Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, yet only one-third of us actually make the time to eat it. While working with athletes on a daily basis, I hear all kinds of excuses: “I’m too tired to chew, I can’t eat in the morning, there’s no food around, if I eat before working out I’ll get sick, I don’t have time.” A morning meal is important for athletes for so many reasons:
- Weight management
- Blood glucose control
- Better blood sugar levels
- Fuel for later activity
- A mental boost
- Better concentration
- Overall improved daily nutrition.
If you’re struggling with ideas on what to make in the morning, try one of these ideas:
- Breakfast in a glass- a smoothie made with soy or cow’s milk, soy or Greek yogurt and fruit. Or fruit blended with protein isolate
- A slice of toast with a slice of cheese
- A hardboiled egg and a granola bar
- A piece of fruit with nut butter
- A small bowl ( ½ -1 cup of cereal) with skim , soy, or hemp milk
- A grab n’ go of roasted soybeans, dry cereal and dried fruit
If traditional breakfast foods don’t excite you, try a lunch or dinner like approach. Dinner from the night before like cold pizza or leftover stir-fry is a great choice. If you don’t like hot cereal, you can substitute rice pilaf with dried fruit and nuts for a similar nutritional benefit.
The key to a good breakfast is a balanced breakfast. Build your own appealing combo using protein (milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs, meat, and beans), fat (nuts, nut butter, avocado, hummus, and oil), carbs (cereal, bread, English muffin, rice, pasta, and waffles), fiber (fruit, vegetables, beans, high fiber cereals/breads) and drink (water, juice, milk, coffee, tea).
Breakfast gives you a chance to pre-fuel for a later workout, or refuel from an earlier one, so don’t shortchange your body. Make this meal a must on your “to do” list every day.
Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, LDN, CSSD is a Sports Dietitian who has worked with numerous professional, collegiate and Olympic teams. For more information on sports nutrition, please see her book, Bonci, Leslie. Sport Nutrition for Coaches, Human Kinetics, 2009.