Breakfast of Champions
Updated: Sep 1, 2021
Even wonder why they call breakfast the most important meal of the day?
If so, then you’re in the majority. Although like many others, you have memorized the statement, but were probably never given an explanation as to why it’s so important – especially for an athlete. Hopefully after reading this post, you’ll be so well versed in the benefits of eating breakfast that you’ll never want to even consider skipping this vital meal again.
If you’re like the majority of the American population, then your morning may go something like this… your alarm goes off, you hit snooze 2-3 times, and then you jump up in a slight panic because now you’re going to be late. In between getting yourself ready, throwing food in the dog’s bowl, and mindlessly doom-scrolling for a few minutes, you may just be lucky enough to make yourself a cup of coffee and grab a sad little granola bar on your way out the door. Then, you trudge through your busy morning, diligently crossing off items on your to-do list, and willing with all your might that your 175 calorie bar will get you through until lunch… does this scenario sound familiar to anyone?
If it does, then you’re not alone. Feeling sleepy, lacking an appetite, and not having enough time are the three biggest complaints I hear when I ask my athletes why they skip this essential meal. In fact, it’s why nearly 25% of the population forgoes a traditional breakfast. And while we can all likely relate to those feelings from time to time, you shouldn’t let those inconveniences stop you from fueling what is arguably the most essential part of your day. Allow me to present three reasons why you should consider re-working breakfast into your crazy schedule.
First and foremost, did you know that habitual breakfast eaters are more likely to have a healthy body weight and more favorable body composition? While the exact relationship between a morning meal and weight-related outcomes is not fully understood, several large prospective studies support the association between regularly eating breakfast and having a lower risk of obesity. This may be in part because those who eat breakfast are less likely to get over-hungry and subsequently over-indulge later on. Also, breakfast provides the opportunity to consume beneficial nutrients like protein and fiber, which can help limit blood sugar spikes and keep you feeling full longer.
Another reason I encourage clients to eat a nutrient dense breakfast is because we know that it significantly improves cognition. A 2016 literature review assessed the results of 34 individual studies and found that healthy adults who regularly eat breakfast have improved memory, attention, and motor function. This is likely because the brain relies on glucose (broken down carbohydrates, aka “blood sugar”) as its primary fuel source. When the body goes long periods of time without eating, circulating glucose is low and therefore focus and memory may be impaired. Thankfully, “breaking the fast” with a morning meal can help you avoid those negative consequences.
Lastly, for my female readers out there, evidence exists that shows an association between skipping breakfast and poor cardiometabolic health. While this potential relationship is still being investigated, there is reason to believe that regularly missing your morning meal may lead to outcomes such as elevated blood pressure, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, and higher circulating cortisol. Over time, these metabolic conditions can manifest into more serious and life-threatening chronic illnesses.
As you can see, substantial evidence indicates that eating breakfast leads to both physical and mental advantages, ultimately allowing you to start the day as your best self. While everyone's exact breakfast needs are individualized, when it comes to the morning meal I recommend following my "Rule of 3". The Rule of 3 states that to build a balanced and purposeful meal, three food groups must be on the plate. At breakfast, I recommend grabbing a whole grain carbohydrate, a protein, and fruit OR a
vegetable. When it comes to carbs, a few of my favorite suggestions are oats, whole grain toast, or granola. Once you have selected your carb, pair it with a high protein food such as Greek yogurt, eggs, or cottage cheese. Lastly, add something colorful like a fresh fruit or vegetable to increase the vitamin, mineral, and fiber content of the meal.
Once last tip; Give yourself an advantage and try preparing breakfast the night before. This way, you'll be less likely to run out of time and accidentally skip the meal. Before you go, check out one of my favorite make-ahead recipes; Baked Blueberry Oats. It's so delicious it will have you questioning how you ever got by without your morning fuel.