breakfast of champions

breakfast - morning workouts They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day and I happen to think it’s also the most delicious. When it comes to a morning workout my breakfast rituals go out the window (cue the Goldilocks’ predicament– not too much, not too little).  Dallas North Park educator and certified nutrition counselor, Dorry, shares her thoughts on breakfasts for champions. 

pre-workout fuelling

If you’re going to be squeezing in a workout before the rest of the world rises, it’s important to incorporate enough time in the morning to fuel your body before and after exercise. Pre-workout fuel should focus on slow-burning complex carbohydrates and be consumed roughly 30-60 minutes before exercise.

eat this:

Bananas are easily digestible carbohydrates and are packed with potassium, which aids in muscle function. Not a fan of the 'nanner? Try an apple, peach or one cup of grapes. Bonus: add a tablespoon of natural almond butter to a banana or apple for more staying power.

raw almonds + dried fruit
Munch on half a cup of nuts and dried fruit. Almonds are full of monounsaturated fats, energy-boosting Omega-3s and Omega-6s, while the natural sugars in the dried fruit provide almost immediate energy. Bonus: add a tablespoon of dark chocolate chips to your trail mix to provide additional energy and antioxidants.

One cup of cooked oatmeal is full of fibre and the carbohydrates release gradually into your bloodstream to keep your energy levels consistent through your workout. Oats also contain energy-providing B vitamins. Bonus: add cinnamon for blood sugar control and anti-inflammatory properties.

post-workout fuelling

You need to refuel your body 30-60 minutes after your morning workout to keep your energy up for the rest of the day. Post-workout fuel should focus on carbohydrates (to replenish energy stores) and protein (to repair muscle tissue).

eat this:

hummus and a whole-wheat pita* or raw veggies
The chickpeas in hummus are a great source of protein and the pita is a perfect carb. Munch on 2-4 tablespoons of hummus with a whole-wheat pita. Bonus: add a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) for added flavor and other health benefits. EVOO supports blood vessels by providing antioxidants like vitamin E and beta-carotene.

two whole eggs and a piece of whole-wheat toast*
Eggs are one of the least expensive and most efficiently digested whole proteins available. Bonus: hard-boiled eggs can be made ahead of time and kept refrigerated with the shell on for easy grab-and-go snacks.

lean protein with a piece of fruit
Four ounces (roughly 4-6 slices or a palm-sized portion) of turkey, chicken or tuna, served with an apple and all natural almond/peanut butter make a great protein and carbohydrate combination. Bonus: wrap it up in a whole-wheat tortilla with your favorite condiments for an easy make-ahead/grab-and-go option.

*gluten-free crackers, bread and wraps are readily available these days for those with sensitivities or intolerance to gluten/wheat. Looking for a brand to try? Udi’s Gluten-Free Food is one of my favourites.

hydration hints

  • drink 17-20 ounces of water, two to three hours before the start of exercise
  • drink 8 ounces of fluid, 20 to 30 minutes prior to exercise or during warm-up
  • drink 7-10 ounces of fluid every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise
  • drink an additional 8 ounces of fluid within 30 minutes after exercising

Since all of our bodies are different, you’ll likely have to experiment and figure out what works best for you. Keep in mind that serving sizes will vary depending on your height, weight and level of activity. Dig a morning sweat? Inspire us with some of your favourite pre and post workout meals.

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Really informative! Greek yogurt with walnuts and a little honey is nice for bfast or a snack, and I do enjoy a tall glass of 1% chocolate milk after workouts/yoga. Here’s a yummy (and really easy) hummus recipe;
Thanks Dorry!

Comment by Anil N. Singh — January 6, 2012 @ 7:14 am

Awesome article. I work out 5:30 am – 6:30 am during the week before work so this is right up my alley!

Comment by Jana Haynes — January 6, 2012 @ 8:54 am

Thanks for this! I really like working out in the morning, and while I typically have food before I workout I think these options might suit me better. I like the idea of oatmeal and cinnamon.

Thanks again!

Comment by Mike — January 6, 2012 @ 9:06 am

I’m with Anil! Low fat chocolate milk is my favorite post workout snack. Before races, a banana with a luna bar or half a PB sammie are my go tos. Plain instant oatmeal with walnuts and a little brown sugar always gets me through a 6am spin class!

Comment by Devon — January 6, 2012 @ 10:19 am

I leave for the gym every morning at 5:15 and always grab a few almonds to eat on the way. I like your idea of adding dried fruit.

