Getting started in the morning can be rough, especially if you wake up extra early to squeeze in a workout. Are you looking to become stronger or lose weight on your way to becoming the healthiest version of yourself? Depending on your goal, you may want to carve out extra time to eat a balanced bite before a workout.
We talked with five professionals who told us when and what to eat before you start your sweat sesh. Here’s what they have to say:
Think about your goals
“Whether or not you should eat before a morning workout really depends on your goals,” says Robert Santos-Prowse, a clinical dietician and author. “If you’re looking to lose fat, [you should] probably work out fasted. If you’re looking to gain muscle, work out fed. Working out in a fasted state leads to better and longer-lasting fat oxidation throughout the day, but working out in a fed state leads to better muscle hypertrophy.”
Listen to your body
“Every body is different, and that’s the fun part – figuring out how your body runs optimally should be exciting if you’re being intentional about your approach,” says Eliza Nelson, a personal trainer. “If you tend to feel weak or light-headed, try an apple or Greek yogurt an hour before class,” suggests Nelson. If you can power through a workout on an empty stomach, go for it.
Be intentional with what you eat
“If you exercise early in the morning, eat a tablespoon of plain almond butter and a tablespoon of jam. The combination of sugar and fat will provide a higher caloric burn, which leads to better training results and sets you up to combat post-workout sugary cravings,” suggests Dr. Philip Goglia, a celebrity nutritionist and the co-founder of G-plans.
It comes down to personal preference
“When it comes down to it, whether or not you eat before a morning workout really is personal preference,” says Serena Poon, a celebrity chef and nutritionist. “I’ve personally tried all the different types of workout prep, and I love how my body responds to fasted cardio or a low-intensity workout before eating. Fasting also primes your body to receive nutrients once you’re done working out,” Poon adds.
On the other hand, Autumn Calabrese, the creator of 21 Day Fix, always encourages people to eat before a morning workout. “When you sleep, you’re going a long period [of time] without putting fuel in your body. Trying to do a workout on an empty tank usually means you won’t have as much energy to push as hard or go as long. Know your body and how long it takes for you to digest until you’re comfortable enough to work out, then time your meal accordingly,” says Calabrese.
xx, The FabFitFun Team