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Morning nutrition

Old 05-12-24, 06:51 PM
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Morning nutrition

I tend to do most of my riding in the early morning before work. I’ve noticed that I don’t feel as strong in the morning compared to if I ride in the late morning or afternoon, and my average speeds tend to be slower.

I’m guessing that this has less to do with just being tired when I wake up and more to do with what I’m eating or not eating before I ride. I typically don’t eat a big breakfast before I ride, but I’ll usually have at least a clif bar and a banana.

Any recommendations for what I should be eating before early morning rides?
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Old 05-12-24, 07:30 PM
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How long are your morning rides (in time) and how soon after eating do you leave?

Lots of variables but honestly best nutrition is what tastes good and sits well in your stomach. If less than 3 hours it probably is not an issue with nutrition as most of us have about 3 hours of glycogen stores in our muscles and liver.

Best performance enhancing drug in the morning is caffeine btw.
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Old 05-12-24, 07:44 PM
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Originally Posted by datlas
Best performance enhancing drug in the morning is caffeine btw.
When on tour, my goal every morning is to get the stove fired up and the water heating for coffee before I have to “hit the head”. And I never have a big breakfast. Something like a bagel or fig bars will do.
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Old 05-12-24, 08:23 PM
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I think it was in a Hammer Nutrition article that recommended NOT eating a meal within 3 hours of a ride. The idea being you don't want to be digesting a full meal while riding. On the other hand, they said if you're riding many hours after your last meal, I.E., first thing in the morning, then eat something like a gel 10 minutes before your start. And of course fuel the ride as you go.

I think something along these lines is what works best for me. Though I might eat a small meal within 3 hours before a ride. But I think I do notice if I've eaten a full meal and then try to ride moderately hard. It just doesn't work well. I don't feel bad, I just don't feel energetic. I suspect because resources are going to digestion.

The thing that works best for me, is to drink my fuel as I ride and I try to eat around 150-200 cal per hour if the ride is under 4 hours. Longer then that and I eat as well as drink fuel because 150-200 cal per hour is only about 1/3 the calories I'm burning. So, for longer rides I need to eat more to make sure I do not use all my glycogen.

Another way to look at it is I try to keep my ride calorie deficit to no more than 1,200 cal for the whole ride. So, I'll consume more calories per hour for longer rides.
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Old 05-13-24, 03:14 AM
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I would also pay attention to your hydration first thing in the morning. Chug down a couple of glasses of water when you wake up and then keep sipping a bottle before the ride. I agree with the other posters about not eating a full breakfast before the ride. If you are even slightly dehydrated in the morning then your performance will suffer.
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Old 05-13-24, 05:15 AM
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Funny you say that because mornings are actually the better in terms of peak performance. Your body is all rested up and ready to take some strain. My best rides are always in the AM.

I don't usually eat much before a ride, but if I feel like I need something in my stomach to support me, I'll have 1 big protein pancake with fruits, yogurt, maple sirup and peanut butter at least an hour before my ride. Otherwise, I leave on an empty stomach and eat down the road.

Oh, and make sure you get plenty of hydration too. I always chug 500-1000ml of water first thing in the morning when I wake up.
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Old 05-13-24, 06:29 AM
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For all the silly so-called human theories on nutrition, and there are endless, you'll find literally everything works for somebody.
Long ago I could ride for hours in the morning after a good night of drinking. I was already fueled
Nowadays morning meals are my largest, and I can eat and ride within an hour. What one eats varies with everyone. As someone who ate primarily fruit for a few years at a time, just one measly banana isn't much at all. Plus, what most people see as a banana is to me, not even fully ripe unless it has many dark spots on it and is deep yellow. As long as it's not soft, the more ripe the better. A bright yellow banana with some green ends, just blah..... not as much available energy there. I've already introduced too many of my own biases, so I'm out.

Basically, Low on energy in the morning ? Eat more of whatever agres with you. Forget about the whirlwind of "rules" that would rule your life if you'd let them.
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Old 05-13-24, 07:52 AM
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Old 05-13-24, 07:57 AM
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Originally Posted by eduskator
Funny you say that because mornings are actually the better in terms of peak performance.
I like mornings too, but there's not much evidence for that. In fact, just the opposite.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/art...A00)%20%5B4%5D.

However, I have also heard knowledgable people say that you shouldn't try to train against chronotype, to wit, work out when it feels good.

