Tips for Eating Before Working Out in the Morning

Jump-start your morning workout with these high-energy foods

Eating the right food in the morning can affect your health all day long

Exercising first thing in the morning is one of the best habits you can get into! When you wake up and jump on your Total Gym it can help to speed up your metabolism, regulate your appetite and start your day off with a great accomplishment! However, what to eat to fuel your workout can seem a bit confusing. Here are some tips to get the most out of your Total Gym workout and be energized for the rest of the day!

When should you eat?

Typically it takes food about 45 minutes to digest so I suggest eating small meal 45 minutes to an hour before you work out. Although that may seem like a lot of time early in the morning, if you eat a small snack when you first wake up you should find that 45 minutes flies by as you are putting on your workout clothes, brushing your teeth and stretching.

How much should you eat?

For the typical 45-60 minute Total Gym workout, your pre-workout snack should be about 200 calories. This will give you enough fuel to energize your workout but not so much so your body feels sluggish because it is using so much energy digesting.

What should you eat?

When it comes to energy, carbohydrates are your best friend! They break down quickly so your body can use the fuel to energize your workout first thing in the morning. However, not all carbohydrates were created equal. Although your body may crave high sugar carbohydrates such as pastries or muffins when you are tired, you will find that this gives you short-term energy but it burns up well before you are done with your workout. Think back to those days where you started your workout feeling like a rock star only to collapse halfway through!
Instead, choose lower glycemic carbohydrates like whole grains or fruit and be sure to combine it with a little protein for long-term energy. Here are some of my favorite examples:

• 1 slice whole wheat toast, 1 tbsp. almond butter, ½ banana
• 6 oz. plain yogurt and ½ cup fresh berries
• 1 apple & 10 cashews
• 1 scoop protein powder, 4 oz. fresh fruit or vegetable juice, 4 oz. water

Should I drink water before a morning workout?

Another factor when it comes to a high-energy workout is hydration. Being dehydrated can make you feel sluggish, dizzy and negatively impact your morning workout. However, if you drink a lot of water with your morning snack you may find that it makes you feel bloated. This is because it can dilute the digestive enzymes in your stomach and make it harder to turn the food into fuel. Instead of chugging water with your pre-workout snack, I suggest waiting about 20 minutes after you eat and then having 8-16oz. of water. This will keep you hydrated but prevent that bloated stomach feeling!
The important thing to remember is that everyone is different, especially when it comes to what they can eat before they exercise. Use these ideas as a starting point and tweak it until you find what works best for you. If you have any pre-workout meals or tips that energize your workout I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

Tara Coleman

Tara Coleman is a Clinical Nutritionist with a private practice in San Diego, CA. She speaks nationally on the topics of health and nutrition and has been cited as a nutrition expert by media such as NBC, FOX, SELF, Cosmopolitan and Dr. Oz The Good Life. Download her FREE 4 Step Nutrition Quick Start Guide and start feeling better today!

This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. One banana, a cup of yugot, one scoop of muscle milk or phasd8 protein shake . Sometimes purely inspired organic protein (one scoop) is what I use for break fast before morning workout or bed time snack after evening or late night workout before bed.
    My question is how good is one cup of oriental spicy chicken noodle for carbohydrates before or after workout?

    1. Hey there,

      First, I’d like to probably be the first to tell you that Total Gym is planning to release a protein supplement soon.

      Now onto your question. Personally, I don’t like to eat spicy foods before a workout, simply because they don’t digest as well. When I’m exercising I don’t like “tasting” things again, if you catch my drift. Again, this is my personal opinion.

      Ideally, you should eat carbohydrates both before AND after your workout, and here is why: As you exercise, your muscles use energy from glycogen stores found within your body. What is glycogen? Glycogen is created in the body as a derivative of glucose, a simple sugar found in most foods. Once the body has depleted it’s glycogen stores, it turns to fat cells for energy, resulting in fat loss. The body only does this for a certain amount of time, however, until it eventually begins to digest muscle fibers for energy.

      A perfect source of carbohydrates before you exercise would be something like oatmeal or some rice, as these are slower digesting carbohydrates. Slower digesting carbohydrates help to create a constant flow of energy as they digest while you workout. After your workout, your body is starving for energy in the form of glycogen, so a faster digesting carbohydrate is recommended. These would be things like fruit or even a handful of gummy bears (just limit it to one handful though 😉 )

      Does this make sense? So your oriental spicy chicken noodles would probably be best eaten after your workout.

  2. I usually eat a small bowl of blueberry muffin oatmeal with about 1/4 banana & 2 to 3 fresh cut strawberries with a side of almond milk diluted with water!

  3. I wake-up early in the morning at 5.30 am and going to the gym at 6.00 am. what should I eat before start workout?

      1. The article was discussing eating 45 minutes to an hour before the workout. I believe what Prashant was really asking was what if you only have 30 minutes between wake up time and work out start time?

        1. As the article says, food usually takes 45 minutest to digest, so I’m not sure what to say here. You should eat as soon as you wake up, and you will continue to digest as you workout. You may experience some indigestion, but that is not abnormal when you become active while digesting a recent meal.

          1. You mean, having food immediately after getting up before having brush and cleaning up of bowels !!!

  4. I train on a morning and have been having protein shakes. Last year i found out i am lactose intolerant so have switched to soy protein instead. I have since realised this may also be a cause of my bloating – what else can i have? bananas also seem to be a no no and I can’t have heavy foods

    1. A scrambled egg and a piece of toast would be great

  5. Hi , I do understand that we have to eat and wait 45 to 60 mins before we start training . My first question is how about if I have to wake up and go the gym straight away or within 30 mins from the time I wake up as I have to go to work . The second question if I’m going to eat then go to the gym ( in the morning again ) what is the best time to take M – STAK supplements ? Thank you very much

  6. These snacks will totally give you the boost to do some running and exercise in the morning. Its important to eat wholesome food before a workout.

  7. i wake up at 6:45 and start workout in gym at 7:15 ,what should i eat before workout as i fill very dizzy while workout,

    1. As the article says, it normally takes food to 45 minutes to digest. You should probably et something as soon as you wake up then. It will be at least partially digested.

  8. Can I have 1 banana before early morning workout as I wake by 5:30 and hit the gym by 6:00. So I have very less time for to prepare anything. Some one please suggest

    1. Yeah I think a banana would be fine to eat. It will give you a little bit of fuel for your workout.

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