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Keep your first meal of the day easy and healthy with these convenient options.
Eating breakfast is especially important for endurance athletes for a variety of reasons. “Let’s start with the fact that while we are sleeping, our bodies are still using glucose and fluids—that needs to be replaced before we will feel and perform our best,” says Lauren Antonucci, M.S., R.D.N., a board-certified sports dietitian, Ironman athlete and the owner of New York City–based Nutrition Energy. “Overall, breakfast sets up our energy for the day, and I see way too many who miss the ball on including protein in their breakfast, only to complain of low energy or excessive hunger later in the day.”
To determine when and what to eat, there are multiple factors to consider, Antonucci says, including how you fueled the night before, how long or intense your run will be and how well fueled you have been in general. “If you awake feeling energized and well fueled—and not hungry—it’s completely okay to drink 8 ounces of water (or tea or coffee) and head out for your run as long as the run is short and of lower intensity,” she says. If the workout is going to be a little higher intensity (think an interval workout), you should grab some carb-rich, glucose-boosting calories in the form of a piece of toast or a piece of fruit before you head out the door. Prior to a longer run (more than 90 minutes), you should get a hefty dose of carbs (1 gram of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight, or about 50 to 70 grams).
“Whether you ran without eating first or had a small snack pre-morning run, you will want to include carbs, protein, fluid and salt in your post-run breakfast meal,” Antonucci says. “A nutritious breakfast should include some lean protein, complex carbs and ideally good fats. The carbs will ensure adequate energy to fuel your day, protein to repair muscles and help your body with hormone and immune function, and fats will keep you fuller longer…If you are not running until later in the day, then ensure you eat carbs, protein, fluids and possibly fat within one hour of waking up.”
Kite Hill Greek-Style Artisan Almond Milk Yogurt, $1.99
This company specializes in creating all kinds of food products, like cream cheese spreads and spinach ricotta ravioli, using almond milk instead of dairy ingredients. Its newly launched Greek-style yogurts are high in protein (10 to 11 grams of almond protein per serving) and filled with live active cultures. Each cup is less than 200 calories, and the texture is thinner than traditional yogurt yet still satisfyingly creamy. Available in a variety of flavors ranging from vanilla to peach, these yogurts taste best with a sprinkle of granola and some fruit.
Daily Harvest Chia Parfaits, Starting At $6.99 Per Cup
Breakfast doesn’t get any easier than this! You order these breakfast items via a subscription-based plan, and the flash-frozen, superfood-packed breakfasts arrive on your doorstep in already portioned cups. To eat, you simply add almond milk (or your liquid of choice), stir and stick in your fridge to sit overnight. In the morning: voila! A delicious, nutrient-rich chia parfait (or overnight oats) ready for you with no prep and no mess. Soaking the chia seeds overnight actually allows you to enjoy their full health benefits—it releases their protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids for easier digestibility. Our favorite flavor was the chocolate protein + triphala, which is made with almond butter, cacao, pea protein and triphala (a traditional Ayurvedic herbal formulation), and it tastes like chocolate pudding.
Purely Elizabeth Grab + Go Ancient Grain Oatmeal Cups, $2.50
These USDA-certified organic cups make your first meal of the day extremely convenient, especially for those with gluten-free diets. Made with gluten-free oats plus quinoa, amaranth and flax, they’re an easy way to get in a healthy, filling breakfast packed with carbs, protein, fiber and a hefty dose of iron. You can make the oatmeal in three minutes either using boiling water or the microwave. Available in original, cranberry pumpkin seed and apple cinnamon pecan flavors, these oatmeal cups don’t have any sugar added, so we enjoyed them best with a little drizzle of honey or maple syrup.