Sep 03, 2020 / Sports Medicine

Pre-Exercise Fuel for Morning Training Sessions

Many athletes avoid eating anything before early morning practices. This may leave them feeling slow and tired during practice and not eating anything until lunch, causing them to miss out on two key meals for the day: the pre-training meal and the recovery meal. The good news is that the stomach can be trained and there are ways to make sure the young athlete is not running on empty for that early morning practice.  
 
For the athlete just getting started with early morning fuel or who jumps out of bed and is at practice in 30 minutes, try small amounts of very simple carbohydrate foods to prevent upset stomach & cramping during practice.

Examples include:
  • 4 to 8 ounces of juice
  • 4 to 8 ounces of sports drink
  • 1 small or 1/2 a large banana
  • Dried fruit (raisins, mango, apples, pineapple)
  • Slice of white toast or mini white bagel topped with thin spread of jam or honey
  • Snack-size baggie of low-fiber, low-fat dry cereal
    • Try to keep amount of fiber & fat per serving as low as possible (example: choose Cheerios vs. granola)
  • Fruit leather
  • Low fiber, low fat granola bars
  • Handful of pretzels  
4 Key Points to Remember:
  1. As the athlete becomes used to these foods or drinks before practice, portions can be increased and a little more variety can be added, which will provide more energy for a longer period of time during his / her training session.  
  2. If more time is allowed between the pre-training meal and the training session, then a little more food may be eaten.
  3. Different athletes may also be able to tolerate different foods because their training sessions are different. A football or baseball player may be able to tolerate a little more protein during the pre-training meal, whereas an endurance runner or sprinter will most likely want to limit protein and focus completely on easily digested carbohydrates.
  4. For the athlete that still has trouble with this pre-training meal, remember that the meal the night before can be helpful. Include a balanced dinner and, if dinner was early, include a bedtime snack with quality carbohydrate and some protein so that the athlete will not have to rely entirely on the morning fuel to carry him or her through training.
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