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Old 05-13-24, 08:07 AM
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Word of the day : chronotype.
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Old 05-13-24, 08:21 AM
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I typically ride mid-day and go for a run first thing in the morning. After the run I have a decent size breakfast. Prior to the ride I will have something like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or I will bonk.
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Old 05-13-24, 08:24 AM
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Originally Posted by datlas
Word of the day : chronotype.
There's a word for everything nowadays.
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Old 05-13-24, 08:24 AM
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When I rode in the mornings before work, I didn't eat before. Just coffee. That was good for rides up to 90 minutes. Then I'd have breakfast after.
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Old 05-13-24, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by MoAlpha
I like mornings too, but there's not much evidence for that. In fact, just the opposite.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/art...A00)%20%5B4%5D.

However, I have also heard knowledgable people say that you shouldn't try to train against chronotype, to wit, work out when it feels good.
May-be on week-ends, but I confirm that I am not at 100% when going for a bike ride after 8 hours of work in front of a computer screen.

I totally agree with you on the ''work out when it feels good'' thing. To me, week-end mornings, fasted, are the best. I eat 50-100g of carbs / hour during the ride, of course, but I always start fasted.
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Old 05-13-24, 09:04 AM
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Meal isn't going to help you in the morning for cycling. It might not hurt you either, but the wrong stuff in your stomach might hinder your performance. If your stomach is feeling a little bloated or queasy the first 45 minutes of your ride, then that might be what's slowing you down. So change what you eat or eat less of it. Or just don't eat till you get home.

Do make sure you stay hydrated while on the bike. A glass of water before any ride is a good idea. Gels, snacks or a mix in your bottles while you are riding will do more than anything you can eat immediately before the ride.

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Old 05-13-24, 09:11 AM
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Originally Posted by eduskator
May-be on week-ends, but I confirm that I am not at 100% when going for a bike ride after 8 hours of work in front of a computer screen.

I totally agree with you on the ''work out when it feels good'' thing. To me, week-end mornings, fasted, are the best. I eat 50-100g of carbs / hour during the ride, of course, but I always start fasted.
I used to be able to ride in the mornings, but since I work for a company that's headquartered on the East Coast, I tend to have meetings on THEIR schedule, so mornings are out. I now do my midweek rides after work Initially I found that I didn't have energy late in the day. Also, sometime between 3 and 4 PM I feel like I need a nap. So, I started having a cup of coffee and a couple rice cakes with peanut butter at about 3. That's made a big difference.
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Old 05-13-24, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Mtracer
I think it was in a Hammer Nutrition article that recommended NOT eating a meal within 3 hours of a ride. The idea being you don't want to be digesting a full meal while riding. On the other hand, they said if you're riding many hours after your last meal, I.E., first thing in the morning, then eat something like a gel 10 minutes before your start. And of course fuel the ride as you go.

I think something along these lines is what works best for me. Though I might eat a small meal within 3 hours before a ride. But I think I do notice if I've eaten a full meal and then try to ride moderately hard. It just doesn't work well. I don't feel bad, I just don't feel energetic. I suspect because resources are going to digestion.

The thing that works best for me, is to drink my fuel as I ride and I try to eat around 150-200 cal per hour if the ride is under 4 hours. Longer then that and I eat as well as drink fuel because 150-200 cal per hour is only about 1/3 the calories I'm burning. So, for longer rides I need to eat more to make sure I do not use all my glycogen.

Another way to look at it is I try to keep my ride calorie deficit to no more than 1,200 cal for the whole ride. So, I'll consume more calories per hour for longer rides.

Of course Hammer is in the business of selling nutrition other than regular meals.

I can tell you from personal observation that Pro cyclists eat meals within 3 hours of racing. Typical before a long stage a full meal a couple of hours before including fat and protein, then a smaller serving of carbs like a bowl of serial 45 minutes or so before.

i had breakfast about 90 minutes before a stage of the Tour of the Bahamas, with FloydLandis and he ate a full omelette bacon, bagel, fruit.

but to the OP’s question half a cliff bar and a banana is more than adequate for a couple of hour ride.
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Old 05-13-24, 05:26 PM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh
Of course Hammer is in the business of selling nutrition other than regular meals.e.
Indeed.

In the summer, I try to be on the road by 8am, so they are saying that I eat breakfast at 5am? Remember, this is supposed to be fun, right?
On the other hand, Sunday the Mrs. and I rode our tandem for mother's day and stopped midway for a big brunch. While it was great, maybe not a great idea to eat a huge meal, then hop back on the bike. We were both hurtin' on the way back. Wow, would I do that again? Yes, yes I would.
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Old 05-13-24, 05:49 PM
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My performance is better in the mid to late morning than the early morning, but hey my work and family commitments dictate that I need to train early. Gotta work with the cards in your hand. You're not going to be up long enough to meaningfully benefit from added glycogen or other macro nutrients (from a meal) when you're on dawn patrol, so a glass of water first thing, some coffee and then something to top off the blood sugar does the trick. For me, that's a banana and then some sort of mini pastry or something.
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Old 05-13-24, 06:17 PM
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Way Back In The Day....

