It is often said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This seems to be especially true for student-athletes who need to fuel their brains as well as their bodies for academic and athletic success.
Finding an appetizing, healthy choice that works may require some experimentation though.
Some players wake up starving and can't wait to eat breakfast, while others can't even stand the thought of food in the morning. Some make the time to eat at home while others sleep until the very last possible moment and therefore need something portable for their commute to school. Some players are eating in dining halls,dorms or diners. Some players are trying to gain weight in the form of lean, functional muscle while others are working to stay fast and lean.
The circumstances may vary but the premise stays the same: Brains and bodies need fuel to perform.
Eating a healthy breakfast contributes to increased metabolism and energy levels throughout the day, improved mood, attention span and concentration as well as decreased irritability and mid-morning fatigue. The same is not true for a Pop-tart and juice breakfast, or even for a breakfast of pancakes or a bagel and cream cheese. These examples are missing an important part of any healthy breakfast: protein. Protein at breakfast may come from traditional sources such as eggs or egg whites in an omelet or frittata, or Greek yogurt in a parfait or smoothie, or may come from sources such as turkey, chicken or lean steak in a breakfast burrito.
STRATEGIES FOR BREAKFAST
The three most common reasons for skipping breakfast, along with an idea or two to help you adjust are below.
1. "I have no appetite in the morning."
Wake up a few minutes earlier to give your body some time to feel hungry. Consider starting in small portions - a few bite and a few sips the first day - then increasing daily. Another option is to split breakfast and eat half at home and the other half n the road or in class, if allowed.
2. "I'd rather sleep."
Free up time for breakfast by doing some morning chores the night before. Plan, prepare and lay out whatever you can ahead of time. Take it to go in the form of a smoothie, egg white wrap or breakfast burrito.
3. "I don't like breakfast foods."
Eat healthy foods that appeal to you.You've heard of breakfast for dinner. You could also have dinner for breakfast.
SUGGESTIONS FOR BREAKFAST
Eggs/Egg Whites: Scrambled, fried or hard boiled, in an omelet or frittata it doesn't matter. Make it into a wrap as a portable choice. Add different spices such as chili powder to change the flavor, add vegetables to enhance the flavor and add nutrition or top your eggs with items like salsa, hot sauce, pesto in order to keepp them interesting. Pair with fruit and enjoy.
Banana Split: Peel and slice a banana lengthwise. Place it on tin foil in a 400 degree oven until warm and caramelized. While the banana is roasting, make oatmeal using oats, almond milk, protein powder and cinnamon or pumpkin spice.Remove the banana from the oven and top with almond butter or natural peanut butter. Place the oatmeal on top of the banana and nut butter then top with berries and sliced banana.
Protein Pancakes: Make a batter by mixing 12 egg whites, 16 oz of cottage cheese and one cup of oats in a blender. Cook on a hot, lightly oiled surface. You may add fruit to the batter and cook inside the pancakes or use the fruit as a topping. Use a small amount of real maple syrup or try natural applesauce, Greek yogurt or nut butter as toppings instead of syrup.
Whatever you decide, whatever your circumstances or food preferences, however creative you may be, decide to eat a healthy breakfast. It's the best way to fuel your day and your performance.