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Published on November 27, 2020

What To Eat Before Morning Workout (10 Simple Breakfast Ideas)

What To Eat Before Morning Workout (10 Simple Breakfast Ideas)

Early morning workouts are the norm for many. For some, it’s the only time they have; others may feel better working out first thing in the morning.

The morning can be a crazy rush. Figuring out what to eat before morning workout when you’re in a pinch may be difficult. Maybe you don’t get hungry in the mornings or feel you have the time to eat. However, there’s a good reason why you should care about what to eat before a morning workout.

What’s the Real Deal on Eating Before You Work Out?

Some people swear by working out on an empty stomach. Others believe you should have a full meal before doing anything. But what does science say about eating before you work out?

Studies mostly agree that you should eat before any exercise.[1]
However, you don’t want to head to the gym immediately after eating. You want to give your body at least an hour to digest.

You also might want to skip a hearty breakfast. Heavy foods lead to feeling bloated or you may even get sick during a workout. Light breakfasts or sports drinks are recommended instead. Large meals are recommended to be eaten around three hours before a workout and small meals or snacks about one hour prior. This ensures you don’t feel sluggish and gives you the necessary energy needed to complete your workout.

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Now, some people are crunched for time and can’t make breakfast and workout. Many don’t like eating breakfast or feel hungry. Each person is different and it’s true that you might be fine to workout without eating anything first thing in the morning. However, eating breakfast each morning isn’t only ideal for exercise but for healthy weight control and brain function as well.[2]

This doesn’t mean you are required to eat breakfast. In fact, there are benefits to not eating before you workout too. Studies show that workouts done on an empty stomach burn more fat because your body isn’t relying on carbohydrates for fuel.[3] It should be noted that there are limited studies on whether you burn more fat long-term with fasted workouts than “fed” workouts.

How Eating Can Change Your Workout

The research doesn’t just mention eating breakfast. There are studies that show eating before and after workouts fuel the body and aid in muscle recovery.[4] Drinking or eating carbohydrates before you exercise improves your performance overall. It may allow you to exercise at higher intensities and for a longer time.

Not eating might cause you to be sluggish or lightheaded. This depends on when you last slept and ate of course. For example, you may be someone who goes to bed late but rises early or you may eat a full meal before bed and not be hungry when you wake.

Breakfast

The studies on what to eat before morning workout suggest that you might want to stick to your morning breakfast routine. If you’re a coffee drinker, you can drink it and probably not feel any adverse effects.

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The same goes if you normally eat a specific food or food group for breakfast. Deviating from your normal foods has the potential to cause upset stomachs until your body gets used to it.

Snacks

Snacks before, and sometimes during a workout can help you reach your goals. However, there is a timeline for snacking. If your workout lasts longer than an hour, it’s worth it to eat a carbohydrate-rich food or drink.

On the other hand, eating a snack before a short workout of fewer than 30 minutes probably won’t do much to increase your energy.

Post-Workout

Post-workout meals or snacks are essential. After all the strain you put your body and muscles through with exercise, you want to help aid in recovery. Exercise depletes the body of glycogen. Glycogen is necessary for muscle repair, recovery, and your body’s overall functioning.

It’s recommended you eat a full meal that is rich in carbohydrates and protein within two hours of your last workout session. This helps replace glycogen stores (carbohydrates) and aid in muscle repair (protein).

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It’s Not Only About the Food!

Often, food is regarded as the most important part of maintaining a healthy weight. However, hydration is very important too. Fluid consumption before, during, and after a workout is key to preventing dehydration. The more you exercise, the more you’ll need.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, the fluid recommendations for pre-workout should be around two to three cups and ½ cup to one cup per every 15 to 20 minutes during your workout.[5] Your post-workout consumption guidelines are two to three cups after your workout for every pound of weight you lose during a workout.

Typically, drinking water is the best for fluid replenishment. However, if you are working out more intensely or longer than one hour, it’s recommended to use a sports drink. Sports drinks contain carbohydrates that give you energy and replace lost electrolytes.

