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Early Morning Workout Fueling

eeneyeeney Posts: 18
edited February 2019 in Training, fitness and health
Currently I do all of my workouts starting at 4:30-5:00 am as this is the only time available. Workouts are usually 80 to 130 TSS...I usually only have an espresso beforehand, therefore I won't have eaten since dinner, say 6pm the night previous.

My question is, would this be classed as 'fasted training' as I usually feel full from the previous nights dinner, therefore if I carb-load the night before will it get me through. More importantly, do you think not eating breakfast pre-workout could be reducing my training ability, and in the long term holding me back on improvement progression? For example, would I be able to put out more watts with breakfast, leading to more intense workouts and increase improvement progression? Obviously I want to get the most out of each session in order to meet my training goals.

If the answer is yes "you need breakfast", or is there something I can put in my water battle to help? Eating at 4am isn't that appealing.


  • Yes this would be classed as fasted riding I believe
    Never done it myself but I believe it is supposed to be for lower intensity rides and not HIIT
    You could eat a small bowl of porridge or a flapjack or just a banana?
  • Doesn't sound you have got your fuelling right, eating fruit and nothing else for 10 hours before a session isn't good.
    I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    Who has fruit for dinner ??

    You don't even need to carb load for a Marathon let alone a turbo session. How long are you riding?

    Just eat normally and there's no need for breakfast if you don't want it.
  • Why don’t you eat after 6pm?

    You’ll need glycogen for a hard turbo session. Whether you have enough stored from previous nights or not is completely your call.
  • eeneyeeney Posts: 18
    To simplify. For a 60-90 turbo session/workout of 70 to 120 TSS, timed in the early morning. Is it necessary to fuel/eat beforehand, or will a carb loaded dinner the night before suffice.

    I'm assuming that the more you achieve in each workout then the faster you can progress, as long as you rest appropriately in between sessions. Therefore, would eating breakfast allow for a slightly stronger workout, and lead to potentially faster progression as part of a training plan, say in 12 week blocks?

    Currently all of my sessions are early morning without breakfast, most of the time I feel suffice from the dinner the night before.... but I'm looking for others opinions of how to get optimum progress from the 12 hours per week I put in to training.
  • I could not train to a high intensity effectively without some carbs pre ride. I usually eat the moment I wake up whether I am riding or not. We are all different though, why not try it and see if it feels better or not
  • I commute in the morning and often don't have breakfast, or only have something small, as it would take too long to digest before I needed to leave anyway. I definitely feel a difference between completely fasted and partially underfuelled.

    Big dinner the night before after rest day -> Generally okay to do whatever
    Normal dinner night before after rest day-> Partially fuelled, can manage sustained tempo/sweetspot but VO2max + anaerobic stuff is super tough.
    Normal dinner night before, back to back days of training -> Can definitely feel the bite in the morning, Z2 starts feeling tougher, and pushing above that feels counter productive. On these days, I save the intensity for the ride home.

    The one benefit of actually experiencing the differences is that I now have a pretty good idea of when my legs aren't working as a result of lack of fuel vs fatigue. I definitely realise that in hindsight, certain times that i've bailed on workouts under the assumption I was fatigued have been due to poor fuelling.
  • thistle_thistle_ Posts: 6,971
    I think if I had anything more than half a slice of toast for breakfast immediately before a HIIT workout I'd get 2 breakfasts for the price of 1.
  • wavefrontwavefront Posts: 397
    Those are moderately intense sessions at between 0.84IF - 0.9IF. At the very lowest end of that bracket, if doing in a steady state you may well complete the fasted rides and feel ok but you're actually more than likely to be compromising the session. I suspect you're actually doing intervals and to get that average IF, much of your work will be closer to SS or threshold. At that intensity you should really eat/fuel/hydrate beforehand.

    Have a listen to the latest TrainerRoad podcast ep 194 for a bit of insight into fasted rides and whether it's good or not. ... -coach-194

    Forward to 57m50s ....
  • eeneyeeney Posts: 18
    wavefront wrote:'re actually more than likely to be compromising the session. ....

