T Nation

Pre-Workout for Morning Lifting


Hello all,

I've done some searches but cannot find what I'm looking for.

I train first thing in the morning (weights & cardio), about 45 minutes to 1 hour after waking up.

What should I eat? I've read (from T-Nation) about having a serving of Surge plus an extra scoop of Gatorade but damn that's a lot of carbs (~85 grams) and I'm trying to cut and am doing the lower carb thing.

Any thoughts.


I also workout about an hour after waking up. I have been eating an egg-white omelet with lean ham along with whole wheat toast topped with a splenda packet & cinnamon. I also drink a cup of coffee. I have had excellent results energywise.


Even when going low carb, many people agree that it's still okay pre/ post (intense) workout. Continued intensity depends in part on this! In fact, morning carbs, regardless of exercise, are helpful in order to think quickly and have energetic muscles throughout the day.

If one was doing a light walk-jog before breakfast, then he/ she might want to skip the carbs (until after the exercise) and focus on direct fat burning. But risking a high quality weight session or sprint session is not worth it.


Thanks Lonnie! I know all about the importance of post w/o nutrition, but was a little concerned about consuming 135 grams of carbs before my first meal.

T-Nation rules!



I also train first thing in the morning, and basically have the same breakfast as hafedorov91--minus the splenda and the cinnamon (what is it with Americans and cinnamon, anyway!?). I also add a piece of fruit.

However, on leg day I change things up. I've never actually puked in the gym, but I've been close; so to avoid this I have a shake for breakfast, as it digests quicker. In case you're interested, I put the following ingredients into a blender and mix em until the neighbours start banging on the wall (I wake up at 5:30):

100gr of frozen strawberries
100gr of carrots
100gr of some other fruit, usually melon, nectarines or blueberries
10-20gr of rolled oats
10gr flaxseed meal or linseeds
6 ice cubes
30gr orange whey protein
300-400ml cold water

The carrots make it nice and thick, while adding little or no taste, so don't be afraid of them. I believe this shake comes in at around 400 kcals, and it gets me through my leg workouts with plenty of energy, while keeping the gym changing rooms clean :wink: If you're a big guy, you can always add some maltodextrin to increase the simple carb content, or more fruit. I'm about 80kg (176lbs), so that should give you an idea of what you'll need.

BTW, don't use milk, it'll just sit in your gut and slow down digestion. And this shake actually tastes better with water.


I train an hour after waking up and take a scoop of Low-Carb Grow! & 1 scoop of whey. Basically 45g of protein and whatever trace amounts of carbs and fat in the shake. It's worked fine so far. I'll look into eating something similar to what's been posted but it's been fine so far.


Not to hijack the thread, but what about those of us (I might be alone on this) that can't get up an 1hr earlier to eat breakfast? I currently get up and head straight to the gym in the morning w/o taking in anything but HOT-ROX.

I'm aware that this is by no means ideal, as my body is coming out of a fasting state, but I've tried consuming food, especially Surge, immediately before and during my workout but I wind up feeling nauseous. Any tips/advice? Thanks!


If you can't handle Surge, I would say down at least like 8 oz of gatorage (I like Orange myself and usually toss in some Power Drive as well). This at least gets some sugar in ya to replace the depleted glycogen stores your liver took care of while ya slept. Usually I can handle Low-Carb Grow! or Surge on any day except a hard leg day. On those days I just stick with the Gatorade.


Eat like a cow before you sleep.


Just to second what SABmore started here.
I train with weights within 30 minutes of waking, taking in nothing but Spike and water beforehand. Not ideal but better to get it done than risk not doing it later in the day as things get hectic.
In addition to 30min with weights, I then run stairs for 30min before heading off to the salt mines.

I feel better training on an empty stomach typically but would love to hear others' suggestions on quick pre-workout nutrition.
My goals are fat loss and muscle maintenance so a giant heap of Surge before seems scary...lots of carbs.


