Fueling Morning Lifting Sessions by Dr. Kristin Lander, DC, CISSN

Fueling Morning Lifting Sessions by Dr. Kristin Lander, DC, CISSN

Fueling Morning Lifting Sessions

By Dr. Kristin Lander, DC, CISSN

Of Fiercely Fueled Nutrition

Grab my
Free pre/post-training meals guide to quickly improve your training outcomes.

If there’s one question I’ve been asked the most in my 20 years in this industry, hands down it’s “how should I eat for a morning training session especially when I don’t want to feel full during training?”

The late 1990s and early 2000s brought us a lot of crazy nutrition tactics.  One of those that I believe has no place in the world of sports is fasted training.  

Now, I know a lot of bodybuilders swear by fasted a.m. training, so we end up hearing a lot about it by proxy.  Keep in mind, however, bodybuilders in that phase care solely about fat loss and not AT ALL about strength.  

In fact, most bodybuilders lose a fair amount of strength during fat loss phases and, while many of my friends who go through this say they don’t love that aspect, they keep the perspective their sport is all about how they look on stage… and they do a great job of getting absolutely shredded, btw.  Our sport, however, is all about how much we lift on the platform.  See the trouble in doing things like the bodybuilders do??

Whenever I have this conversation with someone who lifts fasted, most of them say “I’ve been doing it this way for years, it’s fine.” Have you ever heard the adage “you don’t know what you don’t know?” Oftentimes I can convince them to try the method I’m about to tell you just once and 95% of them report back saying “OMG I didn't know training could go so much better!”  Remember, just because you do something and it feels “fine” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s getting you the most optimal results.

If we can make a simple tweak to your nutrition to improve training session energy, it can be a complete game-changer.  Why? Better training energy likely means you are able to train harder, heavier, or add more sets or reps.  

Can you imagine the cumulative effects of doing this each and every training session?  You will literally get stronger faster! Not to mention, it boosts your confidence and drive when you feel better during training sessions and we definitely don’t want to rule out those important psychological and mindset aspects.

So, what is an athlete to do if they wake up at 5am and are at the gym by 5:30am? The answer is actually pretty simple, get some food on the way to the gym (or if you train at home, consume as you’re warming up):

  1. Consume a highly digestible form of protein.  Hydrolyzed whey protein isolate is best here.  If you’re vegan you could do a 45% pea protein/55% rice protein blend (which has slightly better digestibility than soy protein)
  2. Consume a quick digesting form of carbohydrate (look for something high on the glycemic index).  

A perfect example here is a serving of protein powder mixed with about 30-35g of pure dextrose powder.  Another great example is a protein shake and mini rice cakes, fat-free cereal or even fat-free candy.

Personally, I prefer an all liquid meal here because it’s easy to drink half right before the training session and then sip on the remaining half during the session, finishing it around the halfway point.  This will give you a steady stream of usable energy right when you’re needing it most, as opposed to something that takes a long time to digest and you won't derive the energy from that until long after your training session.

Foods to avoid in this scenario are ones that won’t immediately fuel your training sessions (but are great to consume away from training).  These are foods that take a long time to digest such as the slower burning carbs like whole grains, beans, lentils, fruit (even dried) and anything high in fat. 

So to recap, you want a quick digesting protein, plus a fast digesting carbohydrate immediately before (and even during) your early morning training sessions.

You can get the same exact framework that I use with some of the world's top lifters to improve their training performance and recovery with pre and post-training meals, regardless of what time of day you train.  

If you’ve been struggling to properly fuel those morning sessions or have been training fasted, this should give you a big boost in energy and ability to go heavy for longer.

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