Pre-workout eating – The how, when and what to eat when you train early in the morning.




Do you hit the gym before work?

When you train as early as 6am, it can be tricky to get nutrition right.
Here’s our guide to fuelling up around early sessions.

First up, answer these questions. They’ll help you design a nutrition approach to optimise those early-bird weights and cardio sessions.

1. What’s on the agenda: weights, cardio, both? Is it a big weight session (leg day?) or accessory work?

2. When was your most recent training session? Did you train the night before the upcoming morning training?

3. How well rested do you feel?

4. Is the gym likely to be particularly cold in the morning?

5. What have you eaten today (the day before the morning training session)?

It’s a good idea to look at what you’ve eaten, your hydration levels, and even your sleep and stress in the 24 hours before your morning training session. All these things will affect your performance, motivation and even your post-training recovery. They’re just as important as the food and supplements you take on board just before the session itself.

With all that in mind, here’s your ideal lead-up to an early morning training session:

The day before
– Hydrate well throughout the day (sipping on BCAA‘s as well as water)
– Have an evening meal which will digest well and is a decent portion size for you (ie not a cheat meal!) -> Include carbs and proteins in this meal
– Have a small amount of protein and fats just before bed (casein protein powder with some flax or LSA blend would be ideal)
– Wind down with some reading, a walk, an Epsom salts bath
– Bed by 10pm latest (lights out, no phone or tablet computer in bed with you!)

On the morning 6am date with the iron?
This is how your morning should look for a great early morning gym session every time.
– 5:00 on waking
– Sip on a litre of water with instant BCAA
– 5:15 have an espresso (make it a double if necessary) and get your pre-workout meal in. Try a small portion of cooked oats with a scoop of whey mixed in, or soak the oats overnight and just eat them cold. If that’s too much, how about a shake with a scoop of protein, superfine oats and a teaspoon of maca powder, or a powdered carb like waxy maize or maltodextrin?

Pack your bag
Don’t forget to take a drink with you for intra-workout: BCAA plus or any blend of BCAAs from the 2:1:1 ratio right up to the 8:1:1 ratio will help fuel your workout when you’ve only got one solid meal inside you.

And then you’ll need your post-workout nutrition to hand, unless you’re heading straight home. Pack a whey shake, or your choice of protein powder, and either grab a piece of fruit or a couple of rice cakes, or add a carbohydrate powder like maltodextrin, waxy maize starch or dextrose in with your protein.

And there you have it! The before, during and after plan for optimum nutrition for early morning workouts! Of course, there’s always the fasted-state approach to morning training… we’ll blog about that another time.

  • October 21, 2014
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