Morning workouts present a common conundrum: should you eat a pre-workout meal?

If you aren’t a breakfast person and prefer a fasted workout, then maybe you can just chug some water, skip the food, and go right into your warm-up.

But if you find yourself crashing mid-workout on an empty stomach, it’s probably best to fuel up before hitting the gym — and Los Angeles-based celebrity trainer Ash Scarrott, owner of Body by Ash and ambassador for The After Bar, has the ideal breakfast for you.

Don’t worry, it won’t weigh you down. We’re not talking applewood bacon and eggs here (though that does sound damn good). What we love about Scarrott’s meal is that it’s simple and potent, lean and mean.

Oats, fruit, protein, caffeine, creatine. Done. Go train!

Ash Scarrott’s Go-To Pre-Workout Breakfast

In the hour or so leading up to your workout, here’s your meal:

  • ¾ cup oatmeal
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup berries
  • 1 scoop whey protein isolate
  • 1 or 2 shots of espresso
  • 5 grams creatine monohydrate
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Scarrott breaks down his perfect pre-workout meal, item by item:

Man dieting eating a pre-workout meal or post-workout meal prepped meal from a tupperware in the gym

Oats – “Oatmeal is a great slower digesting carbohydrate that will help keep you full and fueled to attack any workout and aid in building lean muscle.”

Banana – “This is a slightly faster digesting carb to give a quick dose of energy to help fuel your intense training routine.”

Berries – “Berries are the perfect superfood to add to your pre-workout breakfast. They benefit the body in so many ways, including helping to reduce inflammation and giving your body a few extra carbohydrates to fuel your workouts.”

Whey Protein Isolate (WPI) – “Whey isolate is a fast-digesting protein source that won’t leave you feeling sluggish and bloated during your training session. I prefer whey protein powder over whole food protein sources pre-workout because it doesn’t make me feel heavy. During a workout, I want to feel light and able to train at a high intensity. If you’re sensitive to dairy and want to opt for a plant-based protein powder, that’s totally fine. Just make sure you’re getting roughly 25 to 30 grams protein. ”

Espresso – “One or two shots of espresso helps give me the energy and mental focus I need to train hard during my morning workouts. I use coffee over other pre-workout supplement because it gives me the energy I need without all the extra stuff I don’t feel is necessary.”

Creatine Monohydrate – “I take creatine every morning with breakfast. It helps aid in muscle recovery and building lean muscle, which is a must for anyone who’s serious about training. Creatine is the most scientifically proven supplement that actually works. Stop thinking about it. Use it.”


Time-Saving Tips: Prep the Oats the Night Before

Rolled oats cereal a healthy food that lower blood sugar levels in a wooden bowl
Vladislav Noseek

Worried you won’t have enough time in the morning to prep all your food? Then have overnight oats instead of hot porridge – and throw your protein powder and fruit in there, too.

The night before your morning workout, mix a scoop of whey protein with 8 ounces or so of unsweetened almond milk in a shaker cup. Put the dry oatmeal in a Tupperware bowl, add the whey/milk mixture, and stir.

Leave the bowl (with lid) in the fridge overnight, and in the morning the oats will be soft. Before eating, top the overnight whey oats with fruit. You can even mix your creatine in there if you want.

Easy Alternative: A Protein Bar

Happy bodybuilder eating a pre-workout protein bar outdoors
Igor Sinkov

Maybe you don’t want to mess with oats and fresh fruit in the morning and want something even more convenient, like a protein bar. No problem. Don’t skip the espresso and creatine, says Scarrott, but sub in The After Bar for the whole foods.

With The After Bar, you’re getting fruit and protein (albeit plant-based, not whey), plus the added benefits of CBD and a host of other micronutrients and antioxidants.

Pre-Workout Caffeine Fix

Man pouring a pot of coffee into his morning coffee mug

Don’t have an espresso machine at home? A cup of drip coffee will suffice. “But skip the milks and sweeteners and opt for black coffee to avoid the empty calories,” says Scarrott.

Or, perhaps there’s a Starbucks on the way to the gym with fast drive-through service. Just a thought.

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