Breakfast is supposed to be the most important meal of the day, yet 1 in 4 teenagers skip it. For some, hunger may not kick in right away in the morning, making it difficult to eat before school. And it can be hard to find the time to prepare and eat a meal before you have to dash off to school.
But breakfast is critically important for high school athletes. They need adequate caloric intake to meet the demands of their sports and to function well cognitively in class. Breakfast helps restore blood glucose levels after the overnight fast and raises glycogen stores, which fuel exercise. Research shows that eating breakfast improves satiety, preventing overeating later in the day.
To get you going in the morning, here are some quick breakfast ideas:
Peanut Butter Sandwich and Fruit
One of my favorites, even if I have time to prepare something else. The peanut butter has omega 3 heart-healthy fats that will keep you full until lunch time, paired with whole-grain carbohydrates for energy. Replace with almond or sunflower seed butter if you are allergic to peanuts.
This is a great option for athletes who may not be hungry in the morning. It may be easier to drink than to eat something. Smoothies are a great way to meet your caloric needs by adding carbohydrates, protein, fat and perhaps even a serving of fruits or vegetables. Here are my faovrite smoothie recipes, with and without protein powder.
You can make my favorite grab-and-go option in advance. Basically, you take a 1:1 ratio of raw oats and some type of milk or yogurt (or both!), mix it together and let it sit in the fridge overnight so the oats become soft and ready-to-eat (no cooking involved)! That is the basic recipe, but mix-ins are endless: dried fruit, nuts, peanut butter, chocolate chips, protein powder, granola, fresh fruit, to name a few. Check out Kath Eats blog for some awesome flavor combinations.
RELATED: 6 Delicious and Healthy Overnight Oatmeal Recipes
Although I love having eggs for breakfast, cooking them in the morning is often unrealistic! So I make mini-quiches ahead of time—using eggs as a base and whatever mix-ins I have on hand, like veggies, sweet potatoes, beans, ham and cheese. Cooking them in a muffin tin creates individual portions you can eat easily or take with you. Depending on how big they are, sandwich 2-3 “muffins” between two pieces of toast, or pair with fruit and yogurt.
Speaking of eggs, my other favorite make-ahead egg recipe is freezer burritos. Here is my go-to recipe (sans hot sauce but use as you please). This is a great meal for athletes, including protein and carbohydrates in one portable dish.
Using yogurt of your choice, make a parfait the night before, adding your favorite fruit, cereal/granola and nuts. The combination of healthy fats, carbohydrates and protein will keep you satiated. Dairy is great for athletes for bone health as well.
Cereal Trail Mix
Sometimes, eating a bowl of cereal with milk is too time-consuming in the morning, not to mention not very filling due to lack protein. Instead, make “trail mix” with dry cereal, nuts and dried fruit and pair it with a portable milk on the side. This makes it easy to take cereal and milk with you and adds some protein and fruit to the mix. Alternate bites of trail mix with sips of milk for the best flavor.
Frozen Pancakes or Waffles
Next time you make a batch of pancakes or waffles on the weekend, make a few extra ones and freeze them for the week ahead. Wrap them individually and heat in the toaster oven so they don’t get soggy. Pair with hard-boiled eggs (something else you can make ahead of time) for added protein.