Should I Eat Breakfast Before A Workout


Should i eat breakfast before a workout? Eating breakfast before working out is one of the most common questions brained people ask themselves before and after working out. There are numerous myths about whether we should or shouldn’t eat a breakfast before a workout, so let’s go into greater detail and understand exactly what happens to your body after eating a meal. A great meal is any high-energy meal including eggs, peanut butter or sprouts but the main goal is to consume foods that are high in protein. You can tweak this diet depending on your workout routine and your body type.

Breakfast Before or After a Workout?

Should I eat breakfast before or after a workout?

There are some debates you and your buddies will never settle. That’s all right. We’ll do it for you. (We did it for a reader’s debacle over the most important exercise, pushups or pullups.)

The question of the day remains preferential: Is it better to eat breakfast before or after a workout? Some people aren’t hungry in the morning, while others believe they won’t have enough energy without getting something in their system before hitting the gym or pounding the pavement. But research has taken a stance.

The premise: Breakfast is billed as the most important meal of the day—but you may want to hold off on eating it until after your daily workout. Researchers in Belgium set up a six-week study to determine if the order of men’s morning routines would make a difference in terms of weight loss and other health aspects. “We hypothesized that training in the fasted state would be a better strategy to improve fat metabolism,” says the study’s lead author Karen Van Proeyen, Ph.D. “However, we were rather surprised that almost all measured parameters were more beneficially affected following a training program before breakfast, compared with a similar training session after breakfast.”

The set-up: The researchers recruited 28 healthy, active men and tweaked their daily diets to include 50 percent more fat and 30 percent more calories (to enhance the effect). The men were then broken into three groups. The first group endured no exercise at all, while the other two groups were both given grueling morning exercise routines. Four times a week, they ran and cycled at intense levels. However, of those two groups, one worked out after a carbohydrate-rich breakfast and drank sports drinks throughout their workout. The other group drank only water and ate breakfast after hitting the gym.

The results: The group that didn’t exercise at all gained an average of more than six pounds (we’re surprised it wasn’t more!). They also developed unhealthy conditions that are often precursors of diabetes including an insulin resistance. The men who ate breakfast before exercising also gained weight (although only about half as much as the first group) and similar cautionary diabetes signs. The group that exercised before breakfast gained almost no weight and showed no signs of insulin resistance. They also burned the extra dietary fat more efficiently.

Is It Safe to Work Out on an Empty Stomach?


Should you work out on an empty stomach? That depends.

It’s often recommended that you work out first thing in the morning before eating breakfast, in what’s known as a fasted state. This is believed to help with weight loss. However, working out after eating may give you more energy and improve your performance.

Read on to learn the benefits and risks of working out on an empty stomach, plus suggestions for what to eat before and after exercise.

Does working out on an empty stomach help you lose more weight? 

Exercising on an empty stomach is what’s known as fasted cardio. The theory is that your body feeds on stored fat and carbohydrates for energy instead of food you’ve recently eaten, leading to higher levels of fat loss.

Research from 2016 points to the benefits of working out in a fasted state in terms of weight management. The study among 12 men found that those who didn’t eat breakfast before exercising burned more fat and reduced their caloric intake over 24 hours.

Some research dispels this theory. A 2014 study on 20 women found no significant differences in body composition changes between groups who ate or fasted before working out. As part of the study, researchers measured body weight, percent body fat, and waist circumference over four weeks. At the end of the study, both groups were shown to have lost body weight and fat mass.

More in-depth research over a longer period of time is needed to expand upon these findings.

Working out on an empty stomach could also lead your body to use protein as fuel. This leaves your body with less protein, which is needed to build and repair muscles after exercise. Plus, using fat as energy doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to lower your overall body fat percentage or burn more calories.

Is it safe to work out on an empty stomach? 

While there’s some research to support working out on an empty stomach, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s ideal. When you exercise on an empty stomach, you may burn valuable energy sources and have less stamina. Low blood sugar levels may also leave you feeling lightheaded, nauseous, or shaky.

Another possibility is that your body will adjust to continually using fat reserves for energy, and start to store more fat than usual.

Is eating before a morning workout necessary?

Whether to eat before a morning workout depends on your goals, the type of workout and its duration, and your individual health.

After a long night of sleep, your blood sugar levels are lower than when you’ve recently eaten. This might make you feel sluggish and tired during your workout.

Therefore, a small snack before a morning workout may help increase your blood sugar levels and give you energy to perform your best.

For many, working out soon after eating can cause stomach upset since the food has not had a chance to digest.

However, while it may be tempting to exercise in a fasted state, with no breakfast or snack since you woke up, this may hinder your performance in some types of exercise.

That said, most people can safely exercise without eating beforehand unless they’re exercising at high intensity for 60 minutes or longer.

Those with specific performance goals or medical conditions may need to eat before working out. For example, people with blood sugar issues such as diabetes should make sure they’re properly fueled first.

If you have a medical condition, consider working closely with a healthcare professional to find the approach that’s best for you.

All in all, pre-workout nutrition is highly individualized. It’s most effective when you tailor it to your lifestyle, goals, and body. What works for one person may not work for another, so it’s important to experiment and see what works best for you.


