Light or hearty? What to eat before a morning workout

a slice of bread with a smile

When it comes to figuring out what to eat before an early morning workout, there are a few things to consider. Is it best to eat before a workout? If so, how much is best? Do I even have enough time to eat?

We will get to all of your questions and some but first of all I want to say, congrats! Celebrate! You are most likely reading up on this post today because you are either:

  • a. about to start your morning workout routine and are researching how to best prepare
  • b. already a regular morning workoutter wanting to gather some breakfast inspo to continue pushing towards your goals to a healthy you

and now that you have made it to these crossroads, you’re here to figure out what the heck should you eat in the morning. But first, let’s dive in to whether you should even eat anything first thing in the A.M.

oatmeal and blueberries in a bowl

Should I eat before a workout?

The answer to this may or may not surprise you but ultimately the answer is that it is up to you. Does eating first thing in the morning upset your stomach? Then maybe it isn’t for you. Do you feel lethargic and find it hard to motivate yourself on an empty stomach? You should probably try eating something if that is the case. 

The biggest piece of advice I can give you is to test it out. Find your “sweet spot” when it comes to the amount of food your body needs in order to run its best in the morning.

smoothie in a mason jar
protein shaker bottle

small snack / grab-&-go ideas

Whether it’s because you have .5 seconds before you are going to for reals be late to the 6am workout or if you just prefer breakfast on the lighter side before you work on your cardio, here are a few snack ideas to get you out the door.

  • Smoothie (There are hundreds of recipes out there for all kinds of tastebuds.)
  • Fruit:
    • Bananas may be the easiest option
    • Prep some apple slices with your nut butter of choice
    • Berries or any sliced fruits for that matter
  • 1/2 a protein bar
  • Protein shake (I’ll do a half of a scoop and 8 oz of water if I don’t want all the protein and something light on my stomach.)
  • Cereal in a cup (Have it dry or with added milk. It’s convenient and fits in your car cup holder. Been a favorite of mine since high school)
chocolate muffin and peaches

heftier snack options

Raise your hand if liquid drinks (ie. smoothies or protein shakes) do absolutely nothing to quench your growling stomach ✋

  • Half a mini bagel with a teaspoon of cream cheese
  • Muffins:
    • Baked muffins (we have a whole post about tasty, healthy muffins)
    • Egg cups (get creative and add spinach, mushrooms or peppers)
  • A piece of toast with some jam or nut butter
  • Yogurt (straight out of the to-go container)
avocado toast
açaí bowl with toppings

full-on meal ideas

There are some of you out there that actually give yourselves a decent amount of time to get out of bed, get dressed and wake up before heading out the door for your workout. This is the type of routine I am trying to slowly build the habit of myself but Rome wasn’t build in a night, so I am still baby stepping to that goal. 

So if you are actually taking the time to prepare a balanced breakfast before your morning workout (or if you just stumbled here for some breakfast inspo in general) here are some tasty options to take on: 

  • Oatmeal with fruit (could also be done as overnight oats for more convenience)
  • Sweet potato toast topped with nut butter, fruit and some chia seeds, cinnamon or granola
  • Egg over an English muffin
  • Avocado toast with an egg and cooked spinach
  • Açai bowl with all your favorite toppings

A note about vegetables

One thing to keep in mind is that with breakfast, there are a lot of ways for you to sneak in veggies. 

Spinach for instance, can be blended in a smoothie and no longer becomes recognizable as its polarizing leafy self. Or when you cook spinach down and throw it on your avocado toast with egg, the texture of the toast almost hides the spinach altogether (almost).

If you struggle to eat your daily amount of vegetables, I would encourage you to try adding even the tiniest amount of veggies to your morning meal. Just like anything else, if you do it long enough it starts to become your normal!

I hope you found this quick guide semi-helpful and please throw out any of your go-to favorites for breakfast before a workout in the comments!

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