6am training, what to eat

Twice a week, when I train before work, I get up at 5.15am, have a coffee, then put the bike on the Kickr, get changed etc. My sessions starts at 6am and finishes at 7am in the dot.

I am struggling with the fuel. I have just started SSB module I medium volume and I often have to reach for a gel.

What should I eat, and when? I think it’s bad for my body to get used to a gel so early in my training plan, I was planning to use the gels in later sessions perhaps during the harder Sustained Build sessions.

When I wake up at 5.15am I cannot eat, all I can have is a strong coffee while I check the news, cycling forums and wake up…the earliest I could eat is 6am on the bike.

Should I eat more the evening before? I already have a normal dinner, but perhaps should I have a proper meal like pasta or rice and avoid the gels at least until I get to the Sustained Build?

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How do you do in the sessions? Complete as detailed, fail etc?

I train at 0630 for up to 2h and can do these sessions on nothing but coffee, but I’m very fat adapted (up to L4/5 - based on recent lab tests). How do you generally fuel rides? I.e., constantly hammer gels etc?

If you need something, I’d have a banana first thing upon waking.

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Eating well the day before making sure your glycogen stores are topped before you go to bed should help.

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I have two weekabix shortly before bed the night before and then a banana during the warm up. I get up at 4.55 on the bike at 5 and currently doing 1 hour workouts on SSB. No issues here with feeling tired.

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I recently shifted my workouts to early morning (from the evening) which means up at 5:30 to 6:00 and hop on the trainer 15 min later (want to maximize my sleep).

For intense intervals, I have been eating a fig bar with some dates and I add 1 scoop of Gu drink mix into my bottle. Plus cold brew coffee. For these training rides, I am aiming for real food as opposed to engineered gels/chews. I save the gels/chews to 90min+ outdoor rides. For endurance workouts; I either do these fasted or I have tried some almonds mid ride (for endurance over 60min). Not sure if this is the best fueling strategy and I am interested to hear of other rider’s approaches.

I do fasted rides up to 90 minutes and have just water during the session however during a 90 minute session I do get hungry during the last 15 minutes but I ensure I hit my calorie intake each day and to add a wider context I am targeting a 1lb a week weight loss.

Whilst calorie counting is a good discipline to follow I’d suggest of equal importance is quality of calories, drop processed food, increase your vegetable intake and discover the joy of making your own food.

When the workload ramps up I’ll have a banana or a hand full of dried fruit and nuts.

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Thanks for the replies.

Yes I complete all workouts, no breaks or interruptions.

I tend to use gels only outdoor in the last 60 mins of a 4 hour chain gang. I eat solids in the first 2 to 3 hours outdoor, and porridge at home.

I will try the following: have a normal dinner with some carbs the night before, and then 2 weetabix just before going to bed to top up my glycogen store (because I like them and they are quick to prepare and eat), and a banana an nuts as soon as I walk up I will also experiment with porridge when I have more time (in the evening, before going to bed).

I will report back on Tue (next planned session).

Somehow I also believe that it is better to eat real food when we can.

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Save faffing on the morning by preparing your porridge the night before so the oats soak up the water/milk.

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I am on a similar schedule. Adding sweet potatoes or other complex carbs the night before make a big difference. Also make sure you are as well hydrated as possible (without interrupting sleep) I generally fast for hour rides indoors, but for particularly tough threshold or higher, I will eat a stroopwaffel with my coffee, or toast with jam. I eat oatmeal everyday, but either after a ride, or with 2+hours before one. It is slow to process. You will want something with a very high glycemic index that close to jumping on the bike.

Neither here/there, but I find I am MUCH more impacted by the quality of sleep the night before, the temperature in the room, and overall stress level, if I follow the eating plan above.

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I say if you need a gel to get through an early morning session then eat a gel.

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I eat a banana before I’m going to pound a hard group ride along with a endurance sports drink.

For all trainerroad sessions that I do early in the morning I will usually have water and a endurance sports drink if it is going to be hard and over 1hr

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I have lost 30kg in last 7 months, 4th week into my first ever structured training SSHV. Do most of my training in the morning with just a banana when I wake up, anything over 1.25hrs will have a gel. When cooling down will have a recovery drink to get ready for the next session. Train everyday with TSS 650-700 every week. Enjoying TR

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Epic work mate! very well done.

Losing 1kg a week or 4kg a month is absurd… but in a good way.

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FTP Also went up from 240 to 270,
Thank you

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Why can’t you eat when you wake up? Is it a physical or mental thing?

Most Saturdays I am up at 4:40 to get ready for my club rides which normally start between 5:30 and 6:00. The first thing I do is go and eat something, usually some overnight oats (with some fruit and stuff in there), washed down with an espresso.

It’s not so much that I want to eat at that time, rather I know that if I don’t, then later on in the ride I will suffer. That breakfast, supplemented with SIS Go electrolyte drink, sets me up for 3 hours of pretty intense riding.

Personally, I don’t think eating more the night before helps me at all.

Like the other guys mention, a banana goes down pretty easily, you could even blend it with some milk to make it go down even easier. Otherwise a couple of slices of toast with peanut butter will help get some gas in the tank.

You can also look at fluids. Sis go gives you a decent amount of carbs in each bottle. I use this for all my longer indoor sessions without the need for any solid food.

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Love to get a coffee in before a session too. A nice espresso is my go too.

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Dark chocolate covered espresso beans as soon as you roll out of bed then maybe a banana during the warm-up

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That wouldn’t work for me. Those dark chocolate covered espresso beans would have been down my gullet the night before :grin:

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I feel you. But I think most of it is more psychological, even if you ate something, it probably wouldn’t make it to your blood stream in time.

I feel the (mostly psychological) need to have something sugary during long, hard efforts such as the classic 2x20 @100% FTP (Gray) session. Strangely enough, I can manage short VO2max intervals, though, without having to eat anything.

So I think you should mix hardening up for the sessions where you have an easier time with giving to your cravings if that helps you finish this particular workout successfully.

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I agree with @Fatchance. An hour workout is not enough to deplete topped up glycogen stores. So if you find you’re having trouble due to fueling during these workouts, concentrate of better nutrition the evening before.

Also, don’t give short shrift to hydration. Many of us wake up needing a little hydration. Try taking down some liquid nutrition before your workout. Shouldn’t be too hard to slam a few gulps of something. Try just water…or maybe some juice if just the water doesn’t help.