Early Pre Ride Fuel Help

I am typically up at 4:30am to ride for 5-5:30 due to my job and family life. I typically fuel with oatmeal and maple syrup or oats and a banana etc. Sometimes I can tell I’m not fully digested because I just feel sluggish. I am wondering what everyone else is fueling with for early morning rides where they do not have much time to digest? Would really like to stick to whole foods. For easy rides I do go out faster but for MTB rides and hard efforts on the road/gravel bike I need to fuel.

I have the same issue with some morning runs or rides that aren’t just zone 2 cruising. I definitely notice a difference when I eat more at night. Then I do espresso and a light breakfast. Like a piece of toast with peanut butter, maybe a little banana on it. Then I’ll take something to eat early on in the ride (usually a gel or blocks). Can’t eat and run. I just don’t do hard runs in the morning.

I’ve been using these pre-run in the morning. I’ll then eat breakfast afterwards.

This morning I started out fasted and then an hour in ate a banana. It’s fun messing around with nutrition and makes a massive difference. I have really been trying to pile my carbs in hard before during and after my rides as it has really helped me with cravings later in the day.

Those look tasty! I just picked up the feed zone portables and feed zone cool book for some more ideas. The food/recipes in the book looks absolutely incredible.

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I have a similar schedule, on the trainer before 5:15am during the week, usually aiming for 10min after I wake up. If it is under 2 hours I don’t eat anything unless I wake up hungry, then I just have something light (small granola bar, banana - about 100cals.). As long as I’m not glycogen depleted I have enough on board fuel (glycogen and fat) for quite a bit of riding. If I wake up hungry I didn’t eat enough the night before. I make instant coffee and drink that between intervals.

On weekends I have a little more time to get ready and will be riding longer so I do 250-400 cal breakfast (oatmeal, granola bars, toast, banana, etc.) and bring 200-300cal for on the bike snacking. Breakfast is close enough to riding that its digesting while I ride, so I do light, easily digestible foods in quantities I can handle while exercising. I’m not going to plow a 700cal breakfast less than an hour before riding. Been there, done that, don’t like how it feels to have that food sitting in my belly while I ride.

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I’ve been drinking a bottle of tailwind but am looking to get away from this because it feels like a waste of money, even though it works perfect for me. I’m sure there’s a cheaper and just as good whole food option.

I usually go for a bigger dinner, and then something small/quick digesting like a banana or some dates the morning of. If it’s a longer/harder ride i’ll bring stuff with me on the bike.


Give Hammer Nutrition fueling guide a read. You don’t need to eat breakfast at all. I have been doing morning fasted rides for 15 years, start out fasted and then eat breakfast on the bike. Works great.


That is what I did yesterday but it was hard to gauge as my legs were heavy from the previous days workout. It was only a quick 1.5hr ride before work and I just ate a banana on the bike at the hour mark. When I got home it was oats and scrambled eggs.

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@Thumper87, I also workout in the morning and usually only have a handful of craisins or raisins to keep my stomach quiet. For recovery rides an hour or less I try to do them fasted and only drink water. For an endurance ride up to two hours, or any ride under 90 minutes with intensity, I fuel with Gatorade at 50-75% concentration (about 100 cal). For anything longer or more intense I use a custom mix from Infinit Nutrition.

I do keep gels handy in case I really need a shot of energy, though. I’ve experimented with Precision Hydration but mostly use that now for runs in hot / humid weather.

The link below contains a few more details but also info about my custom mix.

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I have the same routine every morning except I stay out a little earlier… FrootLoops, Lucky Charms, Cap crunch or whatever flavor I’m feeling like with a cup of 2% milk.

It’s perfect… Light enough to not feel it 15 minutes into the ride but substantial enough for a two hour ride. Anything more than that and I’m feeling it during my intervals.

You don’t want to eat anything to whole foodie or too heavy. At that time all your body is going to be able to process quick enough are simple carbs.

Like everything else YMMV, so try it out and see how you feel. You can thank me later!

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Never thought about cereal for some reasons but that’s a good idea and I will try it! The past two morning I didn’t 8 grain bread with a tbsp of honey. It was really good and I didn’t feel it in my stomach at all.

If you had a proper dinner the night beforehand, your fuel stores should still be fairly topped up in the morning. That’s why I doubt that you actually need anything in the morning before doing your workouts. At least not for one to two hours sessions.
Perhaps it takes some time to get used to it (especially mentally) but doing those workouts fasted really shouldn’t be much of an issue eventually. The guys talked about that on the podcast on several occasions.

For the longer rides (2+ hrs) I would eat on the bike. Whatever food you normally have. Bananas perhaps?

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I have the same issue, I have played around with taking some honey in with my coffee and a clif bar for something whole. I I don’t use the honey I drink a cup of grape juice. I’ve even done bananas with some dried fruit. I try to use fast absorbing things. I can’t stomach the dried fruit to well but so far the coffee and clif bars have been great. I can’t have dairy if not my options would be larger like yogurt, whole milk in coffee

I eat a Nature’s Bakery fig bar right when I wake up at 4:30 and start drinking yesterday’s reheated coffee immediately. The ride is a million times harder if I haven’t made a bathroom stop before starting, and the quick food and coffee seem to motivate that. Even though the longest workout I squeeze in that early in the morning is 1.5 hours, unless the intensity is low, rpe goes way up without food. I’m looking for ways to up the calories through whole food though, so I want to start experimenting with bananas and shots of maple syrup in particular. Really great to hear others’ experience, as I’m looking to keep the quality of these early morning workouts as high as those that I’ve done two to three hours after a big carb meal.

Same for me on the RPE. I did loads of fasted rides last year to lose weight, even fasted rides after 16 hour fasts. This year the goal has been more performance focused so I have been fueling my rides. There are some more where I go out for an easy fasted spin/recover ride.

I usually wake up and drink some fruit juice and have a clif bar or some other 30-50g of carbs bar. I Then do A 1 hour ride at around 5 am. I try to wake up at around 430 am. I have used maple syrup, honey and agave nectar. I’ll put them in hot coffee with extra milk. Those seem to help for me.

I do 3 x 4hr rides during the week starting between 4.45 - 5.00. I’ll have a coffee upon waking and if the ride includes some hard intervals I’ll eat some supermarket bought oat bars as I get on the bike and eat a couple more in the hour leading up to the intervals. If it’s Z2 I either don’t eat anything(not my favourite thing to do) or I’ll eat around half the amount of oat bars that I’d eat on my hard days. If I eat anything sizeable 3 hours leading up to a ride I feel awful on the bike. Eating once I’ve started seems to help avoid this problem. If I know I have a hard day I just make sure I eat some extra porridge or Weetabix the evening before my ride.