What do you eat before a morning workout? Do you eat at all? Do you wake up starving?
Everyone is different.
Some people can eat anything before a workout and feel fine. Others have to choose wisely or face GI distress (I won’t get into the details but it isn’t pleasant). Where do you fall on the spectrum? It may take some trial and error because like I said everyone is different.
I, for one, wake up hungry. It could be that I made myself this way because I look forward to breakfast. I love oatmeal. I love peanut butter (which I put on everything in the morning). I love pancakes and waffles. I LOVE coffee. So it could be physiological hunger or it could be that I am just too excited and I can’t wait for those breakfast foods. Either is totally fine. I’m still listening to my body.
Therefore, I find it difficult to wake up and exercise without eating something. The only time I will do that is if my run is scheduled before 6am and it’s shorter than 4 miles. Anything longer than that and I need some fuel after being asleep and fasting (get it…breakfast is breaking the fast)?! It’s important to eat something that is easily digested by your body in the morning to replenish your glycogen stores. And this can mean different things for different people. When you are sleeping, your liver uses up the glycogen that it has been storing. Therefore, some food in the morning will help to replenish those stores, which are ultimately your fuel for your workout.
Some things that I have figured out about my body (this is not to say that this is what your body needs in the morning, it’s all individualized):
Early run before 6am (less than 4 miles): Just roll out of bed and do it. Save coffee for later 😦
Running after 6am (mileage less than 4): Eat a banana before the run to replenish some of my glycogen stores. After the run I will eat peanut butter oatmeal or pbj toast. Always coffee.
(My friend Sophie gave me that ring in high school and it says “friend” on it. Everyone asks who has the “best” but the truth is there isn’t one! I love this ring though and my girl, Soph!)
Running after 6am (mileage between 4 and 7): Eat some pbj toast before and a banana with more peanut butter after (my mom makes the best jam..strawberry is all the rave at my house right now). Always coffee.
(Look at the drippy nut butter! Trader Joes, you know your nut butter…)
Running after 6am (mileage greater than 7): Eat 1 slice of pbj toast with a banana with more peanut butter or eat two slices of pbj toast depending on how I feel. If my stomach feels off I will skip the banana because the fructose can sometimes cause some GI distress (TMI…). Or if I feel I need extra energy I will go for double toast. Some people need to stick to white toast because fiber can wreak havoc, but I have a sturdy stomach so far and can tolerate wheat/whole grain. Always coffee.
My beloved oatmeal is not an option before a run because of the lactose. Therefore, I avoid dairy before runs and will save it for an AM or PM snack later on. I just bought some chocolate milk for after longer runs and I have been having yogurt and cereal for a snack lately. Trying to get that calcium!
My goal for before a run is to have some glucose or fructose, aka easy sugar for my body to use for energy during anaerobic and also aerobic exercise since I’ve used up my liver glycogen stores while sleeping. I love waking up and thinking “what can I fuel my body with this morning to have a great workout?”
My goal after a run is to get carbohydrates to replenish what I used, some protein to stop the catabolism of my muscle (aka the breakdown of muscle), and some sodium (to stabilize my electrolytes after sweating) within the hour, sooner if possible. Sodium is found naturally or as a preservative in many foods so you don’t need to be adding salt necessarily.
There you have it. My goals for morning training sessions! That is when the runs happen in the morning…sleeping in has felt so great even if that only means until 8am…