The right breakfast is the linchpin of many-a-workout. Eat too little - or nothing at all - and you'll run out of fuel. Eat too much and you'll feel sluggish and uncomfortable. I've posted before on foods that energize, and have written about the importance of eating the right amount of food with enough time to digest before working up a sweat. Even if your morning workout is a 90-minute yoga class that consists of no impact or tummy-upsetting motion whatsoever, you still need to give enough time for the food that's in your stomach to digest. After we eat, blood is shunted to our stomach - away from our legs and arms - to help digest food. Since blood is a great source of oxygen, and you certainly need that to workout, you'll be lacking if you wolfed down a big sandwich before "go-time."
If you're an early riser, and like to get your workout before 7am, a full breakfast is not practical or desirable. Thanks to glycogen stored in our liver, we've got about 90 minutes of usable energy in our tank to keep us movings for the first 90 minutes or so. After that, it's a good idea to eat something small, like a banana. Of course, if you're someone who needs to carefully manages their insulin levels, eating something small might be necessary.
You exercise mid-to-late morning and have plenty of time to eat breakfast before you get your body moving. Ideally, you should eat breakfast about three hours before your workout. The idea is to eat something that will digest and fuel your workout. At the same time, you want to avoid crappy sugars and refined carbohydrates. Think functional foods that will work with your body and help give it the nutrients it needs.
Here are a few easy ideas or breakfast before you exercise:
1) Cooked Quinoa with Almond Nut Butter and Cinnamon
Quinoa (keen-wah) is an easy alternative to old fashioned oats and cooks the same as rice. Just cook the quinoa, add a tablespoon of almond nut butter and throw in a little cinnamon. If want it a little sweeter, try adding stevia or a little bit of apple sauce.
2) Whole Grain English Muffin w/ Cottage Cheese
This is another easy breakfast that has plenty of carbohydrates as well as protein and a little bit of fat. Using a low fat cottage cheese, this is a staple for me a few hours before a run. I like to add cinnamon to this, too! P.S. Ezekiel muffins are my favorite.
3) Strawberry Banana Nut Smoothie
If you prefer to drink your breakfast, especially on days when the mercury rises, a power-packed smoothie could do the trick. Blend a few strawberries, a banana, water, a little bit of plain yogurt and a handful of raw nuts, like almonds. This smoothie leans toward carbs with a good balance of protein and healthy fats.
Your workout is over and it's time to eat up. Needless to say, you don't need to be as concerned about watching roughage, or foods that take a little longer to digest, but it is important to get a good amount of protein to help build and repair muscle tissue. The ideal window for eating breakfast after a workout is about 45 minutes.
Here are a few easy ideas for breakfast after you exercise:
1) Light and Easy Huevos Rancheros
This is my version of huevos rancheros. Sometimes when I come home from a workout, I'm hungry and I need to eat breakfast within 15 minutes. This meal hits the spot! Layer refried or black beans over a warmed tortilla shell. Add two eggs done how you like them, a little tomato or salsa - and you're done.
2) Homemade Muslei
Soak oats in milk overnight. The next morning add a couple tablespoons of your favorite chopped nuts, diced apple, raisins or dried cranberry and cinnamon.
3) Spinach and Mushroom Omelet
Using two whole eggs, add chopped spinach and mushroom to omelet mixture and cook in a little bit of olive oil or, my favorite, coconut oil. Flavor with sea salt.
Wait, don't leave yet! If you're not joining me on Facebook yet, now's a great time. There's a lot more information on nutrition, diet and exercise. I love talking with my fans and enjoy putting together fitness plans and body-specific meal plans...just for them! If you have any questions or comments, just let me know.