Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. How many times have you heard that? Probably more times than you can remember. But it's true. The type of food you choose for breakfast impacts your exercise performance, training goals and even your energy levels.
However, choosing athlete-friendly breakfast foods isn't always easy. What you may perceive as a good breakfast food can actually be just the opposite. Here are five foods that are better left on the shelf.
RELATED: 8 High Protein Breakfast Ideas
Pouring a big glass of orange juice in the morning is routine for many. But it's not a wise choice for athletes. Fruit juice, though refreshing, is stripped of important antioxidants and fiber during processing, and it more closely resembles sugary water. Stick with whole fruits instead. Whole fruit contains more of the nutrients and fiber your body demands.
Breakfast bars are convenient when you hit the snooze button one too many times, but most of them lack the nutrients to start your day off right. Most breakfast bars provide ample carbs but little protein. Protein is important for muscle recovery and rebuilding. A hearty whole-wheat slice of bread spread with a generous amount of natural peanut butter and a glass of low-fat milk are much better choices.
For the average American, a serving of yogurt in the morning is a healthy choice. Athletes, however, require more calories and nutrients than are found in a small cup of yogurt. Yogurt contains plenty of sugar but not enough calories to power you through your workout. Choose Greek yogurt instead. Greek yogurt is regular yogurt's lean and mean sibling. It contains double the protein of regular yogurt and similar amounts of carbohydrates. Top with granola or fruit for a calorie boost.
Cereal is delicious and cheap. That's probably why it's a staple breakfast food for many. But for athletes, cereal should not be your go-to choice. Most breakfast cereals are nothing but sugar and calories, meaning your energy levels will get a quick boost but plummet shortly thereafter. Go with oatmeal instead. Mix plain oats with water or milk, top with cinnamon and fresh berries and you have a power-packed meal that will keep you going hard for hours.
The sounds and smells of sizzling bacon in the morning are enough to make anyone's mouth water. Although it's tasty, bacon is high in nitrates, which may be linked to cancer. Bacon also lacks the vitamins and minerals athletes need. Crack an egg instead. Eggs are protein-packed and contain 13 essential nutrients. But don't fear the yolk. That's where all the nutrition is. Complement your eggs with toast and a piece of fruit for a complete and balanced meal.
Your nutrition, especially breakfast, is as important as your training. While it may be convenient to quickly grab something for breakfast in the morning, taking the time to prepare and eat a balanced breakfast is best. Remember, what you put in your body is what you get out.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock