Better breakfast for peak athletic performance

Good morning! Just sipping on my smoothie after finishing an easy 30 minute run. Basically, breakfast number 2 for me.

Yesterday we discussed the reasons why a balanced breakfast is so important….restock glycogen stores, balance your blood sugar, supply energy to start your day off right. Athletes in training (and this includes everyone from elite athletes to casual gym junkies) need to pay particular attention to the timing of meals as well as to their composition. Digestibility, proper fuelling and recovery are all considerations. Let’s focus on breakfast today.  Remember, when you wake up you’re in a state of glycogen deficiency and dehydration.

Athletic performance will be impacted by your fuel and hydration status.  What you should eat depends on how soon you will be working out. Essentially, the closer you are to the time of exercise, the higher you want the glycemic index of your fuel.  The aim here is to get some easy-to-digest energy into your muscles quickly.  This is the time for low fibre and quick-release sugars.  If you’re very short on time, a glass of juice or a gel and 6-10 ounces of water will do the trick.  This is always preferable than having your engine running on empty.

Do you have an hour or so?  How about a slice of sprouted grain toast and a boiled egg; a banana or apple with almond butter ; 1 cup of oatmeal with walnuts.  These will provide carbs for energy and a little protein to ensure a more gradual release of sugars.   And, of course, 8-12 ounces of water.

What if your workout (or race) is 2 or more hours away?  You’ll have time to digest more and lower glycemic calories.  This is especially important for a workout of longer duration as it will help provide better endurance.  Good choices include my Morning Sunshine Granola (see yesterday’s post) with yogurt or milk of your choice; 2 boiled eggs and some whole grain bread; a cup of fruit and a couple of poached eggs.  Experiment during training so on race day you know exactly what works for you.

When you have more than an hour to go, water is the best mode of hydration.  A sports drink will spike your blood sugar and could leave you light-headed by the time you start.  A cup or so within 15-20 minutes of your workout is fine but water is all you need prior to then.

Post-workout….back to high glycemic.  You want to refuel as quickly as possible, ideally within 20 minutes of finishing the workout.  Your depleted muscles are most receptive to absorbing nutrients in that small window of time immediately after exercise.  A healthy dose of carbs with a little protein in the mix is ideal.  My fuel of choice is always a protein shake.  My second favourite is to take some easy to carry raisins, dates, and nuts with me wherever I go.  Raisins are very high glycemic and alkalinizing, perfect post workout fuel.  Other quick and easy options: a bagel or banana and yogurt; a cup of chocolate milk; a protein bar (my favourites include Vega bars and LivingFuel Coco Chia bars).

Final word: if you’re battling fatigue, fix your food! And whole foods are always the best choice for optimal health, vitality and peak performance.

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