“How and should you eat before working out at the 5:00 or 6:00 am class?”
Now I am going to be completely honest with you guys. It is few and far between that I train at that hour. However, it does happen and more so I used to coach that early every day.
But, I think this is a great question because it can be broken down in your day.
For instance, let’s start with the simple approach, if you work out at noon you have, most likely, eaten less before that work out than if you work out at 6:00pm. Working out later in the day simply gives you more opportunities to get more meals in. Now those crazy people that work out at the crack of dawn, 5:00 / 6:00am, would have even less (calories, food) than the noon people. However, that does not mean working out on empty.
There has been a debate in recent years on fasted cardio versus pre-workout carbs. Your body uses the energy from carbohydrates, either as glucose or glycogen from muscle stores throughout your workouts. If the carbs are not available then the body turns to other resources. Well, we have reserved fats so those are used, right?
Unfortunately, your body doesn’t actually want to use those reserved fats because they are difficult to access. Instead your body can do funky things like breaking down protein to convert to glucose (sugar) from your muscle tissues. Now, we are not building muscle we are actually taking from it. With the more difficult processes of breaking down fat and protein we tend to see a drop in blood sugar leading to feeling dizzy or sluggish during our workouts.
To the first question of “Should I eat in the morning?” My answer is YES.
The next question, “How?”
This can be a little more complex. It does depend on the type of exercise you are doing. Because Friction is a functional fitness gym, we are going to answer it based on our programming. Generally, for any pre-workout meal, a mixture of simple carbs and protein are most beneficial. Simple carbs are higher on the glycemic index meaning your body breaks them down easily and quickly into fuel. Easy examples include fruit, fruit juice, white bread, and Gatorade.
I understand it sometimes feels difficult to eat first thing in the morning, but these foods won’t leave that heavy pit feeling in your stomach because they digest easily. If you are going into a CrossFit or functional fitness class at 5:00 in the morning and you have about 30 minutes before class all that is recommended is some simple carbs and a small amount of protein. This can be as easy as grabbing a shaker bottle and putting in half a scoop of protein powder and adding some Gatorade to it. Other simple carb choices include orange juice or an apple on your way out the door. If you have kids to take care of in the morning and you need to eat farther in advance, like an hour, it is recommended that you double those carbs and add just a bit more protein. If you had half a scoop of protein for 30 minutes, let’s do 3⁄4 scoop for an hour and double the amount of Gatorade.
If you are not used to eating right away in the morning, make it as easy as possible and stick through it for a couple weeks to let your stomach adapt. Your workouts will thank you because of it.
Overall, it is important to have something in your system before going and pushing your body. We want to build up the body and it needs nutrients to be able to do so.