You have heard the rumors; breakfast is the most important meal of the day! And the rumors weren’t wrong. Especially for an athlete.
For athletes, all meals are important but breakfast might just take the edge a little. Especially if it is the only thing you eat before morning practice!
What you eat for breakfast and when you eat it can be the difference between feeling slow and sluggish vs powerful and fast on the field. As a retired college athlete, I understand that you might feel overwhelmed or too tight on time to eat before morning practice. I remember waking up for those 6 am training sessions!
But don’t worry, I am here to help!
In this article, I share six easy athlete breakfast idea and recommend when to eat them. Continue below to read more!
Should Athletes Eat Breakfast?
Yes! Even for those athletes who train in the evening, breakfast is essential to performing well in your sport. Athletes who eat breakfast before training report the following performance results
- Increased energy levels during training
- Increased concentration in the classroom or at work
- Desirable body composition
- Greater power, speed, and endurance
- Increased lean muscle mass
What to Eat Before a 9:00 am Workout
Foods to Include
Before morning training sessions, you want to focus on foods that are energy-rich and easy to digest. This means carbohydrates! Carbohydrates are the fastest and easiest to digest macronutrients. During training, you don’t want to feel sluggish and slow from undigested food!
Before a 9:00 am session, you can have 1.5-2 hours to digest your breakfast before heading to training. This allows you to incorporate more nutrients and foods into your breakfast.
What Not to Include
Though you have more time to digest your breakfast before a 9:00 am training, you still want to avoid foods high in fiber and be careful with your fat sources. Before morning training, I recommend avoiding fried foods (bacon) and fiber-rich vegetables (cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli).
9:00 AM Athlete Breakfast Examples
These overnight oats are an athlete breakfast favorite! They are extremely nutritious and easy to make. You can easily make them the night before by throwing all of the ingredients into a mason jar and storing them in the fridge. Athletes love topping them with berries, peanut butter, and granola!
Egg Sandwich made with 3 Indgredient bagels [H4]
You will love these bagels!! They are so easy and make the perfect egg sandwich before training. You can easily prepare an egg in the microwave and through it on a 3-ingredient bagel with a slice of your favorite cheese.
Greek Yogurt Parfait
A Greek Yogurt Parfait is one of the most underrated fuel sources before training. You can make one at home or grab one from your local Starbucks. If you make one at home, I recommend topping a vanilla Greek yogurt with berries, granola, and walnuts.
What to Eat Before a 6:00 am Workout
Foods to Include
Just like your 9:00 am training breakfast, your meal should be rich in carbohydrates. Here you want your meal to be more carbohydrate-dense since you are likely eating closer to the start of your training time. The closer you get to your training session, the higher the ratio of your meal should be carbohydrates.
What Not to Include
Since you do not have much time for digestion before a 6:00 am workout, you want to fuel yourself with easily digesting nutrients! Foods that are high in fat and fiber take longer to digest. Consuming these nutrients too close to training will result in bloating, nausea, and stomach cramps during practice.
Try some of the recipes below that are rich in quickly digestible carbohydrates for extra energy during training.
6:00 AM Athlete Breakfast Examples
Cookie Dough Protein Bites
If you have only thirty minutes to digest your breakfast before training, you will love these Cookie Dough Protein bites. I recommend having two to top off energy levels before practice!
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich
This easy breakfast is carbohydrate-rich and contains easily digestible protein and fat to help sustain your energy levels during practice. To build the perfect sandwich before practice, I recommend two pieces of white or sourdough bread, 2 tbsp of peanut butter and 1 tbsp of jelly.
Granola Bar and Banana
Easy and simple nutrition works! Breakfast before morning training doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. A granola bar and a banana could be a great dorm breakfast option for a college athlete.
What If I Can’t Eat Breakfast?
I understand how challenging it can be to eat before morning practice – especially those 6:00 am training sessions! But hopefully, in this post, you have learned how important it is to eat breakfast before practice.
If you struggle with eating before training, I recommend starting off small and working your way up. Just like you train your muscles at practice, you can train your stomach and GI to absorb nutrients.
If you remember from above, carbohydrates are the most easily digested nutrients and I would choose foods that are rich in carbohydrates. Some of my favorite options are applesauce, banana, fruit snacks, and pretzels.
If this still feels like too much, try some liquid energy! Liquid takes less time to digest and can be easier for your body to absorb. Try some apple juice or a sports drink!
Eating breakfast helps athletes increase their energy on the field and meet their performance goals. Athlete breakfasts before training should be rich in carbohydrates and limit fiber and fat depending on the time of your training. The closer you eat to a practice session, the higher the ratio of carbohydrates you need in the meal!
If you are new to eating breakfast, I recommend starting small and working your way up to one of the athlete breakfast examples in the post.
Want more guidance on fueling for performance? Apply to the Performance Fueling Club sports nutrition program here.