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If you routinely run out the door without eating breakfast, you’re not only sabotaging the rest of your day, you're sabotaging your season. Athletes who never eat breakfast don't get the jolt they need to wake up their bodies out of fasting mode and kick-start their metabolism. Study after study has shown that skipping breakfast hurts academics, sports performance, workout effectiveness and overall health.
Ready to start eating the type of breakfast that boosts performance on the field? Follow these breakfast guidelines and try these sample meals.
- A good breakfast should contain 500 to 750 calories, roughly half from carbohydrates, 25 percent from protein and 25 percent from fats. Ideal breakfast carbohydrate foods are fruits and vegetables, whole grain cereal such as oatmeal and whole grain breads such as 100-percent whole wheat or rye bread. Great sources of breakfast protein (which also contain fats) are eggs, nuts, seeds, peanut butter, milk, cheese, yogurt and meat.
- Start with one or two glasses of water for adequate hydration following a night's sleep. Squeeze some lemon or lime juice in the water for added flavor.
- Drink one cup of coffee or of black or green tea with your breakfast. Coffee and tea have antioxidants that boost immunity and help prevent disease. Caffeine can also provide energy, enhance metabolism and promote endurance.
- Opt for whole fruit over fruit juice. Whole fruit contains fiber, which enhances digestion, and delivers more antioxidants within their skins and pulp than juices, which often contain added sugar.
Athlete Breakfast Suggestions
- A handful of nuts or seeds with raisins, glass of milk or string cheese and a buttered whole grain bagel (690 calories)
- Apple slices topped with peanut butter, buttered whole grain toast and a glass of milk (455 calories)
- Banana with a cup of plain yogurt mixed with nuts (435 calories)
- A bowl of whole grain cereal and milk, topped with raisins and nuts, and a glass of milk (635 calories)
- Two hard-boiled eggs, buttered whole grain bagel, orange slices and string cheese (610 calories)
- Five-minute egg sandwich. Blend two eggs with a half cup of milk in a bowl. Add some butter or olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Place the bowl in a microwave for five minutes. While the eggs are cooking, put two slices of whole grain bread (e.g., 100-percent whole wheat or rye bread) in a toaster. The toasted bread and eggs should be done at nearly the same time. Use a spoon to remove the eggs from the bowl and slide them between the two slices of toast. Have a banana or other fruit such as grapes with the sandwich, and you'll have a convenient nutritious breakfast! (580 calories)
- High-calorie meal for athletes who want to gain muscle mass: oatmeal, two eggs, a banana, two glasses of whole milk and a handful of almonds (885 calories)
Jim Carpentier is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, a New Jersey-licensed massage therapist and a health/fitness writer. He currently serves as associate health and wellness director at the Greater Morristown YMCA in Cedar Knolls, N.J.