Morning workouts leaving me depleted and exhausted for rest of day

When I ride in the mornings I spend the rest of the day feeling depleted despite a decent breakfast and fuelling on the bike. My typical Saturday morning routine Is get up around 6:30 and eat the following:

50-70 grams of porridge with full fat milk, banana, dates and honey.

I usually get on the bike within 30 - 90 minutes afterwards abs on the ride will drink plenty of fluids (have experimented with just water and mixes) and eat gels, bananas or rice cakes.

I would say I eat a-lot especially compared to others.

Despite this I’m left feeling flat, a bit irritable and generally too tired to do anything else that day without it being an effort.

I don’t think I feel the same after evening workouts but I go to bed shortly afterwards so maybe I’m just not noticing.

Now I had a blood test recently (well man type thing from NHS here in UK) and my blood glucose level was 2.7 which is very low apparently. For the test I WASN’T fasted as I had just eaten the breakfast I described above. I had a retest when I was fasted and it was still low at 4.3.

I am going for another test next week but it has made me question what effect this would have when exercising if my levels are so low on a regular morning. Can eating drop your blood sugar levels in the initial period after eating?

Sorry if this is a dumb question. I’m really trying to understand is what I am experiencing normal and has anyone else experienced this.

For me the “post early ride mood” is entirely a function of sleep volume and calories. You say “you eat a lot”, but how does that compare to what you burn? If you’re coming home from the ride 1k cal in the hole that can still leave you quite grumpy. Same for sleep - if you’re getting up earlier than normal and working hard - make sure to top up on sleep the night before as much as possible.

For me overcaffeinating the rest of the day also helps, hard to be exhausted when you’re bouncing of the walls :slight_smile:


Defo getting enough sleep but yes replenishing the calories burned (1,400kJ on Juneau - 2 hour ride yesterday morning) is something I could keep a closer eye on I think.

Have you thought of using something like MyFitnessPal to track calories? I was surprised by the amount I needed to eat to keep up with the calories used training/racing.
Also, are you eating enough the evening before? I think it’s been mentioned on the podcast that fuelling for morning workouts often comes from the evening before.

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It is good to have medical evidence, and the evidence seems quite clear: you are not eating enough. Early morning workouts are fueled by your dinner the night before. Porridge has lots of slowly releasing carbs, and is an excellent choice for longer outdoor rides. But for 1-hour to 1:30-hour workouts, there isn’t enough time for your body to digest the food and transport the nutrients to where they are needed.

Try to eat according to your workout the next day. One of the worst things you can do to yourself is eat less on a day off (e. g. Fridays if you are on a normal low-volume or mid-volume plan).

Specifically, try to eat lots of carbs the night before, pasta with some sauce works well in my experience and is easy to make.

And I’d start riding pretty soon after getting up. All you need is the glycogen from yesterday’s meal and a cup of coffee. Before and during the workout limit your intake to things that get into your bloodstream immediately (e. g. gels or energy mix in your bottle).

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Are you a morning person in general? Or do you find it really hard to get up, and if you didn’t have a workout to do, you’d still be in bed?

Maybe you’re working against your body clock, and an evening workout would be better?

Comparing rest, fueling, and hydration, I have found hydration to be by far the most important element for me. I have concluded I’m likely in my most dehydrated condition when I get up . I will have just spent the previous 7-9 hours expelling water or having my body utilize utilize water while not taking enough on to replace it. At that point, simply drinking water is not enough. I need to allow my body time to absorb it and do whatever it does with it when I’m under load. For me, that takes at least two hours. I live in a dry climate so aim to take on 80-100 ounces of water per day. The scenario I describe here requires that I go over that to stay effective on the bike. If I do start a workout in a relatively dehydrated condition it is very hard, if not impossible, to complete, but if I can complete it the post-ride penalty is higher than normal. I’m retired so I have time options not available to others, but I never do workouts before 10:00-11:00 am. Back in the day when I had few other choices on workout times, I’d get up at least 120 minutes before I planned to work out just for the purpose of getting re-hydrated.

I’d suggest an on line search for the affects of dehydration on cardiovascular function, its impact on blood viscosity, etc. The penalty to cardiovascular efficiency and oxygen delivery efficiency is significant. particularly if you plan to push your CV system to the outer ranges of its capacity.

I’ve never focused on evening prior as opposed to big breakfast beforehand so excited to try this approach.

Dad? yep I’d deffo be hitting snooze were it not for self discipline :joy:

Thanks for the insight mate I’ll deffo research this further!

I think I definitely find the workouts easier the later in the day I do them. I did 3 sets of 18minx over/unders this afternoon and felt like I could do another set at the end. This was arguably, on paper at least, a harder session than yesterday morning that left me feeling as described in the OP.

