Breakfast before training?

Turns out: They are a fair bit of people setting their alarm early in the morning to come down and exercise with us - even on the weekends!! But what to eat before the daily grind? 


The CrossFitter´s Breakfast - a subject of discussion

We all know that nutrition is a critical, if not the most critical key to progress in any form of physical training. Especially CrossFit is demanding when it comes to that - how do we refuel after a super hard training? How do we support strength gain and a low body fat at the same time? What do we eat to feel comfortable even when intensity goes through the roof?

We can discuss post workout nutrition, rest day cheats and the big picture - but the breakfast right before a training is probably the meal with the most immediate effect. The question to answer:

How do we charge our enery system without feeling bloated and/or sluggish?


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Factor: Time spam between Breakfast and training

When planing your breakfast, consider first how much time there will be to digest before the WOD.

We can assume that majority of those folks who enter the gym before 7am in the morning (what is actually wrong with them?!) doesn´t eat breakfast at all, simply because you would need to get up in the middle of the night to ensure a sufficient break between eating and exercising and CrossFit is really not the kind of exercise you should do with a full stomach - whoever has tried before knows what I mean.

But how much digestion time is required?

That really depends, first of all on your personal sensation. There are people who really need a solid 3 hours to prevent puking while others don´t need half of the duration. I think one hour should be the minimum you should give your digestive organs.

And then it depends on the typ of breakfast food, of course. There is food that leaves the body quickly such as

  • carbs with a high GI (e.g. banana, white bread),
  • groceries with a high water content (water melon, green vegetables).

And then there is stuff that sits in the stomach forever:

  • everything fatty (e.g. eggs, bacon, butter, peanut butter)
  • whole grain bread
  • dairy products

So consider that and plan accordingly. If for example your morning session will be 2 to 3 hours after waking up, you might want to eat something from category 2 that lasts slightly longer. 

In any case: Don´t overshot a breakfast. 1.000 and more calories already in the first meal might be suitable for a 160 kilo competitive strongman that has to put in 10.000 calories over the day. For us functional fitness hobby people - try something that easily fits on a regular plate.


How about no breakfast at all?

There was a time where you could read everywhere: Skipping the breakfast actually leads to weight gain. The theories behind: Breakfast stimulates the metabolism plus starving in the morning would lead to craves later in the day. So all that people on a diet who tried to save calories by ditching breakfast were proven wrong. Really?

Humanity progresses and the Do´s from yesterday are the Don´ts from nowadays. The newest trend is called IF, Intermittent Fasting. It is said that daily extended periods of "Micro-Fasting" are extremly healthy. They imitade the cavemen´s day structure, they are good for the gut, the blood sugar, the fat metabolism and so on. 

The fasting period in IF is normally around 16 hours long, including the sleep. Skipping the breakfast is the easies way to handle that duration for most people - because, to be honest, no one is really hungry when they get up in the morning. 

And if you are not a "breakfast person", you don´t have to force yourself to eat in the early morning. Also not when you exercise.

The body produces hormons that prevent hunger and weakness after the nightly fasting. And in any case, you have carbohydrate stores in your liver and muscles that will for sure last for a WOD. Even for two. 

Conclusion: A black coffee can be the perfect Pre-Workout nutrition.


How about BCAA´s before morning CrossFit?

Branched chained amino acids (BCAA´s) are essential molekules of proteins that are not processed through the liver but directly stored in the muscles. Many athletes like to take them before exercising fasting as a "muscle protection" - it is said they prevent the body from utilizing muscle protein to generate energy.

I actually don´t think it makes a big difference, especially since a typical CrossFit class is hard and short and the energy sourcing from muscle protein is more a topic for extrem endurance athletes. But if it makes you feel better to have some BCAA´s before or during the class - feel free to do so, they are free of calories and can´t make you full.