Why Your Choice of Breakfast Matters?

When deciding what to eat before morning workout, there are a few factors to consider: the type of food, digestion, and time.

A quick sports drink or cereal provides the body with quick bursts of energy, but it may not last long during a longer workout. To ensure you get the sustained energy you need for those more intense workouts, combine simple carbohydrates with a small amount of fat and protein.

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The size of your meal has a lot to do with your workout longevity. The longer your workout lasts, the more energy-dense meal you’ll want to have. The same goes for shorter workouts. The potential drawback is your digestion time.

Big, energy-dense meals take around four hours to digest which doesn’t exactly align with a quick morning workout. Aim for smaller meals if you have about two hours to spare. If you don’t have two hours, which most people don’t, then a quick but healthy option is blended meals or a 200-calorie snack. Blended meals like smoothies or low-calorie snacks only take about an hour to digest but still provide adequate energy.

Don’t have time to make any meals at all? Maybe you just can’t stomach breakfast? Try a banana or a slice of toast. As time goes on, add on to this little snack until your body can tolerate a small meal.

Breakfast Ideas – Dos And Don’ts

Let’s take a look at the simple breakfast ideas you can have before your morning workout:

Breakfast of Champions

Breakfast options are limitless. However, you want to start with the right foods, not ones that just taste good. I’ve compiled a list of tasty, yet healthy breakfast options that provide energy for your workouts and won’t weigh you down:

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  1. Fruit – Fruits are easily digestible, provide fuel, and are great for those that aren’t typically breakfast eaters.
  2. Smoothies – Smoothies are versatile. You can combine fruits and vegetables, yogurts, protein powders, nut butter, or seeds like chia.
  3. Energy Bowls – Energy bowls have a similar concept to a smoothie except you sit down to eat them. They can include nuts, seeds, and blended fruits or vegetables.
  4. Greek or plain yogurt – Yogurts, especially Greek or plain yogurts are high in protein, probiotics, and calcium.
  5. Oatmeal – Oatmeal is a classic staple. It’s full of carbohydrates and fiber. Both will give a huge boost of energy. You can even add fruit, nuts, or milk for even more energy.
  6. Eggs – Eggs’ possibilities are limitless. You can have them as a standalone, add cheese, or veggies like peppers to add nutrition. Couple eggs with toast or an English muffin for a quick sandwich.
  7. Energy Bites – Energy bites are full of fiber, protein, and fats to keep you satisfied longer. You can make them with peanut butter, walnuts, flaxseeds, cashews, or almonds.
  8. Homemade muffins – Muffins may seem like an unhealthy, tasty snack but they’re actually great for long workouts. They have fiber and are high in carbs. You can even add fruit or nuts to them for an energy bonus.
  9. Homemade pancakes – Homemade pancakes are a great source of grains and carbs to fuel your workout. You can add fruit or nut butter for extra boosts. Make sure you don’t go overboard with your portion size as they can be a little on the heavy side.
  10. Toast – Toasts may seem boring or basic but it’s very versatile. Toast is easy on the stomach, quick, and you can add a ton of options like avocado, sweet potato, or jam.

Breakfast That Will Make You Sluggish

  1. Fast Food – Fast food doesn’t need much of an explanation as it’s unhealthy enough. it’s full of fat, grease, and may even upset your stomach.
  2. Sweetened Non-Fat Yogurts – These yogurts are full of sugar that can leave you to suffer a “high” but then “crash” later on. The lack of fat doesn’t keep you full as long.
  3. Energy drinks/fruit juices – While orange juice or a Red Bull might seem like a great idea for a boost of energy, they come with high sugar and the “crash.”
  4. Spicy foods – Spicy foods are satisfying but they aren’t great for a workout. Spicy foods can lead to indigestion, heartburn, or even stomach cramps.
  5. Sugary cereals – Cereals like Cheerios or Raisin Bran are healthy options but cereals like Frosted Flakes or Fruit Loops are terrible pre-workout breakfast foods. They’re full of fat and sugars. The milk added could cause stomach issues as well.

