Last week I wrote about how to fuel your day for a late afternoon/early evening workout. Click here if you missed it. I have since received a lot of emails asking me questions on what to eat if you are working out first thing in the morning.

You may have read elsewhere that you should not eat before a morning workout but everyone has their own theories and I always recommend that people have something to eat in the morning before a workout, even if it is something very small. Your body needs fuel and most likely your last meal was dinner the night before, which means your body has been in a state of fasting for over 12 hours.  

The key to weight loss is balancing out your blood sugars and to do that you need to eat within 20 minutes of waking up.  If you wake up, head to the gym, workout, go home, have a shower, get ready for work then finally sit down and eat breakfast you most likely have been awake for over two hours now without putting any sort of nutrition into your body. This will cause your blood sugars to drop, slow down your metabolism for the day and your body will constantly be feeling like it is trying to catch up from missing breakfast. And, as I wrote about last week, if you are not eating enough throughout your day you will be more likely to consume too many calories later on at night (binge eating).

What I suggest to my early morning clients is that they have a very small breakfast (snack) 20-30 minutes before their workout and then no longer than 30 minutes after they finish the workout they have a complete breakfast. The pre workout snack should be something that is quick to eat, easy to digest and about 150-200 calories consisting of carbohydrate and a little bit of protein and then your breakfast afterwards should be between 250-400 calories, depending on how long you worked out for and how many calories you are consuming each day.  Remember, your breakfast and your lunch should be two of your larger meals in a day and your dinner should be one of your smaller meals.

If you are looking at doing a longer aerobic workout, such as a long run (if you happen to be training for an upcoming race) then it is very important that you have breakfast before your workout. This meal needs to be consumed at least 90 minutes before you begin to ensure that you will not experience stomach cramps while training.  I myself am in the process of just finishing up my training for the Boston Marathon and on Sundays I am running 2 – 3 hours so I must make sure that I am up and eating breakfast at least two hours before my run or else my run and my training will suffer.

Here are a few ideas that you can have before your early morning workout:

Half of an energy bar of your choice.  My favourites are the Vega Energy Bars as they are all natural and I also really like Cliff Bars. Eat half before your workout and then save the other half for one of your snacks later in the day or for your next pre workout snack.

Half of a banana or a small apple
(chopped) with a tablespoon of almond butter

1 piece of toast with ½ tablespoon of almond butter and some raw honey

A whole wheat waffle
as this is something that is easy to put into the toaster and eat it on the way to the gym. You could also spread a little almond butter onto it for some added protein.

Try and stay away from dairy first thing in the morning as the milk proteins are a bit harder for your body to digest and can cause cramping in your workouts. Also, make sure you have a big glass of water and stay away from coffee until after your workout! If you head right to work after the gym and you do not have time to go home to eat breakfast, pack a protein or meal replacement shake in your gym bag to have right after your workout or my favourite, two hard boiled eggs.  These are so easy to consume on the go and are a very healthy snack full of Omega -3 fatty acids.

Attached - Nikki Reed leaving the gym the other day.