Reader Query: Pre-Workout Breakfast

One reader can’t stomach breakfast before working out. Om Gal loves breakfast! Here are some stomach-soothing, workout-fueling tips. Readers, please add your own!


Love the blog! With great apprehension, I realize I must become a morning workout person. In the past this usually meant a couple of dedicated mornings followed by a “sleeping in” day as a reward . . . followed by, well, more sleeping-in days . . . But now that I have a busy preschooler to take care of, the afternoon/evening workouts just don’t fit in the schedule and my body is starting to reflect that! A major stumbling block for a morning workout has always been food. Food has absolutely no interest for me first thing in the morning, but with nothing in my stomach, my workout doesn’t get too far. Any suggestions for a morning snack that won’t repulse and will give me a little energy boost until I can have a better breakfast?


Hi Carolyn:
BRAVO to you for making the adjustment in your schedule to fit in exercise, especially when you would prefer to be doing other things, like sleeping. I can relate. I workout in the early a.m. only out of necessity. Otherwise, I, too, would rather be snoozing while saving my yoga practice, run, or gym session for the evening.

Proper nutrition is imperative for energy during the day and particularly during periods of physical exertion, and the old adage holds true that breakfast is the most important meal. However, you don’t need to make yourself nauseous before a morning workout by eating when you’re not jazzed by the idea of food. A small snack should suffice until you can eat a substantial post-workout meal. One helpful tip might be to pay closer attention to your dinner the night before. If it’s hearty enough, with plenty of carbs and protein, you’ll have some extra fuel to burn in the morning.
Here are a few more non-nauseating tips to try:
  • Bar low energy from your workouts. Energy bars have come a looooong way from their original cardboard-tasting brethren, and now, many brands make smaller, snack-friendly sizes, such as Clif and Luna. Perhaps test-drive a few flavors in the afternoon (this taste test could be fun for your pre-schooler too) so that your stomach is more likely to cooperate in its sensitive, morning state.
  • Shake things up. Shakes and smoothies are an easy way to get necessary nutrients. Like bars, several come in smaller, more chuggable or portable sizes. Muscle Milk, for example, makes a Light version in a juice box size that you might enjoy. If you can manage juice (though for some it’s too acidic), Odwalla and Naked make mini products, perfect for grabbing on-the-go and combining with a piece of whole grain toast and nut butter, banana, or a scoop of granola. YogaEarth is a new line of products mixed with water or juice [disclosure: I'm on the board] that provide potent nutrients and sustained energy. For you, I would recommend Balance before a workout.
  • Switch your milk. Rice or soy milk could make cereal more palatable. During marathon training, I found that my own sensitive stomach fared best on rice milk and Grape-Nuts before a long training run.
  • Redefine breakfast. For some, the unappealing part of breakfast food is the “breakfast.” If so, branch out to foods not traditionally eaten for breakfast. This is daring for a tender tummy (so if simply reading this point makes you cringe then you have your answer), but you might give it a try. For example, I sometimes love miso soup and rice for breakfast.
  • Trick yourself with a treat. Endurance athletes know well the stomach-churning affects of eating right before a workout or while working out, which is why there’s a whole category of foods made to taste like sweet treats while being easy to digest. Sport Beans, Clif Shot Blocks, and Honey Stinger Chews (added bonus: Stingers are organic) pack a good dose of energy without upsetting intestines. Remember: these options do not constitute breakfast, but they could tide you over till your post-fitness feast.

I would venture to guess that the awesome and active readers of also have some suggestions. Many are skilled yogis, elite athletes, and topnotch nutrition experts in their own right.

Friends: tell us your favorite pre-workout or yoga meals?

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  • Crystal

    I’m a big fan of eating before my yoga practice- thought I know traditionally it should be practiced on an empty stomach.. I really like soy yogurt, or oats (sometimes together) and toast and nut butter is good too!

  • Anonymous

    I also need to have something in my system before an intense workout (yoga or running). I try to eat 45 min or more before working out (any closer to your workout and you may have some issues while in headstand or camel, or cramp up!), but if you can eat a full hour in advance, that's best, but may not be possible so early in the AM. Try a banana and some cocount water.Easy on the stomach and fill you up. When you're running late and need some fuel,grab a handful of almonds. They make you feel full and provide good fats until you can get a post workout meal in you!

  • Anonymous

    Coconut water is great and almond milk is good if you are alkaline but make sure it is without agave nectar ( you can make your own) ….banana or toast with peanut or almond butter..a few dates or almonds..

  • Anonymous

    Kashi's TLC peanut peanut butter chewy granola bars are great. Not a lot of ingredients, so easy on the system, and the PB burns for a long time. 140cal, 5g fat, 4g fiber ( = 2 pts for WW followers), 5g sugar (low compared to other bars) and 7g protein. I buy them at Target, cheapest place I've found so far. Plus, they are easy to grab & go, no prep needed.