What to eat before a morning gym session to maximize your workout

While not everyone is a morning person, the morning is a great time to work out and can provide several valuable benefits.

But for some people, knowing what to eat ahead of time (or whether to eat at all) can be a bit confusing.

Here, ex-Marine turned personal trainer Patrick Dale, of The physical form was revealed a helpful guide on what to eat to fuel your morning workouts and maximize morning energy.

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morning workout
Early morning is an ideal time to train and can provide several valuable benefits. (Stock)


when you eat carbohydrates, they are broken down into glucose which acts as an immediate source of energy, and any excess is converted and then stored as glycogen. Since glucose and glycogen are needed to fuel you throughout your workout, carbs should be the mainstay of your pre-morning workout meal.

Because there won’t be much time between getting up and starting your workout, you need fast-acting, easy-to-digest carbs. This means you should choose foods that rank moderate to high on the glycemic index chart. The glycemic index chart ranks carbohydrates from 1 to 100, with 100 being the fastest acting. Moderate to high glycemic index carbs are easily digested and raise your blood sugar quickly.

Here are examples of moderate to high GI foods:

  • Appointment
  • breakfast cereals
  • White bread
  • ripe bananas
  • White rice
What should you eat in the morning if you train? (Getty Images/iStockphoto)


Although you can simply eat carbs pre-workout, some research suggests combining carbs with protein will have an even better effect. Consuming carbohydrates with protein provides energy and may also help prevent muscle breakdown.

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Avoid fatty foods

Fat is the most important gastric inhibitor, which keeps food in your stomach longer and delays digestion. As such, your pre-morning workout meal should be very low in fat, not even healthy fats like olive oil, flaxseed oil, or coconut oil. Also avoid natural sources of fat, such as nuts and whole eggs.

low fiber foods

Fiber is part of most carbohydrate foods. However, while fiber is very good for you, like fat, it is also a major gastric suppressant and is best avoided in pre-morning workout meals. Instead, look for more refined foods that are naturally low in fiber, such as white bread instead of whole-grain bread.

Woman mixing spinach, berries, bananas and almond milk to make healthy green smoothie
A fruit smoothie made with berries, low-fat yogurt, and protein powder is a great option. (Luna Vandoorne – stock.adobe.com)

What are the suggested meals and snacks in the morning before training?

Armed with the information above, you should have no problem choosing your early morning workout meals and snacks. That said, here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Ripe mashed banana on toast with a little honey
  • Cereals and skimmed milk
  • Fruit smoothie made with berries, low fat yogurt and protein powder
  • A carbohydrate/protein energy bar or granola bar
  • Scrambled egg whites and rice crackers
  • Instant oatmeal and berries
  • Slices of bagel and turkey
  • Toasted English muffin with low-fat cream cheese

Ultimately, as long as your meal contains moderate to high GI carbs and a source of protein, it will provide your body with what it needs to fuel your diet. coachingeven if these foods are not traditional breakfast foods.

READ MORE: How often should you change your exercise routine?

Ideally, you should eat 30-60 minutes before you start training. (Drobot Dean – stock.adobe.com)

How long before training should you eat?

Ideally, you should consume your workout meal early in the morning 30-60 minutes before you start training, as this will give the food enough time to start digesting. Be sure to save time by planning and preparing your morning workout meal the night before your workout.

Also, liquids are digested faster than solids, so if you plan to train soon after getting up, it may be better to drink rather than eat your pre-workout meal.

Pro Tip: Make sure what you eat the night before is also a pre-workout meal

Even a great pre-morning workout meal won’t make up for not eating well the night before. Eating a nutritionally complete meal a few hours before bed will help boost muscle recovery and growth and ensure you wake up with healthy levels of muscle glycogen. Your early morning pre-workout snack should supplement your already high levels of glycogen and glucose.

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