Breakfast for Athletes: What to eat before morning training sessions and races.By Bree Soileau, Nutritionist and Coach
Breakfast literally means to break the fasting period of the prior night. This is done by eating a meal or drinking fluids upon waking up.
For athletes, it’s important to consume something before a morning training session or race. What exactly? That depends on what your body can stomach and how long your training session or race is.
For shorter training sessions and races lasting less than 60 minutes, stick with carboydrates. Preferred carbohydrate sources: fruit, grains, juice.
For longer training sessions and races lasting 1 – 2 hours, consume carbohydrates and protein. Preferred carbohydrate sources: fruit, grains, juice. Preferred protein sources: non-fat dairy (yogurt, milk), eggs, peanut or almond butter. Try our delicious green smoothie recipe.
For training sessions and races lasting 2 hours or more, carbohydrates, protein and fat. Preferred carbohydrate sources: fruit, grains, juice. Preferred protein and fat sources: low fat dairy (yogurt, milk), eggs, peanut or almond butter, lean meats (turkey, ham). Again, green smoothies a delicious option.
When’s the best time to eat breakfast? The sooner the better. It’s preferred athletes eat breakfast 1 to 2 hours before exercise. We suggest you plan your meal based on your event start time. Why? Carbohyrates leave the stomach within 30 minutes and becomes instant energy. Protein and fat take a couple of hours. If your event is in less than an hour, opt for carbohyrates. If you have more time, you can also eat protein and fat. Nothing like having a full meal sitting heavy on your stomach causing cramping and discomfort during exercise. Keep in mind you can always refuel during a training session or event if you didn’t consume enough for breakfast.
Pre-Race Breakfast Example: Jeff and I ate a large breakfast before our Half Ironman in 2011. We went to Denny’s at 5AM and ate pancakes, eggs and bacon. We also enjoyed some coffee and lots of water. Our event (a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 26.2 mile run) was going to take us at least 5 and a half hours to complete. We needed to consume a large amount of calories pre-event. Start time was 8:00AM, so there was plenty of time for the food to digest. We had a great race and part of it was the breakfast.
If you have any questions about what types of food to eat before exercise, let us know. Want to share your favorite pre-exercise meal? Share with us! Post below in the comment section. Your favorite meal may become someone elses too!(Disclaimer: Denny’s did not endorse this post. The race was out of town and this was the closest restaurant. We enjoyed every bite!)