The world can be divided into two groups of people. There are those who eat breakfast before a morning workout and those who don’t. There’s been a lot of debate lately around the question: Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? (Turns out…maybe not?) However, one thing is clear, if you’re hitting the gym or the track for a little A.M. training, properly fueling yourself is a must.
Whether you like it or not, sometimes having even just a small amount of nutrients in your stomach is great for giving you an extra bit of energy, jump starting your metabolism, and pushing you to the next level. Plus, having a little brekkie sets the tone for your eating habits for the rest of the day, says Brooke Alpert, M.S., R.D., C.D.N. and founder of B Nutritious.
If you’re not a breakfast person but you’re definitely a morning trainer, we’ve rounded up five of Alpert’s favorite light breakfasts to help fuel your next workout.
1. Banana and nut butter
“This is a great option if you can’t eat too much in the morning. Or if you don’t have too much time between waking up and exercising,” explains Alpert. “The banana offers readily available carbohydrates for immediate energy. The nut butter provides protein and some fat to help with muscle building and fullness,” she adds.
2. Smoothie with frozen fruit, greens, Greek yogurt, and milk of choice
“Pineapple and a small handful of spinach go really well together and contain fiber to help your digestive system get moving,” Alpert says. “Plus, the protein from the Greek yogurt will keep you going during your workout.” To make prep a little easier, Alpert suggests making little bags of fruit to keep in your freezer so you’re smoothie ready, any time.
3. Hardboiled eggs
A little protein can go a long way for athletes. It helps keep you full and helps with muscle growth and post-workout recovery. Alpert loves eggs because they’re an excellent source of protein and B Vitamins. “Even just one egg in the morning can help your energy levels,” she says. Plus, hardboiled eggs are so high in protein that they’re great for post-gym snacks, too. Fun fact: Protein is harder for the body to digest, so it actually burns more calories breaking it down into fuel!
4. Avocado toast
Looking for a bit more than a grab-and-go option? Avocado toast is a healthy, pre-workout eat that’s easy to make and easy to eat in the morning. “I find avocado very easy on the stomach. When it’s mashed with lemon and some sea salt and placed on a slice of well-toasted grain bread, it’s also delicious,” explains Alpert. Not only is it tasty, but also avocado toast is excellent for athletes. Alpert explains that the fat from the avocado helps to manage your blood sugar levels. So, you won’t have too much of a drop post workout. Plus, it’s filling so you won’t overeat.
5. Apple and handful of nuts
If you’re really not sold on the idea of eating before you hit the gym, something as simple as an apple and/or a handful nuts can give you the energy boost you need. “This quick, on-the-go meal or snack has protein and fiber—the two components of every great meal to keep you full and energized,” Alpert says. Fiber is particularly valuable to athletes because it helps you feel full and aids with digestion.