For most people, eating before a morning workout is optional and depends on your goals, the type of workout you’re doing and its duration, and how your body responds to food. That said, a small snack may enhance your performance.

Cardio training

Choosing the right pre-workout fuel can help support a cardio workout, also known as cardiorespiratory exercise.

High intensity, short duration

Duration of 30–45 minutes or less.

High intensity, short duration cardio exercise mostly uses muscle glycogen as fuel. Most people have enough glycogen stored in their muscles to sustain this type of exercise without needing to eat.

Examples of this type of exercise include:

  • indoor cycling classes
  • high intensity interval training

That said, if you’re exercising before breakfast, you may want to have a snack containing 15–75 grams of carbohydrates, depending on your preferences and your upcoming exercise session. Some athletes may want to consume even more.

Doing this 30–60 minutes before exercising may promote optimal performance.

Foods you could fuel up with include:

  • toast with almond butter
  • whole grain crackers with cheese
  • a banana
  • milk or a plant-based beverage
  • figs with peanut butter
  • applesauce

For some people, exercising on an empty stomach doesn’t cause any issues. If you find that works best for you, then continue it. However, if you feel lightheaded or weak, it’s probably a sign you should have something to eat.

Moderate to high intensity, long duration

Duration of 60–90 minutes or more.

If you plan on exercising at a moderate to high intensity level for longer than 60–90 minutes, it’s probably best to have a small meal or snack first.

This type of exercise might include:

  • running
  • cycling
  • rowing
  • cross-country skiing

During exercise, your body uses a mix of carbohydrates and fat as fuel. However, your body burns fat much more slowly than carbohydrates to fuel your muscles and sustain the workout.

Therefore, opt for a small meal or snack that contains 15–75 grams of carbohydrates plus some protein. Eat at least 1–3 hours before your workout — this gives your body time to digest the food.

Foods you could fuel up with include:

  • a fruit smoothie made with milk and a banana
  • a small bagel with peanut butter
  • oatmeal with berries
  • scrambled eggs and toast

Low to moderate intensity, long duration

Light exercise makes fewer demands on your body. Therefore, you don’t necessarily need to eat as much beforehand.

Exercise in this category might include:

  • an hourlong walk
  • tai chi
  • a gentle yoga session

If you’re finding that you’re hungry in the middle of your workout, you may want to try having a small, protein-rich snack before you start. This will help curb your appetite without unwanted stomach discomfort.

Foods you could fuel up with include:

  • 1 cup (237 mL) of cottage cheese
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs
  • half a protein bar
  • a small protein shake
  • an omelet with vegetables


For workouts longer than 60 minutes, opt for a small meal or snack containing 15–75 grams of carbohydrates paired with a protein source. For low intensity exercise or exercise shorter than 45 minutes, you can have a small snack or go without eating.

Is it okay to work out before breakfast?

For some people, “eating very early in the morning can be particularly jarring,” San Francisco–based dietitian Edwina Clark, M.S., R.D., a certified specialist in sports dietetics, tells SELF. Or you might just not have time to eat, digest, and exercise before work in the morning. So, how bad is it to skip breakfast and go straight to the workout? 

In general, it’s okay to work out on an empty stomach, says Tanya Freirich, M.S., RDN. In fact, some research points to the benefits of fasted versus fed workouts. A systematic review and meta-analysis published in the British Journal of Nutrition in 2016 found that low- to moderate-intensity aerobic exercise performed in a fasted state promoted fat burning more than the same type of exercise performed after eating. Similarly, a 2019 review paper published in Proceedings of the Nutrition Societ Proceedings of the Nutrition Society concluded that a single bout of fasted exercise seems to promote fat burning and might even make you feel more satiated throughout the day. There’s limited research on the long-term effects of working out before breakfast, but the existing studies suggest it might have some beneficial effects on metabolic health.

However, there’s also research on the benefits of working out after breakfast. For instance, a meta-analysis published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports found that if you do aerobic exercise for 60 minutes or longer, you’ll have better endurance and performance if you do so after eating. Plus, there’s plenty of research to suggest that exercising after you eat helps to curb a blood sugar spike from that meal.

“The general consensus is that there are benefits and drawbacks to both fed and fasted exercise,” Freirich says. “Depending on various factors—fitness level, fasting tolerance, goals, and type and duration of exercise—the advice may differ.”

What should you eat for breakfast before a workout?

If you’re someone who needs some fuel for their morning workouts, the number one thing you’re looking for is carbs, which provide a quick hit of energy and a boost to your glycogen stores, which are the reserves of glucose (your body’s fuel) that your muscles can dip into when you’re working out, as Jessica Jones, M.S., RDN, CDE, cofounder of Food Heaven, previously explained to SELF. That typically means fruit or grains of some sort.

The next question is usually: Should you eat protein before or after a workout? If you can stomach it, Jones recommends including a modest amount of protein (likely in the form of eggs, milk, yogurt, or deli slices) in your pre-workout meal. This is particularly important if you’re going to be breaking down your muscles with weight training. That said, it’s still crucial to get some protein after your workout too, as this can help with muscle recovery.