I am up at 4am, at the gym by 5. I have a shake that is 1c milk, 1 scoop whey, 1 scoop mrp, and 1/2c raw oats. I blend it with a stick mixer. Its chewy. The oats provide energy, the mrp has some fast carbs that help replenish from the night's fast.

That's about a half hour before I get there. The only time I feel nauseous is after 5x10 front squats at 225. ABBH is a killer.

I have that shake in the morning no matter what my diet for the rest of the day.



I've also been a morning trainer because of my work schedule for years now. I've done it with just and ECA stack on an empty stomach and I've done it with either Surge or Gatorade and whey protein 15 mins. beforehand. To be honest there wasn't much of a difference, and I'm not totally sure but I think I was able to get slightly leaner without the carbs before the workout when I was trying to cut up.


I've been in this situation before, years ago before I was as supplement-savvy as I am now (sort of). I went low-tech and did an O.J. and water mix, either about 50/50, or 75% O.J./25% water. I felt it gave me just enough of a boost so I didn't feel like passing out (since that can negatively affect a workout).

If I was in the situation now, I'd probably go with a half-serving of Surge, but if you've tried it and haven't felt 100%, I remember reading somewhere (might have been in one of Shugart's blogs) about protein powder mixed right into coffee. Could be worth a try.


I wake up at 5:00 AM and take a serving of HOT-ROX on my way out the door at 5:30.

I do 30 minutes of cardio and begin my weight training.

2 scoops of Surge in 16 ounces of water does me right. I usually finish this before I finish my resitance training session. I am so dang hungry!

I am on the treadmill by 6:10 AM (I move a little slow that early in the morning).

I am done training by 7:45 AM and I eat some oat bran with Grow! when I get situated at my office. (9:00 AM)

I eat again at 11:00 AM.


Great input from all.
Appreciate the different solutions that everyone has worked out for themselves and shared.


What? 10lbs of grass...?


Read my post further up the thread! It takes 20 mins tops to prepare and drink the shake I describe.

I also had problems getting nauseous back when I'd eat like a mad man in the morning. But now the shake does the trick on leg days; any other training day it's egg-whites omelette (plus one yolk) with ham, some cottage cheese on the side, some wholemeal bread and a piece or two of fruit. If I sleep through my alarm call, I'll just make myself a shake and drink it on the way to the gym.


May I promote my early-morning, preworkout shake once more? :slight_smile:

evmc, I eat the same breakfast whether I'm dieting or not. Doesn't matter if I'm on 1800 or 3000 kcals a day, my breakfast is always about 400 kcals, with mainly simple carbs and protein on workout days; oatmeal, milk, protein powder and fruit on non-workout days.

Especially when I'm cutting calories, I find a good breakfast helps me through my low-carb, diet days.

But hey, I've always been a breakfast person! I know lots of people who can't stomach eating anything in the morning, save a cup of coffee maybe, but I've always woken up hungry.

BTW, this might only be a coincidence, but none of the muscular people I know skip breakfast.


The 'bright side' of your situation is that you're combining both carb windows (breakfast, before-during-after workout).

Eat a good meal upon waking...but definately something easy to digest. A good dose of carbs (mostly simple) and protein is essential.

When I'm in your situation I usually go with something like:

Wake, slam 16oz gatorade, 20g whey, 2 pieces toast with jam, green tea. During workout consume 1/2 srv Surge. Post-wkt 1/2 srv Surge. One hour later consume a P+C meal.

Lot of good info on this thread, experiment a little and see what works best for you. BTW - I second the opinion that a bedtime snack reduces morning hunger.


I have always been curious about preworkout when you get up at 430am to be at the gym by 5am. Basically, from the various posts here, if you can stomach something before hand do so. Try smaller and smaller amounts till you find something that works.

This is my post workout meal which I eat about 7am, protein smoothie (milk, yogurt, protein powder, creatine, frozen berries) and a piece of toast with a little pb on it.

Is this good or should I go a different route and eat substational(eggs, oatmeal, etc)?