Comment by Helen Kamlet — January 7, 2012 @ 12:12 pm

I usually eat 3/4 of an apple, 1 orange, 1 middle ring of melon, 1 bananna and a bit of cottage cheese and yogurt for breaky. I feel like this might be too much but I have been comfortable w my weight/proportion for the past 7-9 years since I have been consuming this (roughly).

Comment by Sevran — January 7, 2012 @ 11:19 pm

I enjoy a breakfast smoothie with one banana, frozen (Europe’a Best brand) mixed berries, ice cubes and water (with a splash of juice) with protein powder and Salba. Blend it in my magic bullet and I have enough fuel for an hour (or as long as my infant daughter allows).

Comment by Sarah-Jane — January 9, 2012 @ 11:53 pm

My favorite post-workout snack is banana and peanut butter on toast. Have just switched to a paleo diet though, so no peanut butter of toast for me anymore!

Comment by Edwina — January 10, 2012 @ 12:12 am

I like the suggestion of drinking water 2 – 3 hours before starting my 2 hour yoga class ~ am trying now! I drink a green smoothie an hour before I work out because it’s light, easily digestible and full of natural minerals and vitamins. Just toss a cup of spinach, slices cucumber, handful mixed berries (i like blueberries, raspberries, blackberries) with a little agave nectar, cup of alkaline water and pinch of pink salt in a blender or juicer and good to go!

Comment by Cynthia — January 10, 2012 @ 3:37 am

ps. I like to use organic frozen berries for this smoothie cuz it makes for a delish cold refreshing drink!

Comment by Cynthia — January 10, 2012 @ 3:39 am

Great post!! I am definitely a morning workout person and my favourite pre-sweat snacks are usually a small banana, or some cottage cheese with blueberries and cinnamon. Post-workout, I almost always enjoy a green smoothie with protein powder, spinach or kale, and fruit. Mornings are just not the same without them!

Comment by Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat — January 10, 2012 @ 5:04 am

Love helpful articles like this, thanks lulu!

Comment by Jess — January 10, 2012 @ 6:39 am

I thought that lulu was Canadian? Why must we try to understand ounces?

Definitely a fan of breakfast, most important!

Comment by Stephanie — January 10, 2012 @ 8:24 am

I too love to workout in the early am. I always drink
A protein shake along with half a grapefruit before
My workout and oatmeal, egg whites, protein powder
And ground flax afterwards. Excellent! I will definitely
Add the cinnamon next time. Thanks

Comment by Barb — January 10, 2012 @ 9:54 am

Hummus has only 2 grams of protein. Not really adequate for post workout muscle rebuilding. Studies show it takes 60-90 minutes for protein to become available to the muscle tissue for rebuilding, so it is best to take in at least 20 grams of protein 1 hour before your workout.

Comment by Kim — January 10, 2012 @ 11:47 am

Great overview of pre-/post workout options! It’s easy to get in the habit of having the same thing over and over, but reading this makes me want to switch it up a little bit and try some new things :)

Comment by Heather @ Dietitian on the Run — January 10, 2012 @ 5:57 pm

Trying to lose weight, and it’s so hard to figure out how to healthily incorporate breakfast into the day. I always thought I had to go to work out hungry, and then re-fuel afterwards so I wouldn’t cancel out my calorie burn, but my allotted calories always keep me starving, thus leading to carb attacks by 10 a.m.. Splitting my breakfast between before and after workouts is such a simple, but brilliant idea. I’ll start bright and squirrely tomorrow morning at 5!

Comment by ennie — January 10, 2012 @ 8:01 pm

Freat fuel ideas. One problem though – if I get up at 6 AM to get a pre-work workout in, it’s pretty tough to eat and even moreso hydrate ahead of time. Advice? Thoughts? Really trying to shift to AM workouts but lacking the energy…

Comment by Kelsey — January 11, 2012 @ 4:38 am

I never eat prior to early workouts and perform great in yoga, running or working out with a trainer. I always eat after.

Comment by Carrie — January 11, 2012 @ 7:02 pm

Adding some protein powder to your oats will not only make the oats have staying power, but the protein also helps to stabilize the blood sugar. I like to pre-measure my oats, protein and a dallop of almond butter at night so I can just add water, heat and go! After adding some blueberries of course!

And if you stay hydrated the day before not being able to chug water that morning helps a lot!

But it’s so important to eat before a morning workout – you don’t want your blood sugar to drop during the workout leaving you feeling tired or dizzy!

Comment by The Get In Shape Girl — January 26, 2012 @ 8:40 am

As ever, so informative and definitely helpful post on blog| breakfast of champions.

Well done!

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Comment by Offshore Company — January 7, 2013 @ 3:14 pm

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