What is the ideal breakfast for an athlete?

The adage, “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper,” is well-known for good reason. Breakfast furnishes the essential energy to rouse your body and set a positive tone for the day. This is particularly crucial for those engaging in physical activities, such as a midday run, even though some may prefer to exercise on an empty stomach. But what constitutes the perfect athlete’s breakfast in terms of its components?

Breakfast options to avoid 

Who hasn’t indulged in a breakfast featuring slices of bread slathered with butter and jam, or bowls of processed cereals? However, if your bread choice is a baguette (white bread) or if the cereals are laden with more than 25% sugar, it’s time to reconsider these options. Substituting white bread with rice cakes or puffed cereal cakes isn’t a wise move either, as these alternatives often boast a higher glycemic index.

Such breakfast choices can lead to a rapid increase in blood sugar, soon followed by a sharp decline. This drop can trigger hypoglycemia in the morning, leading to a significant energy slump. You might find yourself battling mid-morning hunger pangs or experiencing a noticeable dip in energy levels. For those aiming to lose weight through running, this approach is decidedly counterproductive.

Essential nutrients for a balanced breakfast 

For an optimal breakfast, the ideal composition should ensure adequate intake of the following essential nutrients:

  • Proteins: essential for muscle repair and growth.
  • Complex carbohydrates: provide a steady release of energy, keeping you satiated longer.
  • Vitamins: crucial for the body’s overall health and function.
  • Good Fats: particularly omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, known for their heart-health benefits and anti-inflammatory properties.

Recommended foods for a nutritious breakfast

Fresh fruit

Starting your day with a piece of fresh fruit provides essential vitamins and natural sugars. Homemade fruit juice or a handful of dried fruits are also excellent choices. Nuts such as walnuts or almonds are perfect for their good fats, omega-3, and omega-6 content.

Hot drink

Herbal teas, hot lemon water, tea, or coffee can be soothing and hydrating ways to begin the morning.

Whole grain bread

Accompanied by healthy toppings like butter, jam, or honey, whole grain bread or oatmeal offers complex carbohydrates. These are crucial for replenishing glycogen stores, especially beneficial before engaging in morning sports activities.

Proteins

Eggs are an excellent source of both protein and fats. Ham also serves as a good protein source. For those open to it, consuming small oily fish such as salmon or herring in the morning provides both high-quality protein and beneficial fats like omega-3, mirroring the foundation of the Scandinavian breakfast.

Dairy product

For those who are not lactose intolerant, dairy products are a good source of calcium and protein. Yogurt is a common option. For those who prefer or require non-dairy alternatives, plant-based milks such as soy, almond, or coconut milk can be excellent substitutes. However, it’s important to choose versions with no more than 5g of sugar per 100g to avoid excessive sugar intake, a common issue particularly with flavored milks like those of the chocolate variety.

Breakfast recipes endorsed by RunMotion 

Oat pancakes

A fantastic way to kick off your day. Oats provide the carbohydrates, while eggs and fromage blanc add protein. Here’s how to make the pancakes, with a variety of topping choices to suit different tastes, including bananas, kiwi, peanut butter, honey, or, for those who indulge, chocolate spread (use sparingly).

Ingredients:

  • 50g oat bran
  • 1 whole egg + 1 egg white
  • 50g fromage blanc 

Instructions:

  • Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.
  • Mix well until a batter forms.
  • Pour the batter into a preheated pan over low heat.
  • Cook until each side is golden brown, flipping once.

Topping suggestions: Bananas, kiwi, peanut butter, honey, or chocolate spread (moderately).

Oatmeal bowl cake

Ingredients:

  • 40g oat flakes
  • 1 banana
  • 1 square of chocolate
  • 3 tablespoons of milk (dairy or plant-based)
  • 1 egg

Instructions:

  • In a microwave-safe bowl, mash the banana.
  • Add the oat flakes, chocolate square, milk, and egg to the bowl.
  • Stir until all ingredients are well combined.
  • Microwave on high for 3 minutes, or until the cake is cooked through.

These recipes are designed to provide a balanced blend of nutrients essential for energy and endurance, making them perfect for athletes or anyone looking for a healthy start to their day.

Avatar photo
Mailis Durif-VarambonMailis grew up in the mountains, where she went hiking and biking every weekend. She loves outdoor activities where she can relax at the end of the day. At RunMotion Coach, she is responsible for community management.