When to Eat Before Your Morning Walk

How to Fuel Your Morning Walks Before and After

Making a Smoothie
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It can be confusing to know what should you eat before a morning exercise walk, and when should you eat it. When you talk to your friends, everyone seems to have a different opinion. Is it a matter of personal preference or are there guidelines you should follow? These suggestions come from sports nutrition experts to help you get the most out of morning exercise.


Everyone feels a little bit different after eating. Some people can eat a full meal and feel fine while exercising while others might not feel quite right if they eat too much. Use these tips as a guide and experiment with different snack choices before your walk.

Break Your Fast

Your body needs fuel in order to have better stamina and get the most out of exercise, including walking. But too much food awaiting digestion can leave you feeling uncomfortable.

Each person has different needs and tolerances, and it also depends on how far and how fast you'll be walking.

You may not need any fuel for a 15-minute easy stroll with your dog. But you'll need some for a long, brisk exercise walk.

Avoid an Empty Stomach

You should have at least a light snack before morning exercise as your body has been fasting all night. Even if you are a person who normally skips breakfast, a small amount of nutrition can help to fuel your walk and provide you with energy.

Consider 1/2 of a banana, a small piece of whole fruit, a handful of nuts, or a cup of milk or non-dairy alternative. Without any available calories, you are less likely to work out as intensely or for as long as you could. If your goal is to get exercise with a brisk walk, you should have a light snack or breakfast drink.

Try a Small Meal

Experts suggest that you consume a combination of protein and carbs about one to four hours before your workout and then again roughly 60 minutes after your workout. But keep in mind that every exerciser is different. The way your body manages pre-workout food intake can vary based on the intensity of the activity and other factors.

Also, be sure to have water and other fluids so you don't start the day dehydrated. It's always a good idea to drink a big glass of water 60 minutes before exercise. This ensures you are hydrated but you have time to eliminate any excess and avoid a bathroom stop during your workout.

Choose Carb-Based Snacks

If you want to eat close to your workout time, focus on easily-digested carbohydrates for a quick fuel boost about 60-90 minutes before exercise.

In addition to easily digestible carbohydrates, you will also need a small amount of protein to repair and build muscle.

Need ideas? You can try a 1/2 banana with a small amount of nut butter, a small serving of fruit with a handful of nuts, a slice of bread or English muffin with low-fat cheese or smear of nut butter, or low-fat Greek yogurt.

Be sure to include water or other fluids so you have some hydration on board. If you have diabetes, use the guidance provided by your health care team when deciding what you should eat.

You can then enjoy your usual breakfast after your workout, or have a post-workout recovery snack that includes protein and carbs to replenish your muscles.

Avoid Big Meals

Wait three to four hours after a large meal before working out. If you have a large breakfast, it is OK to go for a walk at an easy pace. It's better for digestion than sitting. But your body takes time to digest the fats and proteins, so it's best to wait that time before a moderate-to-vigorous intensity exercise session.

If you ask your muscles to kick in for a good workout, you divert the blood from your stomach and digestion slows down. That can lead to unpleasant sensations such as cramping or side stitches. You may also have poorer performance on a stuffed stomach as your body is working on digestion rather than on fueling your muscles.

A Word From Verywell

It is better to have only a light breakfast before a morning walk and save the bigger meal for afterward.

3 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Timing Your Pre- and Post-Workout Nutrition.

  2. Rodriguez NR, Di marco NM, Langley S. American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Nutrition and athletic performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009;41(3):709-31. doi:10.1249/MSS.0b013e31890eb86

  3. American Heart Association. Food as Fuel Before, During and After Workouts.

Additional Reading

By Wendy Bumgardner
Wendy Bumgardner is a freelance writer covering walking and other health and fitness topics and has competed in more than 1,000 walking events.