If you're trying to clock an early morning run or gym session, it can be tricky to nail the perfect pre-workout breakfast. After all, no one wants to feel too full or bloated during an a.m. workout — or cook a meal at dawn. But fueling properly before a workout can help you exercise longer and at a higher intensity, according to the Mayo Clinic.
If you're planning to start your workout within an hour of your breakfast, it's important to prepare an easy-to-digest meal that's high in carbohydrates, per the Mayo Clinic. Carbs are fast-digesting and will provide the energy you need for your sweat session.
Before a workout, you'll also want to avoid eating too much fiber (for instance, too many veggies), as it can be taxing on your digestive system, according to the American Council on Exercise. You'll also want to avoid a meal that's significantly high in fat, as it takes more energy and time to digest than carbohydrates.
Keep your pre-workout breakfast relatively small and make sure to eat a high-protein snack or second breakfast afterward to help rebuild those muscles. Debating what to prepare before your early-bird workout? Try one of these easy-to-prep breakfast recipes worth waking up for.
1. Banana Nut Crunch
Combining creamy almond butter and banana, this toast recipe takes only about 10 minutes and four steps to prepare, deeming it the perfect early-morning breakfast. This recipe also calls for a sprinkle of shredded coconut, giving your toast a unique, flavorful twist.
Banana is arguably one of the most commonly referenced pre-workout snacks — and as a healthy, fast-digesting carb, it's not surprising. And as you probably already know, bananas are high in potassium. This nutrient is actually beneficial for muscle and nerve function, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which comes in handy when you're planning to hit the gym.
Get the Banana Nut Crunch recipe and nutrition info here.
2. Supercharged Flaxseed Oatmeal
Although this bowl of oatmeal is only 222 calories, it has about 30 grams of carbohydrates, 8 grams of protein and 8 grams of fat, which are sure to keep you powering through your workout. It also sneaks in a tablespoon of ground flaxseed, which adds some healthy omega-3 fatty acids to your quick breakfast.
While flaxseeds are generally high in fiber, this serving size keeps the fiber on the low end, so your digestion won't be disrupted during your sweat session. Flaxseeds are also linked to helping lower cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of heart disease, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Get the Supercharged Flaxseed Oatmeal recipe and nutrition info here.
3. Banana Breakfast Bars
You'll need to prepare these oatmeal bars in advance but they make an excellent grab-and-go pre-workout meal. At only about 179 calories, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of protein and 3 grams of fat, these DIY granola bars will give you a boost of energy but won't weigh you down during your workout.
Prunes are great for promoting digestive regularity, according to an October 2014 study published in Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, but if you find that they cause you to run to the bathroom, consider sweetening your bars with another dried fruit (like dates).
Get the Banana Breakfast Bars recipe and nutrition info here.
4. Overnight Apple Pie Oat Parfait
If you're not a fan of cooking breakfast before the sun's up, overnight oats are probably the best way to go. Prep this dish the night before your early workout for a stress-free morning. With 63 grams of carbs and some protein, these overnight oats will keep you satiated through a long training session.
Oats are a wonderful whole grain that deserves a place in your usual meal plan. Oats are rich in nutrients like magnesium, which helps your body process protein (great for building muscle) and helps promote healthy muscle and nerve function, according to the NIH.
Get the Overnight Apple Pie Oat Parfait recipe and nutrition info here.
Read more: Magnesium for Muscle and Joint Aches
5. Toasted Coconut Smoothie
Smoothies are another superb pre-workout option, especially if your body doesn't digest whole food too well before a workout. This toasted coconut smoothie will keep you satiated with 21 grams of carbs, 3 grams of protein and 8 grams of fat.
This tropical blend contains healthy, unsaturated fats, which can help promote satiety throughout your day. Unsaturated fats are great for your heart health and are tied to helping improve cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of heart conditions, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Get the Toasted Coconut Smoothie recipe and nutrition info here.
- Mayo Clinic: "Eating and Exercise: 5 Tips to Maximize Your Workouts"
- American Council on Exercise: "The Worst Things to Eat Before a Workout"
- National Institutes of Health: "Potassium"
- Mayo Clinic: "Does Ground Flaxseed Have More Health Benefits Than Whole Flaxseed?"
- Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics: "Systematic Review: The Effect of Prunes on Gastrointestinal Function."
- National Institutes of Health: "Magnesium"
- Mayo Clinic: "Dietary Fats: Know Which Types to Choose"