The fast track to losing weight is not always "eat less, lose more," especially when you include workouts in the picture. Especially if you work out early in the morning, you may be used to forgoing breakfast or your pre-workout snack. It's early, dinner just seems to have happened, and you do not want to overeat and annoy your stomach. And if your goal is weight loss, it's hard to imagine that more food, even just before training, can really help you achieve your goals. If your stomach does not growl, do you really need to eat before exercise?
Should you eat something before the morning workout to lose weight?
As it turns out, exercising in the morning on an empty stomach can actually complicate losing weight. "It may mean that you do not train so hard or so long because your body does not have the energy it needs," said registered dietitian Audra Wilson, LD, a bariatric dietician at the Northwestern Medicine Metabolic Health and Surgical Weight Loss Center in New York Delnor Hospital. And the more you exercise (think of HIIT), the more energy you consume and the more important your fuel will be before exercise, Audra told POPSUGAR.
The consideration? Your body uses less energy when you sleep, Audra said, but you still burn some calories, which means you may not be able to complete your morning workout on your own last night. Less energy can negatively impact your training, which in turn makes losing weight difficult. As Audra put it, "if you miss a pre-workout snack, you can burn fewer calories and be lousy overall, and refueling for exercise can improve overall performance and allow you to work longer and harder."
Many people swear by fast cardio as a form of weight loss, especially for fat burning. The research is contradictory, but no study has convincingly proven that fast training gives you a significant weight loss benefit, Audra told POPSUGAR. Either there was no difference between breakfast and breakfast when losing weight, or it turned out that fast training had a certain advantage, but exercise in general (fast or not) proved to be the biggest factor in losing weight.
To a degree, it depends on what works best for you. "Some may be fasting," Audra said, "but the benefits of a pre-workout snack are manifold." Pre-workout nutrition not only helps you perform better, but can also help you avoid injury and improve your body composition over time, Audra said. In this sense, when you wake up hungry, be sure to take a bite; If you do not, go to the gym and see how you feel. Even if you think you can work better without a snack, you should try a small one first to see how it affects your workout. You may not realize how much energy you need to inject with a little more fuel.
What to eat before a morning workout to lose weight?
For a weight-loss pre-workout snack, go for a 3: 1 carb to protein ratio for cardio workouts and a 2: 1 ratio for weight training, Audra said. "The key is keeping fiber and fat levels low," she explained. Fiber speeds up your digestion and fat slows it down. Too much of it before a workout annoys your stomach or lets you go to the bathroom.
In cardio, the main source of energy in your body is glycogen, a stored form of glucose that you get from eating carbohydrates. "Glycogen is stored in the muscles to use when activating these muscles in activities such as walking, running, elliptical training or cycling," Audra explained. If you go into cardio with depleted glycogen stores, you may feel lethargic and can not finish your workout. For a morning pre-cardio snack that maintains your energy and helps you lose weight, eat:
- A cup of grapes or berries with a low-fat cheese stick or Greek yoghurt
- Low-sugar cereal with milk  Toast with hard-boiled Egg
For a snack before weight training in the morning to lose weight:
- A small apple or half banana with almond butter
- Half an English muffin with fat cheese
Take some time to enjoy your snack digest, depending on your choice between 15 minutes and one hour. Learn more about what and when to eat before exercise.
Whatever you choose, Audra's recommendation was to always refuel before training, even if you're not hungry. "A small snack will replenish the overnight lost glycogen and provide energy for the upcoming workout," she said. Without fuel and especially without carbohydrates, you run the risk of feeling tired, injured and even lose muscle mass. With such possible consequences, it is definitely worth a try.
Image Source: Getty / KOLOstock