Breakfast Blahs No More…
Today’s Friday Feast is written by Dina Griffin, MS, RD, CSSD. Dina is a sports dietitian with Fuel4mance, and endurance athlete herself. Let’s hear what Dina has to say about breakfast…
For busy endurance athletes who have jam-packed training schedules, work a full-time job, and have a family to manage, breakfast is often the meal given the least attention. Yet for many athletes, this can make or break the rest of the day. If you have been lax in making time for breakfast or feel stuck in a breakfast rut, let me provide you some reminders as to why you should give this meal the respect it deserves.
1. For the athlete who does not have insulin resistance or diabetes, the overnight fasting period results in a morning blood sugar level that will be at its lowest point upon waking up. Glycogen levels (the stored form of carbohydrate in the liver and muscles) have also decreased overnight. This means the body needs to get some energy repletion in order to be ready for a busy day ahead. This does not mean we should consume donuts and juice in order to get an immediate sugar high, but it does mean that a balanced meal or light snack should be consumed within a few hours.
2. Athletes who are seeking weight loss do better with their goals when they eat breakfast. This is likely because hunger is curbed so that the likelihood of overeating late morning or by lunchtime is minimized. Interestingly, athletes who make breakfast the bigger meal of the day AND focus on a higher protein intake also tend to have more success at controlling hunger the rest of the day and feeling energetic for strong workouts, even for those who have double training sessions.
3. Breakfast meals that are well-balanced with protein, healthy fat, and fiber from vegetables and fruits are correlated with improved mood, focus and concentration. Who doesn’t want this when they have detailed work tasks, a big home improvement project, or an important meeting with the boss?
4. When you think of preparing breakfast, it does not need to be a gourmet meal in order to get the basic macronutrients (protein, carbohydrate and fat), feel satisfied, and actually have a tasty meal. There are plenty of simple recipes that can be made in batch on a recovery or weekend day (such as frittatas, breakfast burritos, protein pancakes and smoothies). These make ahead meals will make your rushed work and training day much easier when you can simply grab the meal from the freezer, reheat in the microwave, and enjoy within a matter of minutes with little thought and effort.
Far too many athletes are either too pressed for time or are lazy in the morning to allocate time for this important fueling opportunity. Even if you have an early morning workout such as an aerobic bike session or masters swim and you choose not to consume calories beforehand, you will set yourself up for a more successful day if you make sure you get in a high quality meal soon after the workout and before the rest of the day gets the best of you.
Recipe: Gluten-Free Hot Cereal (one serving):
Ditch your plain corn or rice cereal and give quinoa a chance. It provides a much better amino acid profile, a quality source of carbohydrate, and absorbs flavors very well.
Mix 1/4 cup dry quinoa, 1/2 cup milk of choice, 1 small mashed banana, and 1/4 cup egg whites in a small pan and heat on medium for 10-15 minutes until mixture thickens (or cook in microwave for 7-10 minutes on a medium power setting depending on your microwave). Add seasonings such as cinnamon, vanilla extract, sea salt, nutmeg or pumpkin spice to give more flavor.
2. Reduce heat to low and for an extra protein boost, add 1 scoop of a gluten-free protein powder of your choice, mix well, and serve.
3. Other ingredients you can add to boost healthy fats and provide more flavor are pumpkin seeds, coconut flakes, slivered almonds, chia seeds, flaxmeal, or toasted walnuts.