Ask the Health Coach: Should I Eat Before a Morning Workout?

Maura explains what your body needs before and after workouts.

Hi Maura,

Here’s a question: My workouts are generally mid-morning. Not quite enough time beforehand for a substantial breakfast. What should I eat? And when?



Hi Michele,

Good question. I hear this a lot, especially since yogis are usually always advised to practice on an empty stomach. But that doesn’t work for everyone and doesn’t always apply to other fitness areas.

First of all, if you are diabetic or have blood-sugar imbalances, eat something. From there, my advice would differ depending on the workout. For a workout like gentle yoga or walking (something not so strenuous), a piece of fruit or yogurt should be sufficient. Then eat something heartier afterwards. If the workout is going to be more vigorous (like CrossFit or running), try to find something more substantial and easy to digest; breakfast quinoa or a high-protein smoothie (try adding chia seeds or tofu instead of a sugary protein powder) will provide good fuel and lasting energy. And you’ll want to eat about an hour before start time. (If you eat too close to your workout, you’ll feel sluggish or want to vomit because you’re body is using all its energy to digest your meal.)

Then post-workout (within 30 minutes of the end of your workout), if you don’t have a lot of time, refuel with some fruit with peanut butter or veggies with hummus to make sure your energy levels don’t crash. If you can eat a meal, try chicken and veggies or an omelet with avocado and greens.

For vigorous exercise, the post-workout meal is just as critical as the food you eat beforehand. It is crucial to both recovery and your ability to train consistently. Your body needs and will love a healthy combination of protein (for growth and repair) and carbs (to restore glycogen levels), with minimal fats. And don’t forget the importance of hydration. Super important. Drink up.

Enjoy the movement,

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Maura Manzo is a yoga teacher and health coach specializing in integrating diet, health and wellness. She supports others in becoming their best possible selves. Maura is available for private instruction and coaching, as well as on-site corporate classes and speaking engagements. She is co-creator of the Beyond Asana 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training and the Art of Letting Go: Maya Tulum Mexican Yoga Vacation. Learn more about her teaching schedule, coaching practice and yoga trainings at