There is nothing quite like getting up at 4:30am to go for an intense workout at the gym. Think I’m crazy? Don’t knock it until you try it. Yes, you will feel tired and cranky for that first 5 minutes upon waking up. You just need to fight the urge to go back to sleep. It’s the champions that make the choices to rise above the temporary sleepiness and take action.
If you’re one of these morning warriors, what do you eat to properly fuel your body before your workout?
As you know, while you’re sleeping, your body is going through a fast. To provide energy and help grow and reduce the breakdown of muscle, I’d recommend you get something in your stomach before your morning workout. But don’t just grab something that is quick. You need to fuel the body with the proper nutrients to start your day right.
Avoid This Trap
Try not to eat a breakfast comprised entirely of carbohydrates (this includes fruit). Grabbing a banana/apple on the go, a drink of orange juice, a sports carbohydrate drink, or just plain toast will quickly increase your blood sugar levels. This quick rise in blood sugar will most likely cause a quick drop in energy during your workout. This is going to leave you feeling tired and weak. These are the opposite feelings you should be having in the gym, especially at 4:30am.
Follow This Plan
Focus on fueling your body with slow digesting energy. An example would be consuming foods consisting of protein, fiber, and fat. Having these nutrients in your breakfast slows the rise in blood sugar, thus reducing that crash you fill after consuming a strictly carbohydrate meal or snack.
Protein will provide your body with the necessary amino acids to grow and repair your muscles. When I say, “grow your muscles”, I’m not referring to huge muscle growth that occurs with bodybuilders. I’m referring to even the smallest growth in muscles that will help you increase your strength in the gym, burn more body fat, and provide proper recovery to alleviate injuries.
Research shows taking protein before and after your workout, helps create a proper muscle protein balance in the body. The protein doesn’t just have to come from whey protein powders. It can also come from eating whole foods such as eggs, egg whites, nut butters, and organic yogurt.
Although fiber doesn’t provide the body with energy, it does help you fell full. Mentally this full feeling can help you in the gym since you may feel like you have more energy to get through the workout. Fiber in the morning also helps promote a healthy digestive system and keeps you regular so you don’t feel bloated of constipated throughout the day (nobody likes those feelings).
Increase your fiber intake in the morning by experimenting with eating ground flax seeds, sprouted whole grain bread, beans, and nut butters.
A small amount of healthy fat from flax oil, flax seeds, nut butters, egg yolks, and olive oil can all be beneficial to your pre-workout breakfast. These healthy fats can provide you with a slow release of energy to help get your through that grueling morning workout.
Caffeine can play a positive role in giving the body a necessary jolt of energy to complete your workout at a high intensity thus allowing you to build more muscle and burn more fat. This can be found in coffee or a cup of green tea (although green tea has a much smaller amount of caffeine than coffee). It works for some people, and others feel the caffeine gives them too much energy which can lead to a poor workout. Test it for yourself, and find out what works best for you.
Everyone Is Different
Experiment with the foods mentioned above. What may work well for some people, may not work for you at all. Track your progress and stick with what works for you.
Few Examples of Early Morning Pre-Workout Meals
Whey Protein Pudding
– 1 scoop of whey protein
– 2 Tbsp ground flax seeds
– Water or Unsweetened Almond Milk
The night before, mix whey protein with flax seeds and water (or almond milk) in a small container. Let it soak in your refrigerator over night. In the morning, the flax seeds will thicken up making it into a pudding consistency.
Ezekiel Toast with Natural PB
– One slice of Ezekiel bread (it’s made without flour and can be found in the freezer section of some grocery stores
– 1 tbsp of natural peanut butter
Toast one slice of Ezekiel bread. Top with peanut butter.
Rye Cracker with Hemp Seed Butter
– 1 hard rye cracker
– 1 tbsp of natural hemp seed butter
Top rye cracker with natural hemp seed butter
– 1 packet of Prograde Fusion
– water or almond milk
Mix together and drink.
Banana or Apple with Almond Butter
– 1 organic banana or apple
– 1 tbsp natural almond butter
Top fruit with almond butter.
– 1 scoop of Prograde Whey Protein Powder
– 1 cup of water or almond milk
– 1/2 cup of low sugar cereal
Mix whey protein with water or almond milk in a small bowl. Add cereal to the bowl.
Banana Walnut Protein Bar
– 1/2 cup rolled oats
– 6 scoops Prograde Whey Protein Powder
– 2 cups walnut meal (or just grind walnuts in a blender)
– 1/4 tsp baking powder
– pinch salt
– 2 medium ripe bananas (mashed)
– 2 large Omega-3 eggs
– 2 Tbsp pasture butter
– 2 Tbsp water as needed
Pre-heat oven to 350F. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and the wet ingredients in another bowl. Mix two bowls together. Add 1-2 tbsp of water if needed to mix well. ’¨’¨Put ingredients in a metal 7 x 11 non-stick baking pan. Bake for 12 mins or until the best survival knife comes out clean from the side of the pan (not the middle). It should be slightly undercooked in the middle. Don’t bake too long as it will turn out very dry.