutrients from the previous day that we can tap into. So for those who prefer not to eat, that works fine, unless your workouts are prolonged or intense beyond the norm, you’ll have the raw materials you need to fuel your workout.

However, whilst many people fare well with fasted training, others do not, and report feeling light headed or weak if they do not have a little sustenance before they exercise. That’s fine too as this can work, but the dilemma here is that you do not want to eat too close to a workout or you’ll likely get indigestion. The option here is to exercise later in the day or to make a food choice that works well for you.

Ultimately, it will come down to personal preference and constitution. In both cases, caffeine is a popular and effective pre-workout choice, which many people find helps to accelerate their early morning workouts. For those who feel better when they eat something, here are a few suggestions that many people find palatable.

Fairly easily digested breakfast options for those who can eat 60-90mins or so before they exercise include:

– Eggs
– Oats
– Yoghurt with protein powder and berries
– A protein shake

For those who roll out of bed and throw their clothes on before heading to the gym, but feel that they need a little something to fuel their workout, these options are not overly taxing on the digestive system and provide you with a quick boost of energy:

– Amino acids (capsules of powder)
– Half an apple with some nut butter spread atop
– 30g of dark chocolate and a small handful of nuts
– A teaspoon of coconut oil