If one of your goals this year is to lose weight, I hope that is going well. My weight loss journey certainly is not going well. I just weighed myself and found out I have gained two pounds this year. I feel like a colossal failure.
I guess I must really find that work-life balance to take care of myself, which is not that easy, if like me you are over 40 and trying to balance a child/children, work, and home life. I have tried squeezing in afternoon workouts with my daughter present and she gets bored too easily, even with Zumba, which I thought she would love. So, I am going to have to bite the bullet and start working out early in the morning, which brings me to the question of what to eat before a morning workout to lose weight.
What To Eat Before A Morning Workout To Lose WeightTo eat or not to eat
There is still a lot of buzz about whether exercising first thing in the morning without having anything to eat will help you lose weight faster. So, before answering the question of what to eat before a morning workout to lose weight, the question I needed to ask was: “Should I even eat before my morning workout?”
A 2011 study concluded that if you are performing moderate endurance exercise in the morning to lose weight, you are better off having a light meal before you exercise than exercising on an empty stomach.
A 2014 study found that you lose the same amount of body fat regardless of whether or not you exercise on an empty stomach. However, a 2016 study found that you burn more fat while exercising and you eat less throughout the day if you exercise on an empty stomach. This should help you lose weight faster.
What do experts say about exercising on an empty stomach? The American College of Sports Medicine says that “You do not want to exercise on an empty stomach. In fact, exercising in an unfed state leads to an increase in protein loss making it more difficult for the body to both repair and build muscle”. And I know that if I have trouble repairing and building my muscle, I feel sore making it easier to give up on exercise.
So, since there is still confusion as to whether it is actually better to eat before your morning workout, you can do what works for you. For me, I think I need a little something in my stomach or else I will not be able to get through my morning workout.
What to eat before a Morning Workout to lose Weight: The Essentials
1. Eat some protein
You should eat protein before you exercise because:
- It increases your metabolism up to 2 full days after your exercise, causing you to lose body fat and increase your muscle weight.
- It helps you recover quicker from your exercise.
What sort of protein should you eat? You should consume high quality protein, which is protein that has all the amino acids you need for you to repair and gain muscle. Examples of high quality proteins include whey protein and other animal-based proteins such as milk and eggs. If you are vegan, soy is a good plant-based high quality protein.
2. Eat some carbs
When you exercise, your body relies on glycogen, stored carbohydrate in your muscles for fuel. These glycogen stores only last 90 minutes, so if you are going to be doing some kind of endurance exercise for more than 90 minutes, you will need carbs to fuel your workout. Plus, for me psychologically, I need that carb rush to keep me going, even though I can’t squeeze in more than 90 minutes for my workouts.
3. Drink some water
Yes, I know that water is technically not food, yet I had to include it because it is likely not on your mind, yet it is very important. Why? If you are dehydrated, a number of things happen such as:
- Less blood flows to your skin and you sweat less, making you more likely to suffer heat exhaustion, have a heat stroke or have cramps which may hamper your workout routine, resulting in less weight loss.
- Decreased energy making you not be able to exercise at higher intensities, resulting yet again in less weight loss.
- Decreased coordination which can be dangerous if you are on moving equipment such as a treadmill.
How much water should you drink? The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you drink 8 to 12 fluid ounces (1 to 1.5 cups) of water 10 to 15 minutes before you exercise. Another good tip is to drink a beverage containing salt as this will help you maintain fluid in your body, reducing dehydration.
Turbocharge Your Workout
4. Drink some coffee
If you are like me and want to speed up your weight loss, you should drink some coffee before your workout. I admit, I am not much of a coffee drinker, but it just may be worth it to get back in shape.
Okay, so back to the topic of coffee, specifically caffeine. Research shows that caffeine helps you access free fatty acids from the fat in your body. This allows you to conserve your glycogen stores.
Caffeine also helps you improve your workout performance. How? Caffeine causes the release of feel-good endorphins, which may reduce the pain you feel during a gruelling workout. Having a better workout lets you burn more calories, helping you lose more weight.
I can definitely attest to the power of caffeine. Years ago, when I was yet again trying to undo the consequences of emotional eating, I found that caffeine helped me power through my after-work evening workouts and I found I lost more weight.
Another benefit to drinking coffee for weight loss is that coffee increases your metabolism for at least 3 hours after you drink it, causing you to lose weight. Do you get enough sleep before your morning workout? If not, drinking coffee can increase your alertness so you are less likely to fall off your exercise bike during your workout … But, seriously, you do need to get enough sleep if you don’t want to derail your weight loss efforts, but that is a topic for another day.
When should you drink your morning cuppa? Our bodies absorb caffeine quickly, so you can drink it about 15 minutes before your workout.
What to eat before a Morning Workout: Sample Meal Plan
Here are some sample ideas to help you turbo charge your morning workout:
- Low fat Greek yogurt and a piece of fruit such as apple slices or strawberries
- Cottage cheese and some fruit
- A low calorie protein-packed nutrition bar
- Toast and low-fat cheese
And of course, do not forget to drink water and have some coffee!
Pulling it all together
So, there is still controversy about whether fasting before a morning workout will help you lose weight. If you are like me and decide to eat before your morning workout, you need to include carbs, protein, and water. To lose even more weight, adding coffee is a good idea.
I challenge you to eat (and drink) the right things before your morning workout … you have nothing to lose (except the weight) and everything to gain!