Break the Fast!
“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. Everyone’s heard it at least once, if not 100 times. It is the mantra of moms, grandparents, and teachers everywhere. But it’s true, and research continues to show that eating breakfast is beneficial to your health both in the short and long-term. Here are a few of the reasons breakfast is so important:
Every body needs a certain amount of fuel to perform the most basic functions, such as breathing, circulating blood and oxygen through the body, adjusting hormone levels, and growing or repairing cells. The more you ask of your body (as in, the more exercise you do), the more fuel it needs. During sleep, your body performs all of these functions as it repairs and rejuvenates your body. And depending on when you last ate and when you wake up, you can go anywhere from 8-15 hours without eating. If you skip breakfast and wait until lunch to eat, you could go over 16 hours without food!
Current research, including a review of studies dating back to the 1950’s, shows that eating breakfast is associated with better concentration, memory, and school achievement in children and adolescents compared to skipping breakfast. The brain is fueled primarily by glucose, the simple sugar also used as the body’s most readily available source of energy, found in most complex carbohydrates. Without an adequate supply of glucose, the brain does not function optimally, and skills like memory, alertness, and understanding of new information are negatively affected.
Eating breakfast habitually has been shown to reduce risk of overweight and chronic disease in children, adolescents, and adults. One study found that men who skipped breakfast were 20% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than men who didn’t, and people who ate breakfast had lower rates of heart failure through their lifetimes. In addition, people who eat a nutritious breakfast are more likely to make healthier food choices throughout the day.
As an athlete you need breakfast to help you maintain a balanced energy intake and fuel your brain and body for a day of training and school or work. Breakfast is especially important if you have morning workouts, as exercising after over 8 hours of fasting will result in lower energy levels, decreased performance, and poorer concentration. Basically, you won’t be able to go as hard, move as quickly, or focus as well as you would if you had some fuel in your body.
Eating before a morning workout can be challenging, but if you had a recovery snack and good dinner the night before, your glycogen stores will be topped off, so even a small amount of food will make a difference. Because you often wake up as late as possible and are short on time, the key is finding something that provides enough energy, is portable, and that you tolerate well. Your daily breakfast should contain carbohydrates, protein, fiber, and fat, but an early morning, pre-workout breakfast should be lower in fiber and fat because these two can cause stomach discomfort if eaten right before exercise. Some good options include a banana and a few almonds, apple and deli meat or jerky, trail mix with dried fruit and nuts, a fruit smoothie with protein powder, or a Lara bar. But remember that you can eat anything for breakfast, so don’t feel limited to “breakfast foods”. If you want last night’s leftovers at 7 am, go for it! The best choice for your pre-workout breakfast will depend on how much time you have between eating and training and how well your body tolerates fat and fiber close to exercise.
So to wrap it all up, breakfast is awesome. You should eat it everyday. And if you have to wake up and do something before breakfast, you should have some breakfast first. So today’s challenge is ….
Daily Challenge 5/11:
Try to include the four important nutrients – protein, carbs, fat, fiber – and tell us what you had in the comments.
Recipe of the Week: Omelets
The great thing about omelets is that they are easy, a good source of protein, and leave lots of room for variety. Just like with salads, you can change-up some of the fillings to get a totally different meal. You can add anything to an omelet – broccoli, bacon, chicken, asparagus… most veggie and meat combinations make for delicious omelets. Below are two of my basic go-to omelet recipes. Add some fruit for a complete and awesome breakfast. And as a bonus, these make a great, quick dinner meal too!
¼ cup feta cheese
½ cup baby spinach
1-2 Tb red onion, chopped
¼ cup tomato, chopped
Sauté spinach and onion and set aside. Crack eggs into a bowl and whisk. In a medium pan, heat a little coconut or olive oil over medium-low heat. Pour eggs into pan and add fillings. Cook until egg is done (center is no longer liquid and bottom is lightly browned). Use spatula to close, let sit about 30 seconds, and move to plate.
¼ cup bell pepper (any color or combination), chopped
¼ cup yellow onion, chopped
1 slice Canadian bacon or ham
¼ cup tomato, chopped
¼ cup of any other veggie (broccoli, mushrooms, etc)
Cook Canadian bacon until slightly brown, chop and set aside. Also sauté pepper and onion, set aside. Crack eggs into a bowl and whisk. In a medium pan, heat a little coconut or olive oil over medium-low heat. Pour eggs into pan and add fillings. Cook until egg is done (center is no longer liquid, bottom is lightly browned). Use spatula to close, let sit about 30 seconds, and move to plate. Top with salsa if desired.