Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Breakfast for athletes

There are many athletes who choose to train in the morning, before work, school or college; there are also sports that require training twice a day, one of these being in the morning. Some athletes will be able to consume a small amount of food in the morning before this session; others struggle to face anything until the training session is complete. Post training breakfast is an important way to ensure that adequate recovery is achieved and even if there is no morning training, a good breakfast is key to fuelling activities throughout the day. 

In terms of recovery there should be three aims:

Refuel - If training has taken place that morning or the night before, breakfast is vital to the recovery process, and helps to replace the muscle glycogen used during training.

Repair - During training, muscles are damaged.  It is important that you help your body repair these damaged muscles as soon as possible to aid recovery and prevent injury.

Adaptation - Training produces stimuli which cause your body to adapt so that it is able to cope with sessions better.  These adaptions, which include enhanced energy production and increased muscle size and strength, need energy to happen, and breakfast will help to fuel these after a morning training session.

What you can choose:

Cereals - Wholegrain cereals are a good choice as they provide quick and easy carbohydrate to help you refuel. Milk is a good source of protein, will help hydration, and is a good source of important vitamins and minerals like calcium. Many wholegrain and fortified cereal will also provide B vitamins and iron, both of which are important for energy breakdown.

Porridge - Porridge has Slow releasing energy, is high in carbohydrate and will keep you feeling full for longer. Milk will also add protein content and wholegrain oats will act as a good source of B vitamins. By adding a fruit compote, syrup or honey, a quick source of energy will be supplied which will help those who have had a hard morning training session.

Toast - Toast is another option for carbohydrates and toast from wholegrain bread will provide more nutritional value. If you wanted to add protein to toast you could choose a high protein spread such as peanut butter or serve with baked beans and or an egg (see below).

Baked Beans - Baked beans can be high in sugar, which can act as a source of fast carbohydrates which can be helpful following a hard training session.  Beans are a good protein source to go alongside toast.

Egg - Eggs are an excellent source of high quality protein, and contain most of the essential vitamins (except vitamin C). It is particularly rich in B vitamins, which are important for energy release, and Vitamin D, which athletes are normally low on. Eggs also contain antioxidants for healing, growth and fighting infection, which can be important during heavy periods of training for athletes.

Fresh Fruit - Breakfast is a good opportunity to get a healthy fruit portion in, so make the most of the selection that is on offer. Combine with your cereal or add to your porridge to boost the energy content, or simply take away for a mid-morning snack.

Yoghurts -  Yoghurts can be a good option on their own or with the addition of fruit or muesli. 


Not only is it important to refuel following morning training, but it is also important to make sure that all your fluid losses during training are replaced. Even if no training has taken place that morning, there has been a sustained period of time while you have been asleep and not taken any fluid on board. Ensure you are hydrated before you start your day.

Smoothies -  Are a great option for those needing extra energy or for those who may struggle with breakfast in the morning. To read a previous blog on Smoothies please click here http://www.athletelifedevelopment.com/resourceblog.htm

Concentrated Fruit Juice - This is a good option to be included with your breakfast meal and can count towards your portions of fruit and vegetables. Fruit juice will provide a good source of vitamin C which will not only help immune function, but also help the absorption of iron from your breakfast. If the athlete has had a hard morning training session, where sweat rates are high, fruit juice may not be the best option for rehydration, but a good option alongside water.

Squash/Water - Fruit juice and water will help rehydration following a session and should be drunk throughout the day. Squash has better rehydrating properties than water alone due to the solutes contained.

Coffee/Tea - The caffeine may help with alertness, but it’s not the best choice for hydration so try to have squash or fruit juice alongside.  Also, if you depend on coffee to wake you up in the morning, you may need to consider getting more sleep.

Hot Chocolate - Milk is now one of the most promoted recovery drinks and a natural source to. Its combination of protein and carbohydrate help promote recovery from training and it also includes many vital vitamins and minerals which many commercial recovery drinks fail to include. By adding coco powder to milk and warming provides a drink option which promotes recovery.

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