The Bottom Line

Deciding what to eat before morning workout doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t have to sacrifice your time either. While you may not be hungry when you first wake up, it’s a good idea to try to eat at least a small meal before you exercise.

More Healthy Breakfast Ideas

Featured photo credit: Margarita Zueva via unsplash.com

Reference

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Dan Barcelon

Health & Fitness Editor of "Fitness for Non-Athletes"

15 Effective Workout Tips Backed by Scientific Research What To Eat Before Morning Workout (10 Simple Breakfast Ideas)

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Published on July 14, 2021

13 Best Foods to Eat at Night (Advice From a Health Coach)

13 Best Foods to Eat at Night (Advice From a Health Coach)

We’ve all had late-night cravings. Those times when you would lie in bed but your mind is on the fridge. You try to fight it, but you find out that you can’t. Food—you want food—to chew and to drink and to swallow. It usually goes this way: after much hesitation, you would get off your bed and walk over to the kitchen where you would stand for seconds and maybe even minutes contemplating a lot of things.

You have heard about it—read about it, too—the famous “eating late at night isn’t good for you.” You know well about how eating late at night can cause you stress and make you gain weight. But you just want to eat—and eat you must.

But what must you eat? What are your best and most healthy options? Here are the 13 best foods to eat at night.

1. Turkey

If you aren’t a vegetarian, then you most probably love turkey. It is not only very tasty and delicious, but it is quite nutritious, too. Turkey contains a lot of protein. As little as 28 grams of turkey already contains eight grams of protein.[1]

It also contains some amount of vitamins and a nutritive compound called selenium. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that plays an important role in ensuring the thyroid gland functions properly.

Turkey passes as one of the best foods to eat at night because the protein tryptophan, which it contains in a considerable amount, is believed to promote tiredness and thus, sleepiness.[2]

2. Fish

Another great choice for non-vegetarians is fish, especially fatty fishes like salmon, tuna, and mackerel. These are considered healthy choices because they contain a considerable amount of Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps your body regulate its calcium levels and is good for your kidneys, parathyroid glands, skin, etc.

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Fatty fishes also contain omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are a group of healthy fatty acids that can serve as anti-inflammatory agents and are good for the brain. Omega-3 fatty acids are shown to be able to increase the amount of serotonin produced by the nervous system, and thus, make sleep feel better.[3] This means that fishes would not keep you awake! You don’t have to roll from side to side trying to fall asleep after eating them.

Fishes also contain nutritive oils that are good for your body and skin.

3. White Rice

White rice is just rice that has no bran germ—that is, both bran and germ have to be removed as a result of processing from brown rice to make it white rice. This removal of bran and germ causes white rice to contain lower fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants when compared with brown rice. However, white rice still contains a commendable amount of nutrients such as thiamine, folate, and manganese and so is great as a late-night meal.

White rice has a high Glycemic Index. (GI). A food’s glycemic index is simply the measure of the rate at which that food increases the body’s sugar level. Taking in foods with a GI index, such as rice, can improve the quality of one’s sleep. This is as long as one takes these foods one hour before sleep. If you plan to sleep by 7 p.m, then it is a good idea to eat white rice by 6.p.m.[4]

4. Bananas

Finally, Something for vegetarians. A fruit! Bananas not only taste good, but they are also rich in the compounds potassium and tryptophan, making them one of the best foods to eat at night.

Tryptophan, as earlier stated, is an essential protein that plays a role in relaxation. Some bananas before meals can improve the quality of your sleep. Plus, they contain vitamins and are rich in antioxidants. They also contain compounds that are capable of making bowel movements easier.

5. Cheese and Crackers

Cheese and crackers, crackers being a source of carbohydrates and cheese a source of tryptophan, can help balance the body’s sugar level. When you take cheese and crackers together, more tryptophan is made available to your brain.[5] The sugar in cheese feeds your brain, and tryptophan helps with the production of melatonin.

