Early Morning Workouts - Fast Metabolizer, Night Owl

Hi Everyone! :slight_smile: I’m curious if there any folks here who identify as a fast-metabolizer (hard to put on weight, drop weight easily), and as more of a night owl. Reason I’m asking is because I’m both, and this obviously presents challenges for planning my training and especially if I would attempt early morning workouts (and so much I read is about people who are opposite). Luckily I work at home and for myself, at the moment, and I’ve had the ability to do my workouts after getting at least one meal in for the day. However, it would be much better for my work and family schedule if I could do early morning workouts, but for someone like me, it seems like an impossible nightmare.

To add to that, my Whoop has shown me clearly that I’m not an efficient sleeper, and I’m a person who reeeeally needs my sleep to function. So to get 7-8 hours of sleep, I have to be in bed for 9+ hours. I’ve been working on that, but remains a challenge (and I do most everything recommended to improve efficiency).

Anyways, curious if anyone is similar in being a fast metabolizer and a night owl, and if so, how did you adapt to early morning workouts?

Thanks a bunch!

I’ve been a night owl forever and did all my workouts in the afternoon. Races are always early in the morning which I’ve hated. But when we had kids it really only worked for me to switch to working out first thing in the morning before they woke up.

It was a HARD transition to working out in the morning. There was also a limit to how early I could wake up and still be able to do a workout.

What I would do is always have a bottle in the fridge and some easy small snacks like a granola bar or an apple, etc (water or gatorade, depending on the length of my workout length).

Whether I ate before and how much I drank before depended on what workout I was doing.

If I had just a short run or bike workout I would just get up, drink 8-12 oz of water, and then go. I could be out the door in 10-15 minutes. 5 minutes in a pinch. I would always start slow for the first 5-10 minutes.

For longer workouts I would wake up and grab my drink and my snack and start on those first thing. Then I would get dressed and hit the bathroom. I could start a workout within 20-30 minutes.

Eventually my body got used to waking up early and started needing to get get to bed earlier. It took a while, but now I feel like I’ve completely switched my body’s cycle and I find it hard to stay up past 10pm. Whereas before that I was often up doing work or other things past midnight most nights of the week. And it used to be hard for me to wake up any time earlier than 5am. After a few years of waking up early to exercise, I started doing triathlons and needed to get up at 4am to swim at the local pool. I you had asked me to do that years before it would never have worked. But after years of getting up between 4:45am and 5am, those extra 45 minutes were no problem.

Really, it’s a matter of trial and error. Your body is different from anyone else’s. Try and see if small snacks will get you through a workout. You might be pleasantly surprised. Or you might find some solutions that work for you. If you do some long workouts fasted it may help your body gain some adaptions. For years I did almost all my morning runs fasted and only ate before my longer runs. Depending on your workouts, you could also eat during your workouts. For long runs or long bike rides I always bring food with me (gels or gummies, or small bars) unless I am intentionally planning to do long fasted endurance.


@emacdoug Thanks so much for the reply! Super helpful. Nice to hear from a fellow night owl on the struggle :stuck_out_tongue: Did you switch to an early start time cold-turkey, or did you start with an earlier time and then gradually make it earlier and earlier until you got where you needed? I assume with kids it might have been cold turkey. I have a stepdaughter, but missed the sleepless years that seem to be the crash course for parents on sleep lol.

The food I’m very curious about because I’m generally energetically horrible on an empty stomach and need to eat more frequently. Though I’ve trained myself this year to cut off my last meal much earlier than before, which has helped with sleep, and is generally a window of 12-14 hours from my last meal to breakfast.

I’m actually training for triathlons this year and think this will forever be my focus, so glad to hear about your experience. And yep, I’m dreading the early start times!

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Definitely was cold turkey. I was tired, but with newborns it made no difference. It will definitely be difficult. My biggest tip is to immediately get up as soon as your alarm goes off. Don’t lie there thinking you’ll just lie there and wake up in a minute or two. That’s a recipe for falling back asleep and missing your workouts. You just have to immediately get out of bed and force your body to wake up.

And then getting to bed earlier is just as important. After a few nights if you don’t get to bed earlier enough, it’s like jet lag. Eventually you are so tired that one night you’ll lie down at 9pm and fall asleep immediately. It may take a few weeks or a couple months, but you will find your body will adjust as long as you keep at it. The more consistent you are the easier it is - both in terms of the time you wake up and the time you go to bed. Like I said, I used to be up to 1 or 2am regularly. Now I can barely stay up past 10pm and I already feel tired at 9pm.

I eat dinner most nights at around 5:30pm and don’t eat or drink anything after 6:30 or 7pm, except may a few sips of water here and there. Definitely helps with sleep.

The easiest things I find to eat before a workout is a gel, or if I want something solid I’ll have a banana, apple, granola bar, or a tortilla / piece of bread. Something simple or somewhat processed is easier for the body to turn around to use as energy quickly and is less likely to come back up while working out. lol. But you can use whatever you like and have on hand that fits your tastes and diet. Worst thing that can happen is you try something and you hate it and don’t try it again.

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@ryanoelke Definitely a fast metabolizer and I also am on a whole food plant based diet so it makes it even harder to get calories. Shakes are helpful along with planning out eating. I usually start with a big breakfast and then sometimes a second breakfast and then a decent sized lunch.

I am not a night owl. I agree with the points raised by Sir @emacdoug. Once you are on a schedule it seems to work. Not drinking later in the day or eating a lot really helps. Consistent bedtime routine is key.