Early Bird Nutrition

I set up a swee spot base plan for me and the only time during the day I have enough space for cycling training (with two children and a full time job) is directly after getting up. So I get up at 5am, 15 min. for fueling and go. I do a 30min warm up at 50% ftp (so around 130) and after that I go into the workout. They are scheduled at Mo,We,Thurs,Sa,Su while the weekend workouts will not be that early and the hard one is always on Saturday. Nevertheless I have three workouts during the week.

My question is, what would be a good fueling strategy since I do not want to do sober workouts every morning? Usually I fuel myself about an hour before the workout but this is not possible in this setup. For now I drink 500ml smoothy before and 500ml during the warm up. The smoothy contains 2 Bananas, 500g blueberries, Oranges, Oat Flakes, Shia Seats and some more ingredients. Unfortuantely the toilette was quite occupied by me after the training :grimacing:
How do you fuel or would you fuel for Early Bird Workouts? Do you think this is a good way? Maybe I should start eating carbohydrates before I go to bed?


I would not do a smoothie the morning of, I don’t think your stomach can process it that well in 15 minutes. It’s probably perfect for after the workout.

Ideally you’re topped off on carbs the night before, so the morning of you just need to hydrate and get some sugar in your system.

I typically have two bottles ready in the fridge, one with electrolytes and caffeine and another with sports mix + maltodextrin. I alternate drinking between the two from the moment I get up. I eat something small like a fig bar or banana during my warmup, mainly to make sure I don’t feel hungry.

I’ll have a normal breakfast after my workout.


For a tough / long workout I’ll have a granola bar or two (100cal each) before and have a bottle with one serving of maltodextrin (110cal) as I ride. Otherwise coffee w/o sugar and/or water. It don’t think it is as huge a problem as people make it out to be.

FWIW, I have been getting up a 4:50am since March and aim to be on the bike in 10-15min. I’ve done 2hr SS workouts, 90min VO2max and threshold workouts, last week I did 2x40m tempo (~1750kJ) and no problems. In April/May I did a high volume training experiment and was getting in up to 2400kJ z2 rides in the morning and no energy / fueling problems either. I make sure I’m getting enough carbs the day before in an attempt to make sure I’ve restored muscle glycogen, which obviously I have no way to actually measure, and that is it. I haven’t ‘bonked’ in years and have had a similar schedule on weekends for many years. I don’t know if I’m an outlier, but I don’t implode in every workout with this type of schedule as some would imply I should. Is it optimal? Maybe / maybe not, but I believe other things I do (consistency, etc.) make up for the marginal losses.

I think the main thing is to make sure your post-ride fueling is carb heavy to help with recovery and restore glycogen for the next day. I don’t consider my style of fueling to be ‘fasted’ as I am not carb depleted going into workouts. I have plenty of glycogen and fat on board to fuel the efforts.

I had a similar routine as you over the summer doing sweet spot base HV 1 + 2, alarm set for 5:30am, out the door and on the bike by 6am (early morning outside workouts in the lighter months are the absolute best, you have the whole world to yourself before everyone wakes up) so I could be back, showered and at my desk by 8:30-9ish.

For fuelling, I found I was fine to shove a nana in my face and neck an espresso before heading out. I’d then take 75g an hour worth of carbs with me, always in bottles with a homemade mix of 2:1 glucose/fructose + electrolytes (made ahead the night before and left in the fridge). I’d normally start drinking the bottles or have a glass of OJ as I was getting ready, so it should be hitting the system before the end of the warmup. All this assumes you had a fairly good meal the night before so everything was already well topped off. There’s no way your going to replenish things in 15mins if your already depleted.

I also found it important to have a good breakfast once I got back (normally overnight oats with a couple of pieces of fruit mixed in) otherwise I’d end up hungry all day!

1 Like

Z1/2: Fasted
Anything over: carbs the night before. Do the warm-up fasted, then proceed to take on carbs as I ride. Depending on the intensity, i adjust between more solid or liquid form.
TR gives you an estimate in the cals you’re going to burn, I aim to replace as much as I can, within the absorption limits, and bearing in mind I have a 500 cals shake immediately after my ride.

1 Like

I am also up early (4am) but it usually takes me 45 minutes to wake up. During that time I’ll drink some water and will eat a handful of cranberries (quick energy but also keep the stomach from grumbling) or a banana if I’m feeling hungry. I fuel on the bike using a simple homemade mix of maltodextrin, fructose, and electrolyte (Nuun or PH). I’ve only recently switched to this “home brew” but my previous mix also had caffeine, which I used when I was feeling really sluggish (you can get caffeinated Nuun tabs). I also have gels with caffeine nearby for when I’m really struggling.

I’ve been getting up 4-4:30 for years and ready to run or ride 30 min later. If I am doing a bike that early it’s only for 1-1.5 hrs. Sometimes I take a piece of bread with peanut butter or maybe some granola, often nothing at all asides from water and coffee. Your body adjusts and I found I don’t need anything at all. I’ve done 2.5 to 3 hr runs with nothing. Is this good, no idea but I’m not getting up an earlier to get food into me.

I usually do something like tea with sugar and a slice of toast with jam and/or a banana as soon as I wake up. Then fuel as usual based on the workout while on the bike.

Bread with Jelly and PB…
depending on the wo i do either 2 or 4 slices of bread with Jelly and a bit of PB.
If its a longer wo, i may drink a redbull.
Usually this happens about 30 min before I ride or run…

1 Like

Thanks for all the ways of fueling you guys shared with me. I like the idea of pre-loading the night before and already started this with a big pasta plate (hope this does not end up in gaining weight *g) :slight_smile: I will postpone the Shake to after the workout, this makes sense as well. Looking forward to see how it works. Banana already in the pocket, I am ready for the workout tomorrow. Thanks!
P.S.: “you have the whole world to yourself before everyone wakes up” this is just the best!