If you’re in a rush in the morning but still want to eat breakfast before heading out, there are some great, easy options. However, the main nutrition goal for your first meal of the day should be to top off your glycogen stores, not mess up your system. With that in mind, these are a few foods (and drinks) you’ll want to skip before you roll out.
“I’m a big supporter of caffeine,” says Guzman. “There’s so much data to prove it’s performance-enhancing.” “But the thing is, some people get anxious, and some people get the runs after drinking it.”
Between the coffee’s volume and caffeine content, you’re setting yourself up for a bathroom emergency if you don’t leave time between your morning French press and your ride. If you feel like coffee is a must, though, Guzman suggests opting for an espresso instead: Its lower volume means it’s less “pee-inducing,” and you’ll still get a decent caffeine kick. Save the hydration for the bike.
Eggs are a great nutritional choice in general, but if you’re pressed for time, give the fatty and protein-packed meals (i.e., anything made up of bacon and eggs) a pass.
Bacon is the worst offender, says holistic nutritionist Anne Guzman. Since it’s almost pure fat, it’s hard to digest, and will sit in your stomach well after your meal is over. (It takes about two hours before you can use the fat as fuel, Guzman warns.) This will force your cycling muscles to compete with digestion as you pedal, which is not a good way to start your morning ride.
Definitely pass on anything high in fiber if you’re rolling out of bed and onto the road.
“You’re just going to hold everything up and expand whatever you put in there,” says Guzman, adding that steel-cut oats are one of the biggest offenders here. They’re great if you have time to eat slowly and hit a restroom before you ride, but if you don’t want to pull over to jump in the bushes after breakfast, stick to less fibrous options (like one-minute quick oatmeal) for faster digestion and less gastric distress.
You only want a small meal—think 100 to 200 calories—right before you ride, and those calories should be easily digestible carbohydrates. Guzman says any large meal can leave you feeling backed up and sluggish, as your digestion takes energy away from your legs. That might mean skipping the perfect breakfast bowl and opting for a piece of fruit. “Let go of ‘perfect eating’ pre-ride if riding is what’s important to you,” says Guzman. You can always save your perfect breakfast for a post-ride celebration.