    Thanks - this was my thoughts, I was wondering if I was compromising sessions slightly. If I'm going to hurt myself 3 times a week then I want to ensure optimum performance to maximize adaptations.
  • wavefrontwavefront Posts: 397
    well done for getting up that early and making time! It's bloody hard to do. I get it's hard to eat beforehand and there's no easy way, but experiment and you'll find what works for you.

    Getting quality food in straight after the session is equally important so if you don't, that'd be something else to look at. I assume you're up so early to get the sessions in before work and it may all be rushed but don't skip it!
  • hostmanhostman Posts: 104
    I do all my morning training fasted, although I would typically start these at 7AM, not as early as you, most days I don't eat anything past 6PM (following TRE principles). I can do around an hour of quite hard interval training like this. Eating something like scrambled eggs on toast immediately after.

    However ... I am in a weight loss process currently, so it works for me. If I wasn't trying to loose weight I might have something before for sessions that are 45+ mins.
  • hostman wrote:
    I do all my morning training fasted, although I would typically start these at 7AM, not as early as you, most days I don't eat anything past 6PM (following TRE principles). I can do around an hour of quite hard interval training like this. Eating something like scrambled eggs on toast immediately after.

    However ... I am in a weight loss process currently, so it works for me. If I wasn't trying to loose weight I might have something before for sessions that are 45+ mins.

    At no point has the OP mentioned his training goals are to loose (sic) weight
    I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles
  • eeneyeeney Posts: 18
    Thanks for the input guys. Yeah, no need to lose any more weight, quite happy at 64kg.

    After some searching for food to eat within 30 minutes of working out (most was 1 -2 hours beforehand), I've put some Chia pudding in the fridge. I read that appropriate carbs and some protein will help the body optimise performance, which led me to the Chia putting with protein powder recipe.

    Eating after the workout isn't a problem. I jump of the bike and get the kids ready for school, so I'm basically in the kitchen for a while..
  • joey54321joey54321 Posts: 1,297
    I was doing up to 2 hrs of sweetspot work first thing in the morning without food (though I did take on some caffeine) and felt good and progressed well from it. If you are well rested you should have a close to 2,000 calories worth of glycogen in your muscles which is enough fuel for 60-90mins turbo session easy. Though I believe encouraging your brain to let you use it is another thing, you could skip breakfast but try an energy drink just to signal to the brain that you have calories incoming?
  • 100%100% Posts: 236
    Everything is a compromise but it's probably going to come down to you as individual and what you can stomach. I think this quite a nice high-level article on the subject from a reasonable source: ... g-workout/

    I'd definitely suggest trying the smoothie route - I also can't train too soon after eating solid food, I just feel terrible. Having the smoothie (or half) as soon as you get up (i.e. before you put your kit on) is probably worth trying.

    Don't forget you can also fuel *during* your workout. If you are not deliberately trying to train fasted or lose weight I would definitely be consuming an appropriate drink during it if you're going over 60 minutes. Don't forget part of this is not only your workout but ensuring you recover properly for the next so you want to replenish what you're burning during the session.

  • Always start the morning with a coffee, cherrios, porridge with blueberries and a pint or so of water before a cycle. I'm only a casual cycle rider though, but it seems to work for me. Don't get how people manage to ride on empty stomachs. Sever lack of energy.
  • eeneyeeney Posts: 18
    From the above replies and additional reading, if I want to optimum performance in morning workouts then it is important take on some fuel beforehand (and/or during):
    • Glycogen levels may high enough to get through a 60 minute workout if a suitable evening meal was eaten, unless perhaps you had a hard training day the day before, in which case you'll need more fuel.
    • The mental knowledge that 'food/fuel is coming' will encourage the body to more willingly release more energy when asked.
    • A post workout refuel is essential, but this refueling is assisted by fuel pre or during.
    Like others said, I have been fine getting through 60 minute workouts, probably due to glycogen stores, but I always wondered if I could get more out of my body in each workout.

    As a result I've taken to having a small refuel before the workout (chia pudding with Almond Milk and Protein Powder), and if more than 60 minutes, or a hard Zwift race I add powdered carbs to my drink bottle.

    First zwift race with this new format let to an increased FTP..... probably just coincidence.
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