But while skipping simple nutrition pre-workout can reduce the quality of your movements, eating too much can leave you feeling cramped and bloated.
However you choose to fuel up in the morning is personal preference, but skipping a quick meal isn’t always an option. For maximum results, you want to give your body quality nutrients from which to feed. Always prepare the night before when you can for ease and more time in the morning.
Some quick tips: Eat about 20–30 minutes before your workout so you have enough time to digest. This meal will be simple, and on the smaller side. It’ll be just enough to give you adequate fuel for approximately 60–90 minutes. If your workout will be longer or more strenuous than normal, you can easily add in more of the foods listed to give you a longer punch.
Linda M. Stephens, M.S., is a N.A.S.M.-certified personal trainer, nutritionist, and IFBB Pro Athlete. Read more of her work at her website.
Grab your shaker cup and add one scoop of whey protein powder, 1/4 cup or 1/2 cup of dry oats, cinnamon to taste, and one teaspoon of glutamine and/or creatine for extra power. Add water or almond milk, and shake vigorously. Let it sit for about 2-3 minutes. Shake again, and down it. This will digest easily, and the oats will give you lasting power during your workout. You can also add in instant coffee to add a little zip to your step.
The night before your workout, prep some scrambled or hard-boiled eggs, and cut up 1/4 cup of avocado. In the morning, spread the avocado on the toast or wrap, and then add the eggs. This will give you quality absorbable protein, fat, and carbs to keep you going strong.
To make your morning exit seamless, try making this little gem the night before your workout. Take a whole-wheat tortilla wrap, and spread about a tablespoon of natural nut butter of your choice over it. Slice up a banana, and place over the tortilla. Roll it up, and tuck in the ends. This is a great way to fuel and go as you head to the gym. You can make several at a time to be ready for a power-packed week.
No doubt there will be mornings when the stars just don’t align. You wake up late, don’t have time to prepare, and you didn’t prep anything the night before. A quality protein bar goes a long way when fuel is needed fast. (Just make sure it doesn’t have too much sugar, or you could end up undoing your hard work.) One caveat: drink about 8oz of water with it. This will ensure you have enough energy to make it through your session.
Whatever your “go-to” is before your early a.m. workout, make sure the carbohydrates are simple—your body will break them down quickly for a fast jolt of energy. Some great options: bananas, fresh fruits, dried fruits, white rice, white potatoes, jam on toast, maple syrup, or honey drizzled on any of the above foods. You can add in some nuts, cottage cheese, or Greek yogurt for more calories.