How many times in your life have you been told that you need to eat breakfast? Pretty much once a week for your entire life, right? That’s because breakfast really is the most important meal of the day, especially as an athlete or an active person.
“You already know breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but maybe you didn’t know it’s one the key ways to maximize your daily energy and increase concentration for the day,” says Rene Ficek, Lead Dietitian Nutritionist at Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating. “Overnight is basically a long fast, and your body is running on fumes when you wake up, therefore it’s important to get fuel in first thing in the morning, ideally between 60 and 90 minutes of waking up. And aim for a balance of complex carbohydrates and protein for fuel.”
A lot of us tend to shy away from natural sugars and carbs early in the day, which isn’t the best idea. “Glucose is necessary for brain functioning,” says Rene, and while “greens with eggs are nice and healthy in the morning but that doesn’t translate to quick energy that we receive from carbohydrates.”
Rene recommends the following foods for staying full, healthy and focused:
Carbohydrates are not bad for you. Oatmeal is full of whole grains for a sustained energy level, making it easier to focus.
Fruit contains fructose, which is easily broken down into glucose for a fast energy surge.
Nuts are a good source of healthy fats and protein to balance blood sugar levels and keep energy levels up throughout the day. Cashews, almonds, and hazelnuts are also high in magnesium, which plays a key role in converting sugar to energy. Nut butters are an easy way to incorporate healthy nuts in the morning.
This grain is rich in complex carbohydrates and protein. It is a highly nutritious grain that keeps you full, energized, and focused well into your next meal.
Below is our *favorite* on-the-go breakfast recipe, which we’ve adapted from Alyssa over at Simply Quinoa. These breakfast cookies are vegan and contain quinoa, oats, fruit and almond butter, making them the perfect healthy morning meal. Whip up a batch on Sunday night and you’ll have breakfast for the entire workweek. Trust us, it’s worth it.
1 flax egg (1 tablespoon flaxseed meal + 3 tablespoons water)
½ cup almond butter
⅛ cup agave
1 medium banana, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon chlorella or spirulina (optional)
½ cup rolled oats
½ cup quinoa flakes
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup dried cherries
¼ cup chopped walnuts
4 medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1 tablespoon chia seeds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment or grease with a light layer of coconut oil
Whisk together the flaxseed meal and water, and set aside.
Beat together almond butter, agave, banana, vanilla and spirulina in a large bowl. Add flax egg and mix to combine.
Pour in oats, quinoa flakes, baking powder, spices and salt to the bowl and stir together.
Fold in cherries, walnuts, dates and chia seeds.
Drop 2 tablespoons of dough onto the baking sheet and repeat until no dough remains.
Bake cookies on center rack for 10 - 12 minutes until edges are golden brown. Remove and let cool on the pan for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
Keep in airtight tupperware container for up to 5 days (You can refrigerate them, too!)