We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and can set you up for a successful (and controllable) day of eating with great mental focus, alertness and energy.
One of the common struggles I come across with athletes/fitness enthusiasts is how to fuel in the morning with early morning workouts.
Common concerns:-Will I gain weight if I eat before my workout?
-I feel like I'm always snacking in the morning and never feel full?
-I have GI upset if I eat before my workout.
-I can't seem to recover from my workout.
-I do well until mid afternoon and then I can't stop eating!
-I'm always rushing to get my workout in in the morning and then get to work (take care of family).
Here are a few of my recommendations for timing your nutrition with your workouts for the early morning workouts (remember - tweak for your own individual needs and goals - log your lifestyle to reflect on what's working/not working):
-I recommend to have a breakfast meal after your workout if you are working out within 90 min of waking.-I recommend a small snack (if tolerated) before your workout, around 20-60 min before. Water is recommended to help with digestion (8-12 ounces) and coffee/tea is fine as well.
-During your workout, if around 60-90 minutes, water should meet your fluid needs, electrolytes may be needed if you are working out vigorously. There's nothing wrong with 20-25g of carbohydrates if you feel it will help your workout.-I recommend a small snack post workout, primarily protein (ex. milk, yogurt, egg, protein powder) of around 10-15g before your "real meal".
By prioritizing your nutrition around your workout in the morning you may find that you are more satisfied throughout the morning until your lunch. I recommend to plan a mid afternoon snack. Typically, most people go more than 5 hours between lunch and dinner meals and thus, will benefit from a planned "mini meal" snack mid afternoon to help with overeating at dinner or late-night snacking/cravings.
Here's a sample of my morning eats on Wednesday morning:
-5:30am - Wake-up, walk Campy, drink Coffee and glass of water.
-5:50am - 4 ounce organic skim milk w/ 1/2 cup cheerios and 1 spoonful chia seeds (or my other staple pre workout snack is 1-2 WASA cracker w/ 2 tsp natural PB w/ 4 ounce milk for shorter workouts)
6:45am - 3000 yard swim (1000 warm-up. MS: 6 x 300's. Odd swim Desc. Even paddles/buoy recovery. Rest 45 sec in between. 200 cool down). Water during workout.
7:45-8:15am - strength training. Water during workout.
8:15am - 8:45am - get ready for work.
8:45am - Driving to hospital - 4 ounce skim milk + 8 ounce water + 10g whey protein powder + 1 WASA cracker + smear of nut butter (prepared in morning)
9:30am - At hospital, working. Oatmeal creation which satisfied me until 12:45pm (lunch). I am not one to watch the clock so when I feel like my body is biologically hungry (whether 11:30am or 1pm) I eat.
This may look like a lot of eating (not complaining :) but Karel and I both make fueling around our workouts (and during) a priority and then once that's checked off, it's time to focus on nourishing our body for immune system protection. We really emphasize making balanced meals and enjoying those meals.Some of the other benefits of nutrient timing (that we experience and are common for the athletes I work with)
- We are not late night snackers
-We don't experience any type of uncontrollable cravings later in the day or in the evening
-We recover well post workouts
-We don't struggle with energy during workouts (or rapid fatigue)
-We don't experience GI upset during training/racing because of teaching the gut how to tolerate nutrition before/during workouts
FYI: This routine was not developed overnight. It took a lot of tweaking, reflecting, research and trial and error to find what works for me, my goals and my lifestyle. As an athlete and health conscious individual, my goal is to adapt to training and keep my immune system healthy as I live a busy life helping others. When I work with other athletes/fitness enthusiasts, I always focus on the "lifestyle" first and the individual goals. Also, I'm a real food enthusiast as you know but "sport nutrition" has its place. My body recovers best with whey protein and as a high biological protein, it offers more to my body and health than just 'recovery'. Also, for workouts over 90 minutes, I always have a sport drink with me providing at least 25g of carbs and during my IM prep I train with around 250-300 calories per hour during cycling and always run with some type of liquid fuel off the bike (as you may know, I only use fluids/gels with my IM training and racing - no solids).
To reap the benefits of training and to keep myself healthy, I really enjoy seeing food for fuel and for health.
1/2 cup dy oats
Handful chopped strawberries and blackberries (local)
1 tbsp unsweet coconut shredded
1 tbsp ground flax
1 spoonful chopped almonds
1 tbsp raisins
10g protein powder (the other half of the scoop of protein from the morning recovery)
(I typically measure my pre-training snacks to perfect it for race day as to what works/doesn't work but the rest of my meals I just eye ball portions. I provided measurements for you to help you create a good fueling template and then tweak with your individual needs)
This wasn't my lunch today but a delicious creation I made the other night and I thought you'd enjoy it.
1 can tomato basil soup
Additions: A few handfuls kale, 1/2 container firm tofu (cubed) and 1 small package mushrooms. Add 1 can water and your choice of starch or grain (I used basmati rice 1 cup cooked) and cook on low heat for 20 minutes in large pot, covered.
Top with cheddar cheese and yum....