If you’re an early bird exerciser, then of course you don’t want to be setting the alarm for 4 am so you can get your pre-workout porridge in! It comes down to personal preference if you like to have something small before, or if you are happy to train while fasted first thing. It can be a great idea to have something small such as a banana or a slice of toast with honey to provide a quick energy source. This is recommended if you are doing a strength session or high-intensity session over 60 minutes.
If you struggle to stomach something first thing, which is very common, then there are two options you can look at. Firstly, you can try a liquid-based snack, like fruit juice, coconut water, or even blending some protein powder with juice or coconut water to get a small amount of protein in alongside carbohydrates. Alternatively, if you are training while fasting, I suggest ensuring that you have had an adequate meal containing carbohydrates, protein, and fats the night before. That way, you have sufficient glycogen stores in the body ready to provide fuel for your early morning workout. If you don’t implement one or both options, you may experience feeling light-headed or lethargic.
Whilst training fasted does encourage your body to use fat stores for fuel, if you feel lethargic and light-headed during your morning session, you are likely to fatigue sooner and drop the intensity of your workout. This means that your workout won’t be as effective as it might be if your body has had adequate fuel. Also, sometimes training fasted can leave you feeling very hungry, causing you to overeat for the rest of the day. As you will remember from our blog 7 must-know fundamental nutritional principles for fat loss, being in a calorie deficit is superior to a fasted weights session.
I like using the car analogy: food to us is like petrol to a car. If your fuel tank is empty, you won’t get very far. Trying to workout after a long fast with very little in the tank won’t get you very far.
It will always come down to personal preference and figuring what works for you. I suggest experimenting with different options until you find the one that fits your needs best. Listen to your body! It will also depend on the goal and intensity of your training. Spending a little extra time planning and focussing on your pre-workout nutrition is a tool that can make a huge impact on training performance, but is so often overlooked. Having more fuel in the tank means more energy, which means you’ll be faster, stronger, and more alert when exercising. Win win win!!
We will be diving into what to eat after your workout in our next blog post, so keep your eyes out for that one!