Ha... When I was commuting to work I was doing a 15 to 20 mile road bike ride. I carried minimal equipment on a very light weight bike for the time. I had to rise early for the ride and had a hard time adjusting to the early energy expenditure. Also I was one of those skinny guys... Who Knew...

The one thing that I did that gave a noticeable improvement in my fast challenging ride was having a scoop of Whey Protein in liter of Apple Juice. My mix was simple. The Whey Protein had about 30 grams of protein at about 160 calories per scoop. The Apple Juice was just a frozen can of 100% Apple Juice, 600 calories, mixed into a liter of water. I would drink half of it before leaving the house and the other half on the road. For me the calories and protein were a fix...

I will not go into all the different recopies and mixes I attempted. Many of them ended with projectile vomiting during my ride. I do know that if I was not going as fast as I could and doing a more relaxed ride I probably could have eaten more solid food.
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Old 05-13-24, 09:45 PM
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IME Hammer is correct. It's either 3 hours before or a gel immediately before for optimal performance. What one is trying to prevent is starting during the almost inevitable drop in blood sugar soon after a meal. Of course it's stupid to get up at 4, eat, go back to bed, and ride at 7:30. So one does the alternative. OTOH some brevets start late in the day and the 3 hour thing is perfect. With really fast stuff like maltodextrin, it's been convenient for me to slug some down 2 hours before a morning event start and do just fine. As others have said, it doesn't matter for a 90' ride as long as you don't eat a meal. A more common approach for long rides is to do the gel on an empty stomach before the start thing, then start sucking on that food bottle or gels or whatever after about the first 30'.
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Old 05-14-24, 05:08 AM
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Originally Posted by bblair
Indeed.

In the summer, I try to be on the road by 8am, so they are saying that I eat breakfast at 5am Remember, this is supposed to be fun, right?
On the other hand, Sunday the Mrs. and I rode our tandem for mother's day and stopped midway for a big brunch. While it was great, maybe not a great idea to eat a huge meal, then hop back on the bike. We were both hurtin' on the way back. Wow, would I do that again? Yes, yes I would.
They are not actually suggesting you do that. They are talking about an ideal scenario, which is to eat your meal at least 3 hours before riding. If that is not practical then you have to make a sensible compromise. For an early start that could mean having a late night meal and skipping breakfast entirely and/or having a much lighter breakfast an hour or so before you head out.

The take-home advice (if performance matters to you) is not to eat a large meal right before you ride - like you did with your brunch.
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Old 05-14-24, 07:12 PM
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During the week, I usually ride 60-90 minutes, and all I have is a cup of coffee and a glass of water about 45 minutes before my ride. Saturdays are my endurance ride. That’s anywhere from 40- 120 miles depending on what I’m training for. For those rides, I usually have my coffee, one serving of oatmeal (half a cup of oats prior to cooking) with just some salt, one egg and one egg white. I found the extra egg yoke was just a bit too heavy for me. I eat this Saturday breakfast 1.25- 2 hours prior to getting in the bike. I find this works great for me. I sometimes make it Friday night so all I need to do is microwave it and I’m eating as soon as possible, providing me more time before the ride.
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Old 05-15-24, 07:42 AM
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After decades of research, I have concluded that the optimum preride ( or preanything) breakfast is a poppy seed bagel with peanut butter and 2 cups of coffee. Sometimes a banana on the bagel too, which my wife thinks is weird, but I think it's perfect. And, I can pretend I am eating a healthy breakfast.

(the dog and I eat a lot of peanut butter. I get the expensive kind, she gets the store brand generic)
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Old 05-15-24, 08:12 AM
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Originally Posted by bblair
After decades of research, I have concluded that the optimum preride ( or preanything) breakfast is a poppy seed bagel with peanut butter and 2 cups of coffee. Sometimes a banana on the bagel too, which my wife thinks is weird, but I think it's perfect. And, I can pretend I am eating a healthy breakfast.

(the dog and I eat a lot of peanut butter. I get the expensive kind, she gets the store brand generic)
.

Animal abuse!

OP, A Cliff bar is a pretty big gut buster before a ride. You may have a lot of blood working down by your stomach to digest it, thus sapping your energy. When I take a Cliff bar on a ride, I quarter it, and put in a sandwich bag, and eat a quarter at a time with about a 20 min interval. You may want to try eating 1/4 or 1/2 with a cup of coffee and banana and then head out - but I would also eat the banana on the bike too if I felt hungry. You could be sabotaging yourself eating that much before heading out. Eat as you ride to maintain energy.
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