Should You Eat Before Early Morning Exercise?

This is a question I am often asked…especially because one of our boot camp programmes starts at 06h00!

I have found that the people who do eat prior to coming to boot camp seem to be able to exercise at a higher intensity. And, at the end of the day…increasing the intensity of your workout and your performance is what counts!

Being able to workout at a higher intensity ensures that you burn more calories both during and long after your exercise session is finished. This post-exercise calorie burn is what really leads to amazing results.

The “early morning exercise on empty stomach” philosophy was one that was supposed to help you burn more fat during your workout. But, this is not true and is in fact an outdated philosophy that produces sub-optimal results. I have seen this with “in the trenches” experience in our boot camp programmes. People get much better results when they eat before early morning exercise. And, now there is even research to prove it!

My colleague (and nutrition guru), Joel Marion, goes into a little more detail on his blog. Joel also recommends the following eating prior to early morning exercise:

Try a couple scoops of whey protein before any morning “cardio” workout.

If however you still feel that your performance is less than optimal, then you may need to include some complex carbs (e.g. oats) together with your protein in that early morning meal.

Give it about a half hour to begin digesting and then go and tackle your workout.

Better performance = more calories burned = more fat loss = improved cardiovascular functioning = even better performance = even more calories burned = even more fat loss.

I would love to know whether you eat before your early morning workout. Leave your comments below and let me know your experiences.

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Leave A Reply (11 comments so far)


  1. Danelize
    7 years ago

    Currently I do my morning bootcamp on an empty stomach as I can not eat at 05:00 in the morning. But after reading this article, I’m thinking a protien shake is not a bad idea, as I sometimes don’t have the energy to push myself harder. Any suggestions?


  2. robinbuck
    7 years ago

    Thanks for your comment, Danelize. I think the protein shake is a great idea. Then just monitor the way you feel during and after your workout. I have a sneaky suspicion that you will be able to workout even harder…which means even better results!!


  3. Winston
    7 years ago

    I prefer having something to eat before working out, I definitely experience a better work out this way.


  4. Vida
    7 years ago

    I only eat after exercising. I prefer to only eat afterwards.


  5. robinbuck
    7 years ago

    Hi Vida, eating after exercise is also very important. Having a good mix of protein and carbs is a great way to help facilitate your recovery. This is best done within an hour after training, but preferably within 15-20 minutes!

    If you are exercising in the early morning, try something “light” (a small protein snack) prior to your workout and see how it goes. Majority of people find that this improves the quality of their workout and therefore their results too.


  6. Samantha Clothier
    7 years ago

    It’s hard enough getting to boot camp by 6.00am let alone trying to eat before hand!!


  7. robinbuck
    7 years ago

    Sam, you definitely make a good point! It’s tough to eat before boot camp. That’s why a protein shake often works well…it’s quick and easy.

    But, if eating beforehand makes the whole process too complicated or too much then getting to your workout takes priority…so just get there!!

    At the end of the day it’s really about what works for you. As long as you can track your results and they are what you want, then don’t make changes that make the process more complicated. Unless you can justify that the extra sacrifice is worth the better results.

    If you cannot eat before your workout, then just make sure your post workout nutrition is good.


  8. Melt-it-off
    7 years ago

    Thanks for sharing the research. It seems like a lot of people are unable to eat before or prefer to eat after their workout based on these comments. Protein shakes definitely seem like an easy way to get the nutrients you need to exercise effectively.


  9. Teri
    7 years ago

    I don’t eat beforehand – same thing as Danelize – I don’t feel like it. I would also have to get up earlier :-)However, the protein shake is an idea – I might try that. Thanks Robin.


  10. Nicky C.J
    7 years ago

    Eating or not eating before exercise is not so much an issue.
    The issue in question should be; What can you eat or drink before exercise? And how fast is your metabolism?

    Either way works for me. But having a smoothie made of (almonds, strawberry juice, and a banana)gives me a good start. Cashews and pumpkin seeds are also good.


  11. Barbara de Beer
    7 years ago

    I eat before a work out.A smoothie or fruit then I have 2handsfull of all bran,a hand full of muesli , teaspoon of grated pecan nuts, 1/2 cup yogurt. Than works for me.And I last till lunch time.