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This means that there would be more serotonin and melatonin production in your nervous system when you take cheese and crackers together. Serotonin improves the quality of a person’s sleep.

6. Warm Cereals

Cereals are great sources of fiber. Ones like oats also contain an impressive amount of melatonin, which improves sleep.

Before bed, a hot bowl of cereal and maybe even whole grains are a good choice. They do not contain a lot of calories and would most likely not keep you awake.

7. Yoghurt

Yogurt tastes good, and kids and adults love them. They are also a rich source of calcium. Calcium is an essential mineral to the body. It is necessary for the growth of bone and teeth, and skeletal, smooth, and cardiac muscles need it for muscular contractions to happen.

Your body also needs calcium to produce melatonin from tryptophan. If calcium levels are low, there will be a reduced rate of production of melatonin—and thus, low quality sleep. Yogurt also contains casein. Casein is believed to reduce early morning hunger.

Unsweetened yogurt is a great snack and one of the best foods to eat at night.

8. Eggs

Eggs are great sources of protein and don’t contain many calories. As a late-night snack, eggs are a great pick. They are easy to cook and can go along with many different kinds of snacks.

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Eggs also contain tryptophan, which—as you must now already know—can improve the quality of one’s sleep.

9. Protein-Pineapple Smoothie

As you may have noticed, most of the snacks and foods on this list of best foods to eat at night are protein-rich foods. Protein-rich meals taken around bedtime can boost muscle repair. They can also combat age-related muscle mass loss especially in people who frequently exercise.

As a late-night snack, you can blend some pineapple pieces into milk. Milk is a great source of the protein tryptophan from which the body produces melatonin. Pineapples do not contain a lot of calories and might not prove a threat to your body’s normal digestive functions. Pineapples can also boost your body’s serotonin levels.[6]

10. Tart Cherries

Juices made from tart cherries are great alongside other snacks, such as crackers and cheese. Tart cherries have anti-inflammatory effects. Even though in small quantities, tart cherries contain the sleep hormone melatonin. They also contain procyanidin B-2, which is believed to keep stable the essential amino acid tryptophan.[7]

Tart Cherries have low calories, too. This means that they are not too heavy and do not pose the threat of fat deposition, and they would not keep you awake.

11. Honey

Honey harvested from bees is nutritious and does not contain a lot of calories. It is known to be capable of increasing the production of melatonin in one’s body.[8]

It also contains healthy sugars, such as fructose and glucose, and can have a healthy effect on your body’s sugar level. Honey is one of the best food to eat late at night.

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12. Popcorn

When it isn’t swathed in sugar and milk and other fatty stuff, popcorn presents as a great late-night snack. Popcorn is a low-calorie snack and contains a rich amount of fiber.[9] High-fiber grains are believed to lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.

Also, popcorn contains polyphenols. Polyphenols are antioxidants believed to improve circulation and in general, health.

13. Baked Sweet Potato Fries

French fries are amazing. They taste so good. Do you like french fries? Then baked sweet potato fries are a great pick you might want to consider.

As a late-night snack, you can very well bake sweet potatoes instead of frying them. They are easier to prepare when baked and do not contain so much fat. Sweet potatoes contain a good quantity of fiber and vitamins.[10]They also contain some great amounts of protein.

Final Thoughts

When next you have the craving for a late-night meal, you should know that not all meals are great when eaten at night. Some are about right, and others could contribute to excessive weight gain, heart diseases, digestive disorders, and other health issues.

Have you ever woken up with swollen eye bags, felt nauseous, or had malaise after a late-night meal? Then it’s possible the meal was not a great pick.

When choosing the best meals and snacks to eat at night, you should choose meals that contain low calories—not more than 200 calories—and have high protein content. Proteins like tryptophan enhance the quality of sleep. Some of these foods include eggs, turkey, cheese, bananas, yogurt, juices, etc.

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Remember, eating healthy is a great way to remain healthy.

More Healthy Snacks Options

Featured photo credit: K15 Photos via unsplash.com

Reference

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