Never Skip This Meal: Why Athletes Need Breakfast

September 1, 2010 | Featured in the September, 2010 Issue

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"The most important meal for me is breakfast. If I don’t eat a good breakfast, it messes me up for the entire day. You have to take the time to do it." —Derek Jeter (Watch an exclusive video interview with Derek Jeter about the keys to his baseball training and success on the diamond.)

You may prefer a few extra minutes of snoozing over getting in some a.m. nourishment. Don’t do it. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and missing it drastically impacts performance. If you’re serious about your athletic goals, take a few minutes each morning to eat a proper breakfast.

“When we wake up, the body is partially dehydrated, liver stores of glycogen (carbohydrate) are essentially depleted, and cortisol, a hormone that breaks down muscle, is elevated,” explains Tim Ziegenfuss, president of the International Society for Sports Nutrition.

When you don’t eat breakfast, your metabolism slows down, limiting your ability to burn calories.This results in less energy, which inhibits your brain’s ability to think and focus and reduces muscular strength and endurance. Essentially, “skipping breakfast drop kicks your coordination, stifles concentration and puts a straitjacket on alertness,” Ziegenfuss says.

You can get proper fuel in just minutes. “The easiest way is to knock back a nutrient-dense meal with sufficient protein and carbohydrates,” Ziegenfuss says. “The goal of breakfast is to rehydrate the body, energize the brain, and feed the muscles their first of three large protein meals.”

A proper breakfast should consist of about 500 calories, half from carbohydrates, 25 percent from protein and 25 percent from fat. This provides energy to power you through the day and during practice or a game. In addition, a breakfast should be rich in vitamins and minerals to further improve your ability to reach peak performance.

Try this quick, delicious and nutritious a.m. fix to jumpstart your performance.

NUTRITION LOWDOWN

Calories 654
Protein 22g
Carbohydrates 132g
Fat 6g

Fat-Free Milk (1C): Provides protein and calcium—the building blocks for your muscles and bones. It has fewer calories and fat than other milks (e.g., 1%, 2%), making it a healthier choice

Wheaties Fuel (1.5C): This whole-grain cereal was developed with athletes in mind. It’s formulated to slowly release energy for hours, and it’s an excellent source of fiber and B vitamins.

V8 V-Fusion (1C): Provides a full serving of vegetables and fruits per eight ounces and rounds out a balanced breakfast with essential nutrients like vitamin C and potassium.

Hard Boiled Egg Whites (2 eggs): Protein and carbs are equally important in the morning. A balance of the two replenishes your body after sleep and allows it to properly use its energy systems throughout the day.
Tip: boil the eggs in advance to save time in the a.m.

Related link: 

Watch a video with sports nutritionist Chris Mohr about quick breakfast foods to eat on the go

Andy Haley
- Andy Haley is the Performance Director at STACK. A certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), he received his bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Miami...
Andy Haley
- Andy Haley is the Performance Director at STACK. A certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), he received his bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Miami...
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