Thanks all - absolutely loving TR

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Just wanted to echo the hydration point. I had similar symptoms as described after morning workouts, but when I take in a bottle of skratch /nuun during the workout, the rest of the day is much better energy wise. I tried addressing fueling and everything else, but hydration is what really helped me.

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Too soon. 2.5-3 hours is ideal.

If you can’t wait that long, have your meal post-ride. Instead, have a gel 15 minutes before your ride and fuel with gels or drink during.


Are you sleeping enough on those early days?

Hmm, I don.t think some of the other advice posted have really taken this into account.

You’re eating plenty before and plenty after - you should not be getting Hangry.

Eating last night will replenish what you’ve used that day, but sleep will deplete you, and any excess will be converted to fat while you sleep.

I’m not sure what to advise, but keep getting medical advice. I tend to have latte about an hour after the morning session, and a ‘second breakfast’ at 11 - peanut butter on toast or something, but then I’m usually working out at lunch time or in the evening too…What’s your weekly calendar like?

+1 for MyFitnessPal.

It’s very useful to use it for a couple of weeks every now and again to recalibrate yourself. Unlike “normal” people who probably need to worry that they are stuffing in hundreds of calories a day that they aren’t burning we have a serious problem in the opposite direction.

If you would normally have a 800 calorie breakfast anyway as a normal person, but you’ve just done a 1200 calorie workout then that means you really need to have 2x massive breakfasts. My go to is Alpen muesli. I’ll have 120 grams of that, Greek yoghurt, an apple, a banana, honey, full fat milk, flax seed. This is all after a SIS Rego recovery shake (This is my Must have!). A while later I might have another couple of apples and a banana on the way to work, probably feel hungry again for an early lunch of 2 sandwiches and more fruit. It’s not unknown for me to get up from the dinner table and get a sandwich while i’m putting my plate in the dishwasher. My wife rolled her eyes at me yesterday when I ate a load of leftover pasta as my pre-dinner snack. Really, you do need to eat tons. But all good stuff. It’s often quite hard work. (and i’m fairly skinny)

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Agree with the above. That breakfast doesn’t sound like nearly enough calories.

Or, maybe you need a rest week?

Echoing above but sleep and food is key imo. I’ve started eating more carbs, and feel better for it. I eat a ton of veg too, which is a bit difficult to sustain given how full you can feel, but try loading up, it could well help

If you’re working completely against your body clock, that can also lead to tiredness for the rest of the day. You’re basically giving yourself jet lag.
You should get used to the early morning workouts after a while.

Personally, while I love the feeling of getting my training ticked off before work, I’ve found that I do better overall with an extra hour in bed in the morning and a late night workout.

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Agreed. Drop in blood sugar after dates and honey causing low energy. No longer than 15 mins before training means no time for levels to drop.

Yes, coffee, :100:

Timing is a bit less important with coffee.

Without knowing calories for your meals both pre-ride and during, as well as ride calorie burn it’s hard to assess.

The goal should be whatever you eat pre-ride + during ride = ride calorie burn.
This means if you are doing an 800cal ride at 5am, you should be trying to get about the same back between pre-ride + during ride.

Personally what I try and do for my 5am rides, whether it be vo2max, sweet spot or endurance; night before try and eat something meaningful that will ensure i have glycogen stores topped up for next morning.
When I get up its a double shot espresso immediately at 445am, along with 500mL of water.
Get on the bike at 5am, immediately start pacing my way through a maple syrup/maltodextrin drink mix that has ~350cal and 85g of carbs. I’ll pace a bottle an hour and because it is absorbed quickly I don’t feel flat.

Between being topped up from the night before + 350cal/hr on the bike = ride goes fine and glycogen stores stay where they need to be even during threshold/VO2 efforts.

I then within 30min eat a 600cal overnight oats breakfast which fills in whatever deficit I was carrying off the bike. No more hangry.

If your calories are working out as they should, i would take a look at the quality of food you are ingesting and ensuring you’re not getting a big insulin spike from your meal which is causing you to crash 30-90min right after eating (worst time to try and do an effort btw) as your body draws all its energy into digestion and not doing work. Find something that absorbs quickly and easily, skip the breakfast pre-ride and concentrate on fueling on the bike properly and using the stores from the night before.

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I’m going to take a different angle: maybe you need more salt. Overnight, your kidney’s are busy spilling sodium into your bladder. Then you do a hard workout, sweating out sodium. Then replenish those fluids with low-sodium drinks. It’s a recipe for dehydration. You could go fancy with electrolyte tabs or whatever, but try 1/4 or 1/2 tsp of salt before your workout for a few days and see if you don’t feel any better.

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