 14 pre-workout breakfast ideas to try.

1. A few swigs of 100% fruit juice

Yes, we know that juice by itself is not a breakfast, but Clark says that this quick source of sugar can be a great choice for those who struggle with eating early but still want a little boost. Even just a small amount of carbohydrates can be enough fuel to offset the groggy fatigue you might feel right after rolling out of bed, Clark explains. 

2. A glass of chocolate milk

The same qualities that make this drink a great post-workout snack also make it an excellent pre-workout breakfast. Rich in carbs and protein to power you through your session, chocolate milk is an especially good pick if you’re craving sustenance but are not wild about solid food early in the morning. (Try lactose-free or chocolate soy milk if you have lactose intolerance.) 

3. A handful of cereal or granola

If a big bowl of cereal sounds like a lot, you can also just grab a handful of your favorite flakes, muesli, or granola. Clark says a small portion of ingredients like oats, corn or wheat flakes, dried fruit, nuts, and seeds can give you just enough carbs, fiber, and protein to sustain you. 

4. A banana

The ultimate grab-and-go breakfast, this idea in particular is great for anyone who wakes up slightly nauseous, as bananas are especially easy on the stomach. Pairing it with a spoonful of peanut butter (or another nut or seed butter, like almond or sunflower) will provide some protein and fat to keep you going.

5. A slice of toast with jam

Clark says this is a good pre-workout breakfast because it’s easy to digest and even easier to make.  If you like, you can beef up your toast by using a whole-grain variety (provided you haven’t noticed any stomach issues with fiber pre-workout in the past) or satiate more intense hunger by topping with a bit of nut butter. (Gluten-free toast works as well if you have issues tolerating gluten.)

6. A fruit smoothie

Smoothies are ideal before a workout because they’re packed with nutrients but go down fast and easy. And you can make your smoothie more or less filling depending on the ingredients you use. For instance, you could use only fruit and milk for a lighter smoothie—or for something heartier, add yogurt, nut butter, or protein powder. 

7. A cup of yogurt

Yummy yogurt is yet another easily digestible way to give your body carbs and protein pre-workout, no chewing required. If you prefer to buy unsweetened, you can add some honey or jam for some additional quick energy in the form of sugar. (A handful of granola or sliced banana would be tasty too.) If full-fat yogurt is too much for your stomach right before a workout, give reduced-fat or fat-free a go.

8. A breakfast cookie or two

While you probably won’t have time to whip up a batch of cookies first thing in the morning, you can prep these the night or weekend before. Breakfast cookies are often filled with a lot of the same good stuff that’s in granola, such as oats and other grains, fruit, honey, and nuts. Make them in bulk and store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer to have on hand at all times. 

9. A granola or protein bar

Compact, easy to eat, packed with nutrients, and portable, bars are pretty awesome. (O’Donnell-Giles always keeps multiple bars in her gym bag for all her pre-workout needs, while Clark is a fan of Kind Healthy Grains Bars.) Bars rich in protein are an especially great pick before weight-training workouts (although you’ll want to skip eating bars super-high in protein right before, say, a run, if they make you feel gross). And whether you buy them or make them yourself, there are endless flavor and texture options. (Just be sure to avoid varieties packed with added fiber, which might upset your stomach mid-workout.) 

10. Oatmeal made with milk

This classic combo is packed with complex carbs and protein, says Clark. Whether you prefer instant packets, stove-top, or overnight oats, you can go plain or quickly customize with some brown sugar, raisin, nuts, or berries. If you are dairy-free, use soy or pea milk (instead of, say, almond) to get a little extra protein. 

11. A mini bagel with a schmear of cream cheese

Mini bagels are the secret to satisfying your early-morning bagel cravings without overwhelming your stomach before a workout. If your stomach is okay with it, add a little cream cheese for a small amount of fat and protein. (Feel free to use a tofu-based dairy-free alternative if that better aligns with how you eat.) 

12. A hard-boiled egg and grapes

Jones says hard-boiled eggs are a nice way to get an easy-on-the-belly protein hit before a workout—not to mention, they’re convenient and mild enough for the early hours. Add a side of sugary fruit, like grapes, a nectarine, or a banana, for some fast-acting energy if you are more on the hungry side. 

13. A couple of deli-slice roll-ups

If you’re going to be doing aerobic exercise for more than an hour, make time for a slightly heavier breakfast before you get started. Slices of lean meat—turkey, for instance—are another way to get some easily digestible protein in before a sweat session, Jones says. Roll them up in a mini tortilla or wrap for a convenient and carb-y vehicle for your protein. If you’ve got the appetite and time to digest, you could also add a slice of cheese. 

14. A mini egg frittata and toast

Small pre-made frittatas (or egg muffins) baked in a muffin tin are another great way to get your morning eggs without having to set your alarm any earlier. Often made with a little cheese, meat, and/or veggies, they’re good for a heartier pre-workout fuel up. Make a batch of them during weekend meal prep, and grab one or two from the fridge on weekday mornings to eat chilled or briefly microwaved. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

TheSuperHealthyFood © Copyright 2022. All rights reserved.