For those who prefer to work out first thing in the morning, there is a lot of confusion over what to do when it comes to breakfast; should you eat before your workout, or exercise on an empty stomach? If you do eat, what is the best food to fuel your body pre- and post-workout? Which breakfast foods are quick and easy to prepare, as well as nutritious?
Luckily, we have some answers!
Let’s take a look at some of the most common questions and concerns:
Do you need to eat before a morning workout?
After getting out of bed at the crack of dawn, for some people, eating is the last thing they feel like, while others feel ravenous.
If you fall into the former group, the general consensus is that if you’re not hungry, there’s no need to force yourself to eat – in fact, some people function better in a fasted state. However, after fasting all night, your energy stores are depleted and you may not perform to your best ability without food. A simple snack can go a long way in increasing energy and alertness and pushing you further in your workout.
If you do eat, the activity you’re about to do, and the time you have before your workout, should dictate the size of your meal.
How large should your pre-workout meal be?
In order for food to be able to fuel your workout, you need to eat far enough ahead of time for it to be properly digested and made available as energy. So your portion size should depend on how soon your workout is after you eat. Generally speaking, you should try to eat an hour to 90 minutes before a workout.
Obviously, if you’re working out early, you don’t want to wake up hours before just to eat. If you don’t have a lot of time to digest, avoid a full meal and aim to eat a small snack at least 20 to 30 minutes before your workout.
What to eat pre-workout?
If you’re doing a short or low-intensity workout, simple carbohydrates should be enough to fuel you – for example, a banana or a few handfuls of cereal.
However, if you’re doing a longer or more intense workout, you should try to pair energy-boosting carbohydrates with a small amount of fat and protein. This will help to gradually release energy throughout your workout and optimise muscle-building.
The following snacks are all well balanced, quick to make, and easy to digest.
Half a banana with a teaspoon of peanut butter – banana is an excellent source of carbs, while nut butter is packed with protein, antioxidants and heart-healthy fats.
Half a mini bagel with a tablespoon of cream cheese – the bagel provides energy-rich carbs, while the cream cheese is full of protein to help build muscle and keep you full.
A hardboiled egg and a half slice of toast – an excellent pairing of carbs and protein.
Greek yoghurt – Greek yogurt is a great source of protein, probiotics and bone-strengthening calcium. It’s an optimal pre-workout snack as it’s easy to digest.
Rice cakes – rice cakes topped with nut butter, banana and chia seeds are tasty and a good balance of whole-grain carbohydrates, healthy fat and protein.
Smoothies – easy to make and quick to absorb, they can be packed full of nutrients and energy for a longer workout. Blend a combination of fruit, vegetables, Greek yoghurt, nut butter, chia seeds and protein powder to cover all the food groups.
If you’re short on time in the morning, you’ll find excellent pre-workout snack options at the David Lloyd Club Room. Choose from Greek yoghurt with a range of toppings, wholemeal toast with nut butter (or other preserves), fresh fruit salad and more.
What to eat post-workout?
It’s important to refuel after a workout with a good breakfast. Aim to eat a combination of healthy carbs and protein to aid muscle recovery and replenish the body’s carbohydrate stores.
Some good options include:
Oats – packed with heart-friendly fibre, protein and antioxidants, oats is an excellent breakfast food. It not only provides a slow release of energy throughout the morning but helps protect your heart health and reduce blood pressure. There are endless tasty and healthy additions, including nuts and nut butters, fresh fruit, yogurt and protein powder. Overnight oats are also the ideal breakfast on-the-go: simply soak oats in milk/yoghurt in a jar overnight and top with fruit, nuts and more in the morning.
Eggs – a great source of muscle-building protein as well as choline (a nutrient vital to brain and liver health), eggs are great fuel after a workout. Enjoy eggs on whole-grain toast paired with avocado, smoked salmon or sautéed vegetables, or in an omelette.
Avocado on toast – avocado is packed with Omega-3s, protein, fibre, vitamin E, and potassium. Enjoy mashed avocado on whole-grain bread for long-lasting energy.
There are plenty of delicious breakfast options at the David Lloyd Club Room perfect for a fast and easy post-workout meal. Enjoy everything from simple meals like oats or eggs on whole toast, through to steak and eggs, eggs Benedict and more.