Breakfast is for Champion

 Oh Breakfast, Where Art Thou?   I absolutely love breakfast and couldn’t start off my day without it!  We probably heard that million times but I will say it again, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it is a time for your body to fuel up for the day and for your metabolism to kicks into gear and supplies nutrients to the body and brain that you will need to function properly.

French Toast yummm

Ma allora, why so many people out there skip breakfast?  Well I was one of them and excuses for missing breakfast were I don’t have time, I’m not hungry in the morning and I’m on a diet.  Unfortunately, runners who skip breakfast generally train less effectively, are more fatigue, and don’t perform optimally.  Not having a healthy breakfast will also results in having trouble concentrating and work or study less efficiently later in the morning.  So, let’s explore these excuses.

  • I don’t have time: Of course you have time to do what you want to do. If you can make time to run, you can also make time by appropriately fueling your muscles.  If you can’t eat this meal at home, then simply eat it on the run or at work like my husband does.   You don’t have to eat it immediately upon rising…that morning coffee break can be more than just coffee.
  • I’m not hungry in the morning: Runners who lack a morning appetite usually had too much evening snacking and that can easily ruin your morning appetite and also if you overeat can help to weight gain.  Replacing a healthful breakfast with nutritionally poor snacks  can cause dietary deficiencies and if you eat high-fat evening snacks that can inadequately refuel your muscles you can experiment muscle fatigue.  Rearrange your current meal plan so you eat more during the day, less at night, and wake up hungry.
  • I’m on a diet: The most successful diets start with a substantial breakfast and end with a light dinner. Research pointed out that runners who under eat during the day have more body fat than those who eat adequately when they wake up.  A healthy, carb-based breakfast not only fuels your muscles but also prevents you from getting too hungry, and at that point you simply don’t care about what you eat and are likely to eat  junk food. Remember: Breakfast invests in losing weight, not gaining fat.
It’s pretty clear that breakfast  it’s a very important meal.  If you usually miss this energizing meal, try  to eat breakfast for three or four consecutive days and enjoy the benefits: more energy, less hunger, better nutrition. You’ll quickly discover it’s after all the key meal for champions.What’s best to eat?   First of all keep in mind that the size of your pre-workout breakfast is determined by the intensity of your workout. If you’re running slowly for a long period of time, you’ll be able to eat more and digest the food more easily. If you’re doing very intense exercise like speed work it will be harder for you to digest foods, so you’ll may want to try liquid meal options such as a fruit smoothie etc.  Also, breakfast foods that work for one runner may not sit well with another. Most runners need to experiment to find out which foods work best for them.  The American College of Sports Medicine and the American Dietetic Association recommend eating a high-carbohydrate, 400- to 500-calorie meal two or three hours before exercise.  Here are a couple of examples of pre-workout meals that would fall into that caloric range:
  • Two packs of oatmeal with milk and a medium sized banana
  • One bagel with peanut butter or almond butter
  • Two slices of toast and 12 oz of orange juice
  • Whole grain cereal with low-fat milk

Fresh Fruit Salad

That works for runners who have the time before you run, but it’s not practical for early morning runners, like myself.  When I run early in the morning I eat a mini meal or snack of 100 to 300 calories, and that is plenty for a run of up to an hour at a moderate pace.  Here are few quick mini-breakfasts, ranging from about 200 to 400 calories, that deliver plenty of carbohydrates, plus protein and good fats to keep your energy levels higher, longer.

 

  • Whole grain bagel with peanut butter or almond butter, low fat milk.
  • A Meal Replacement Beverage,  such as those made by Snapple or Slim-Fast.
  • Oatmeal with blueberries or fresh fruit
  • Trail Mix that contains nuts, fruit, and some cereal or pretzels. This amount packs more than 250 calories, but offers a good combination of fat, protein, and carbohydrates.
  • Sports Bar such as PowerBars, Cliff Bars, or Balance Bars.  Most energy bars make a decent breakfast. Look for one with at least 200 calories and 6 grams of protein.
  • Pancakes or french toast with syrup, juice, milk.
  • Yogurt with granola and fruit.

Smoothie

If you want to learn more about nutrition and running I suggest few books by Nancy Clark, who is considered on the top sports nutritionists in the field.  Her two books are Nancy Clark’s Food Guide for Marathon Runners Training    What Should I Eat for Breakfast Before Long Runs?and Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook Training    What Should I Eat for Breakfast Before Long Runs?. The Food Guide for Marathoners is a short and concise book that sums up a great deal of good information. The Sports Nutrition Guidebook includes much more information and many great recipes.  She says that this simple meal provides important nutrients that support your running program:Carbohydrates ~ The best source of muscle fuel. Carbohydrates should be the foundation of every sports meal. A breakfast with cereal, banana, low fat milk, and juice is an easy way to help meet that goal.Iron ~ A mineral important for carrying oxygen from the lungs to your working muscles. An iron-rich diet reduces your risk of becoming anemic and experiencing needless fatigue during exercise.  By enjoying orange juice along with iron-enriched cereals, you may absorb more iron. Note: the “all natural” cereals such as granola or Kashi, have no additives, hence no iron added. Combine them with enriched brands.

Calcium ~  Calcium is important for strong bones, as well as for helping muscles contract properly. Low fat milk and yogurt are preferable to whole milk products.

Potassium ~ A nutrient you lose in sweat. Bananas, orange juice, whole grain cereals are potassium-rich.

Fiber ~ To promote regular bowel movements and reduce the risk of unwanted pit stops during exercise. If constipation is a problem, select raisin bran, bran flakes, all-bran, or any type of bran cereal.

Bottom line, a carbohydrate-based breakfast is a critical energy booster that helps runners fuel and/or refuel their muscles. Without this morning meal, you’re likely to run on fumes, perform less effectively,and reduce your intake of nutrients that contribute to top performance.

How do you feel about breakfast?   Try to be conscious of your breakfast routine over the next couple of days and you’ll discover where you stand and your habits. That process of discovery is the start of awareness in  nutrition and health. Enjoy!
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