Do you eat a lot before excercising?


Well-Known Member
Jun 14, 2015
I'm an early morning person when it comes to exercising, but have no appetite in the morning. I typically start my ride 7-9 depending on the season and don't eat much more than a granola bar or a piece of fruit(for a 25-35 mile ride). My early morning runs are typically fasted ones, wake up, sip of water, and on the road(5 miles or so). The science may not be on my side with this one, but i've been like this my entire life. I told my brother this when I was riding one day (that I didn't eat breakfast) and he thought I was nuts.

Do you eat a full meal, very little, or nothing before exercising?
Before I go riding I usually only eat a minimal amount. The body obviously needs food as a source of energy but at the same time I wouldn't ever go riding after a full meal.

Light foods that provide enough energy for the amount of miles I'm doing and maybe a nutrition bar and energy drink that I take along with me are the only foods I'll eat.
I usually ride in the evening without eating. This trains the body to burn fuel efficiently. In the mornings I try and wait at least an hour after eating.
I provide an hour of rest after eating a full meal before I hit the road. I need something to fuel me up and it should be a real full meal. Not sure if I can last the day eating granolas alone or shakes
I definitely have to eat before exercise, but it doesn't have to be big portions. Just a small meal.
Not really. I like to exercise in the morning, just like you, but since I usually cycle or run that early I need energy so I almost always eat half a sandwich and half a cup of yogurt. That's like my pre-workout breakfast and has been for a really long time.
I try not to eat any closer than an hour or so before working out or cycling. If I don't stick to that, I usually end up getting kind of pukey, even if I'm not pushing myself very hard. I do try to eat something that will keep me energized though, like a couple eggs and some whole grain toast, I just have to give it time to settle.

A lot of people I ride with bring snacks or whatever, but I can never make myself consume more than water when I'm cycling. The exception is some of the longer rides we do. If we're on the road/trail for seven or eight hours the need for my body to refuel usually keeps whatever I'm eating in my stomach.
If I would not ride, I would just wake up and wait for my lunch instead of eating my breakfast. I barely eat breakfast anyway, just have a cup of coffee I guess. But, If I would ride, not matter how early I should wake up in the morning, I would make sure I have something, maybe two eggs, rest for half an hour and then go for my ride.
A lot depends on your age and the level of the ride. Younger people tend to have faster metabolisms and may ride harder. So they can survive quite a long time on the body fat that everyone has for perhaps a quarter of their body weight. Older people cannot do this and require not only a breakfast before riding but consumption of food fairly often throughout the ride. Or else they run into the inevitable "bonk".

Being older now I cannot climb at the rate of the younger people on long climbs but with age grows wisdom and I will often watch the younger people ride off into the distance only to reach the top of a long hard climb with them slumped over the bike in some available shade tree as I ride relatively unscathed over the top and off into the distance.

But of course I also watch them lose weight almost overnight from their rides while it takes me so much longer I begin to wonder if riding doesn't put weight on.

Remember that you body needs easily accessed nourishment and that without that you can damage yourself with hard efforts. But keeping that in mind do what your body says to do.
I can't go without breakfast. No matter what the plan of the day is. Cup of coffee and finish waking up. Have breakfast, cold cereal and banana, get ready to go to the gym and lift weights or get into my cycling cloths. By the time I actually get on the bike or workout it's been about forty five minutes to an hour since I had breakfast. I always take a health bar of some kind just in case I loose energy.
My general rule when it comes to food intake prior to training is to have at least one meal and one snack. This means I rarely train early in the morning unless I've had enough time to eat. Also, I need to have hydrated sufficiently too, which is helped I think by consuming salts and glucose as solid food along with fluids.
I don't like to eat a lot before exercising I just eat a protein bat or a milkshake. However, i prefer eating more after the exercise.
Before is not very precise. I eat before exercising, of course, but never right before. Two or three hours before workout is fine. However, after my workout I like to eat immediately. Usually I would take my shake and some protein rich food. Also energy is very important so carbs as well. I am a vegetarian so calories are a bit of an issue for me. Nevertheless, I manage my weight to be ideal for my height. Maybe I have few kilos less but It is OK. Anyway, never eat right before workout because you will have problems with all that food in your stomach. You will feel heavier and you could even throw up.
It is important to have energy for a workout so I try not to be hungry before a workout. However, it is not good to be too full. I try to eat things like kind bars and bananas before a workout so I am filled up and full of energy, but I won't get a stomach ache from working.
It depends. Riding I can eat quite a bit before. Jogging or running not so much. Maybe just a little bit of fruit or I'll make sure I can space the time so it digests. I can't really jog on a full stomach. I will have something no matter what I am doing or at least plan on a break.
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It depends. Riding I can eat quite a bit before. Jogging or running not so much. Maybe just a little bit of fruit or I'll make sure I can space the time so it digests. I can't really jog on a full stomach. I will have something no matter what I am doing or at least plan on a break.

I think that's the key, instead of the amount you eat, you should be more focused on what you eat, before you exercise, like you say yourself.

What you need is something to give you that energy boost you need to be able to perform, so having a large amount of food will actually have a detrimental effect to your ride, jog or workout.
I have a high school chum who has just been promoted as manager of a gym. She works with that gym for more than 10 years now. As per her advice, the best time to exercise is when you are not hungry and when your stomach is not full. And although some people suggest an exercise before breakfast is the best, maybe my friend is right because you tend to be weaker when you just woke up.
I do not eat a lot before riding or doing other exercise. However, I do try to always have a protein shake. I wake up, get my daughter fed and off to school and then my morning routine for riding begins. I normally have a protein shake before I ride, take a bottle of water with me and then after I have returned and been home for an hour or so, I might have some boiled eggs, a BLT sandwich or a bowl of oatmeal.
I have eaten nothing at all before starting bike rides as long as 380 miles and eating before rides is not my usual practice because I want to maximize fat use during the ride and eating too soon before a ride ruins fat oxidation. The extent to which an athlete can access and use fats during exercise is highly individual although trainable. Some are fat burners and some are sugar burners. If sugar burners are not topped up, they bonk pretty quickly. But a 25 mile ride should not require any food during the ride. Some bring food for 50 mile rides while others just drink water until maybe going on a Century.

If I eat before a ride, the meal will be at least 2 hours beforehand. If it is a TT or Crit type effort, it will be at least 3 hours before the start. Something like this

A little bit of cold rice with whole milk and cinnamon. Coffee, stevia, and coconut oil.

3 eggs and 2 pieces of toast. bacon. Coffee, stevia, and heavy cream.
I have the same problem, not much of an appetite when I get up in the morning. I was like this since I was a kid. The doctor advised me to have something to munch on in the morning, because if I don't it will mess with my blood sugar levels and create complications later in life. My appetite seems to normalize around midday and I can enjoy a proper meal. But if I'm cycling I don't like being full of food, in order to avoid nausea.