Being a personal trainer is no easy job. Demanding schedules and clients can make eating a good breakfast a challenge. Although you may not be a trainer, your busy schedule and desire for results in the gym align you with their needs in the morning.
I reached out to a variety of trainers to ask them about their go-to morning meal. Their answers revealed a unique look at the foods they find worthy of fueling their mornings. Here’s what they had to say along with some easy ways to add nutrition to your breakfast regimen.
The Trainer: Heather Hughes, M.Ed is a an ACSM and ACE certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor based out of Chicago. She is the owner and an instructor at Power Sculpt Fitness, a group fitness studio that offers classes in everything from cycling to TRX.
Her go-to morning meal: Starbucks oatmeal with one packet Truvia sweetener, dried fruit and a Grande iced coffee with two packets of Truvia sweetener.
Why she likes it: Heather’s days are jam-packed. She likes this meal because, “with four kids and a busy schedule at the studio, I need something quick and predictable that I can digest easily. It needs to be something that provides energy that’s immediate (coffee) and sustainable (oatmeal).”
Morning meal breakdown and nutrition boosts: Kudos to Heather for even fitting this meal in every day. Life is busy, but she’s made it a priority. She’s got the right idea with sustainable energy, searching for foods that can provide long-term energy. Eating whole grains such as oatmeal for breakfast is a great choice. To add a nutritional boost, Heather could include milk (dairy or non-dairy) to her oatmeal or coffee or just drink as an additional beverage. The milk adds a source of hydration and provides calcium and other bone-protecting minerals, which can be lacking in some women’s diets. Heather can boost this meal further by making a simple switch that replaces cinnamon for the non-nutritive sweetener in her oatmeal. Skip the sugar substitute, but keep the dried fruit and ask the barista to add a couple of dashes of cinnamon. The cinnamon adds sweetness and has strong, health-protective antioxidant power. Finally, why not add some nuts, like almonds or walnuts? They are loaded with healthy fats that can also help with satiety.
RELATED: 6 Delicious and Healthy Overnight Oatmeal Recipes
The Trainers: Katrina Scott and Karena Dawn, fitness video producers and lifestyle coaches. They are the co-founders of ToneItUp.com and PerfectFitProtein.com based in Hermosa Beach, California.
Their go-to morning meal: Both Katrina and Karena chose their recipe for Perfect Fit Pancakes as their favorite breakfast. They like to top them with blueberries, strawberries and a little pure maple syrup. To drink, they normally have espresso and a big glass of lemon water.
Why they like it: Simplicity and taste reign supreme for Katrina and Karena when it comes to breakfast and that’s why they choose Perfect Fit Pancakes as their go-to morning meal. They’re a winner, they say because “they’re so easy, clean and delicious!”
Morning meal breakdown and nutrition boosts: Cooking any time, let alone in the morning, can seem daunting, but Katrina and Karena’s pancake recipe is easy and fast. It starts by blending banana with a little almond milk. Next, they add their Perfect Fit Protein powder (made primarily from organic sprouted whole grain brown rice protein concentrate) egg whites and cinnamon. A quick stir is all it needs, and then it’s straight to a hot pan. They like to top the pancakes with fresh berries, a great source of vitamins and antioxidants. Then they drizzle on a little pure maple syrup for a traditional touch. This meal doesn’t fall short on protein either; it has plenty from non-meat sources, making it a nice choice for vegetarians.
What could boost this already nutritious meal? Adding yogurt, which is loaded with live and active cultures that can help maintain and promote a healthy gut. The additional calcium and Vitamin D are great for bone health. The pancakes are also a perfect platform for other nutritional “goodies” such as ground flax seed, hemp or chia seeds, and other mashed or diced fruits such as mango. You could even add fresh basil or other herbs, which can help with everything from boosting immunity to aiding digestion.
RELATED: Gain or Lose Weight With Oatmeal Pancakes
The Trainer: Stephen Cabral, ND, CSCS (Board Certified Naturopathic Doctor, Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist) owner of Stephen Cabral Studio and Cabral Wellness Institute based in Boston, Massachusetts.
His go-to morning meal: Stephen begins his day with a smoothie that contains rice/pea protein powder, kale, blueberries, flax seeds and water. If he’s training particularly hard, he adds a bowl of gluten-free oatmeal (oat grouts) before the smoothie.
Why he likes it: Stephen isn’t the only one who enjoys this easily digestible, nutrient-dense meal; so do his clients and patients. He encourages them to skip the heavy, fat and salt-laden foods in the morning, saying “your stomach and metabolism are not primed first thing in the morning to take down a package of bacon or sausages, which will only leave you more tired.” This is a meal that he happily makes at home, a more desirable option since most restaurants don’t use organic foods or pesticide-free produce that he prefers. Another bonus, Stephen says it “only costs about $5 and will leave you satiated for hours.”
Morning meal breakdown and nutrition boosts: Stephen is wise for choosing a smoothie. It’s an easy way to get nutrients in and it’s portable too. He’s included a source of satiating protein along with fiber-rich (and vitamin and mineral rich!) blueberries and kale. The flax seeds are a good source of alpha-linolenic acid, a healthy omega-3 fatty acid, which may ward off inflammation, and the water is perfect for hydrating. I also like that he adds a bowl of oatmeal for days when he’s going to be working out a little longer or harder. He needs that extra load of carbohydrates to help make it through those workouts.
One simple suggestion to boost this meal would be to add some additional fruit or vegetables or an alternative source of protein to the smoothie. Sneak in a banana to add a source of potassium (an important electrolyte you lose when you sweat) and consider adding a nut or seed butter, both of which add protein and other important nutrients that can support hard workouts.
The Trainer: Julie Wiesman, Certified Core Fusion teacher, personal trainer, and JBody Barre creator who works at Exhale Spa in Miami, Florida and Pulse 163 in Aventura, Florida.
Her go-to morning meal: Julie opts for a cup of hot water and a hearty slice of lemon in the morning. She follows that up with a scrambled egg dish she calls the JBody scramble and a slice of Ezekiel toast with almond butter and honey.
Why she likes it: Julie enjoys her cup of hot water and lemon because she feels that it’s “good for the digestive system, and replaces coffee if you enjoy a cup of warmth in the morning.” As for the scramble and toast, she says it keeps her “full for hours and is a fantastic, easy, flavorful way to wake up—with a little kick!” She also likes that it only takes five minutes to prepare.
Morning meal breakdown and nutrition boosts: Creative and uncomplicated, Julie’s recipe is simple: It starts with a dash of extra virgin olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Then she mixes 2 egg whites with 1 whole egg, a little salt and pepper and a pinch of Cajun spice. She adds the egg mixture to the pan and scrambles it, stirring continuously (which she says keeps the eggs moist and fluffy). Once it’s done, she finishes it with quickly ripped cilantro and diced avocado.
On her busy days that are filled with intense cardio workouts, Julie also prepares a slice of Ezekiel toast with almond butter and honey. Julie wisely uses simple and inexpensive ingredients to make a delicious and nutritious meal. The eggs are a great source of protein, and the avocado adds satiating, healthy fat. The toast is a great addition, rounding out the meal with additional carbohydrate for immediate fuel and almond butter for long-term energy. For added nutrition, Julie could choose eggs that contain omega-3 fatty acids. By switching to omega-3 eggs, she’ll get the benefit of this good-for-you fat, which is an essential nutrient for good health. She could also find a way to add a little produce to the meal. Top the toast with freshly sliced strawberries or bananas, or consider throwing in a few pre-chopped veggies to the egg scramble.
RELATED: 5 Non-Boring Ways to Eat Eggs