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Working out in the morning gives you an energy boost and ensures that you get your workout done before your schedule gets in the way. However, fueling these workouts can be a challenge, particularly if you're exercising right after you wake up. Drinking plenty of water and eating a balanced dinner the night before, a small, high-carbohydrate snack before your morning workout and a carbohydrate and protein-focused post-workout breakfast provides optimum nutrition for your morning workout.
Being well-hydrated throughout the day is essential for good health and optimal workout performance. After a night's sleep, your body is slightly dehydrated, so drinking before your workout is important. Drink at least 10 ounces of water before your workout and four to eight ounces every 15 to 20 minutes during your workout. Unless you're exercising intensely for more than 60 minutes, drinking an electrolyte-replacement drink during your workouts is probably unnecessary, unless it's hot or humid. Drink about 16 to 24 ounces of water with your post-workout breakfast, and drink plenty throughout the day to keep yourself hydrated.
Night Before Workout
Since your dinner the night before may be the last full meal before your morning workout, it is important to have some carbohydrates to give your muscles stored energy. Include plenty of complex carbohydrates, such as rice, whole-grain bread or a baked potato. A serving of lean protein and some vegetables provides nutrients and keeps you full throughout the night so that you don't wake up hungry at 2 a.m. Eat until you're satisfied but not stuffed, since overeating before bed can disrupt sleep patterns.
If you're an early morning exerciser, a full, balanced breakfast three to four hours before your exercise session may not be a convenient option. A high-carbohydrate, moderate protein snack between 100 to 200 calories an hour before your workout provides fuel for your muscles and mind. Some good pre-workout snacks include toast with a small amount of peanut butter, a high-carbohydrate energy bar or a meal replacement drink. You may need to experiment with different foods to see what works best for you. However, if your workout is longer than 60 minutes or you have a late-morning workout planned, eating a carbohydrate and protein-focused breakfast two to three hours beforehand provides long-lasting fuel.
Follow up with a breakfast focused on carbohydrates and protein within two hours of finishing your workout. The protein will help repair and build muscle tissue, while the carbohydrates will replenish the energy stores depleted by your workout. Including some fat in your post-workout meal will provide flavor and increase feelings of fullness, which will help control hunger later in the day. Some examples of post-workout breakfasts include fruit with string cheese and crackers, eggs with toast and avocado, and yogurt with berries and almonds. If you can't eat a full breakfast right away, grab some juice, a sports drink or chocolate milk to replenish carbohydrates.