Sallie, I would recommend having something small before your workout in the morning instead of doing them fasted. It’s OK to do an easy ride fasted, but workouts require carbs for performance and to counteract the effects of cortisol. This becomes even more important for women.
Eating carbs before a high intensity workout:
Fuels your training and helps with recovery. You need carbs even for short, high-intensity training. So unless you’re just going for an easy spin, ensuring that you have some carbs in your system will improve high intensity performance.
Preserves muscle and liver glycogen . This tells your brain that you are well fed, and helps increase muscle retention and growth.
Stimulates the release of insulin . When combined with protein, this improves protein synthesis and prevents protein breakdown.
For women in particular:
Without available blood glucose from carbs, it’ll be harder to hit the intensities you want during exercise. What’s more, it could impair your recovery, which can stand in your way of building lean mass and encourage your body to put on fat instead.
The stress hormone cortisol naturally rises when you sleep so it’s higher in the morning. Eating before the early morning workout increases your blood sugar to help bring cortisol back to baseline, but fasting keeps it high. Exercise may be a good stressor, but it further elevates cortisol levels. Over time, chronic high cortisol levels can drive inflammation, predisposing you to anemia and hormonal problems that throw off your menstrual cycle.
So the bottom line is, have something, even if it is small, like bananas with some nut butter, or even banana and maple syrup. I like to mash a bananas and mix it with maple syrup and protein powder.