Could skipping breakfast be holding you back from performing your best? During sleep, the body goes through a long period of time without nutrients, which starts the process of muscle breakdown. This period of time is called a “fast.” To minimize this breakdown, one must replenish nutrients as soon as possible upon waking.
Breaking the fast is where the word “breakfast” comes from. Eating breakfast regularly maximizes strength, regulates blood sugar, stimulates metabolism and supports improved athletic performance. It is nearly impossible to achieve peak performance goals without eating breakfast.
Below are three key points all athletes need to remember when eating breakfast:
- It’s all about timing. Eating breakfast within one hour after waking will increase your blood sugar levels, jumpstart your metabolism and put your body into a muscle-building state.
- Pump up breakfast with lean protein. Protein helps build muscle and aids muscle recovery. It’s important for athletes to have protein with every meal and snack, not just with breakfast. Protein sources include low-fat milk, yogurt, eggs, egg whites, turkey sausage and natural peanut butter.
- Choose energy-boosting carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for the body during performance and recovery. Carbohydrates provide energy for basic body function, nerve transmission and muscular contraction. They help the body use protein and fat for growth, repair and energy. Carbohydrate sources include whole-grain cereal, oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, bagels, low-fat milk, yogurt, fruit and 100 percent fruit juice.
Try this quick-and-easy breakfast smoothie recipe that provides adequate protein and carbohydrates that will break your fast and improve performance.
- 1/2 cup of strawberries
- 6 ounces of plain Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup of uncooked oatmeal
- 1/2 cup of skim milk
- Drizzle of honey (as needed)
Anna Grout MS, RD, CSSD, LD
Anna Grout is the owner of Louisville, Kentucky-based Nutrition Specialist, LLC, which provides nutrition education and counseling for athletes, coaches and parents with evidence-based nutrition information. She received a bachelor’s degree in dietetics and nutrition from Murray State University, where she competed on the women’s NCAA rowing team. She holds a master’s degree in sports nutrition from Florida State University. As past director of performance nutrition for the University of Louisville, she founded the university’s performance nutrition program for its 21 varsity teams. She has also served as coordinator of sports nutrition for the University of Florida Athletic Association.