What To Eat If You Train Early In The Morning

Plot twist: you don’t.

Just kidding, kinda…

The early AM training session scenario is one that I get hit with all the time as a nutrition coach to athletes, and I’ve got you covered in this quick article…

So, what do you do?

Do you wake up at 4AM to get your breakfast in like a champ before your 6AM session?

If you like torture and are a psychopath, then that might be for you…

If you’re a normal human being like the rest of us, then I’ve got a better option for ya…

First things first, you actually don’t have to eat…

Personally, if I train in the morning I prefer to train fasted. Getting a solid meal or snack in right before training without enough time to actually break down and digest those nutrients simply leaves me feeling weighed down.

If you’re in the same boat, don’t stress. Going into your first session of the day fasted is totally okay. In this case, we simply look at your dinner the night before as your pre-workout meal.

If you got plenty of quality carbs in with that meal, your glycogen stores should be topped off and you should be ready to perform well in your training session. The reality is, glycogen storage takes place over a 24-36 hour period so you’re all good if you don’t want your stomach feeling like a cement mixer when you get to the gym.

Important: If you go in fasted, especially as an athlete, especially especially if you train twice that day, your post workout meal becomes much more important to refuel and recover from fasted session numero uno.

[For a more detailed rundown of that post-workout meal, check out the free eBook I wrote detailing how to set up your entire nutrition prescription as an athlete]

Now, there is something to be said for getting some calories in prior to the early morning festivities…

If you’re looking to maximize your performance and it sits well with your stomach, I would recommend getting some calories (specifically carbs and protein) in prior to or during that session.

So, how do we walk that fine line between optimizing your performance and ending up with your face in the trash can?

My favorite option to give you a little bit of rocket fuel for your performance is to utilize liquid carbs. Specifically, highly-branched cyclic dextrin is great here due to how quickly it is absorbed from the stomach into the bloodstream.

Along with the carbs, you can also add protein powder if it sits well with you to take advantage of muscle protein synthesis. If true protein powder is a bit heavy, you can also simply add some essential amino acids to the drink.

If liquid carbs aren’t in the budget, then another simple solution that has worked well for me and my clients (one actually hit a PR after implementing this, no joke) is the classic protein shake + a banana pre-workout snack. I’ve found that this usually sits pretty well, and provides a quick source of protein and carbs.

The most important thing to remember here is how you feel. As an athlete, this is priority number one.

I don’t care if the science tells you that you need to eat X amount of Y food at Z time…

If you do that and feel like s***, stop trying to shove a square peg into a round hole…

Like I said at the beginning of this article, I personally don’t eat prior to AM sessions. If I do, my gut will not feel good at all, and the negatives of the discomfort will far outweigh any of the positives I may have gotten from the extra calories.

Play around with the techniques in this article and see what strategy works best for YOU!

Hopefully this helped clear some things up for you. Remember, if you want to learn more and really make sure that you have your nutrition dialed in be sure to download my FREE eBook, The Athlete’s Guide to Nutritional Periodization. Just click HERE to get your copy (it comes with a free video course as well, btw)!

Let me know what other questions you have about nutrition by shooting me an email or a message on Instagram. Talk to you soon!

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