It’s no secret that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and that skipping it can lead to some unpleasant side effects. The key to starting your day off right is getting the right mix of carbohydrates and proteins. When it comes to your morning workout, that combination is even more crucial.
By eating a small, well-rounded breakfast, you will get a quick and long-lasting energy boost. Try to eat 1-2 hours before you workout, and avoid eating food which are high in fat, because they take longer for your body to digest, keeping your body from performing at its optimal level.
Here are some great mini meals that are quick and easy to make and will power you up before your morning workout.
6 oz. Greek yogurt 1 cup raspberries ½ cup non-fat milk ½ cup ice cubes
Greek yogurt is rich with probiotics which are important for maintaining healthy gut flora. Yogurt also contains prebiotics, a soluble fiber that helps with vitamin and nutrient absorption, and calcitriol, which can help you lose weight. Raspberries provide a big fiber boost; 1 cup serving of raspberries contains a whopping 8g of fiber and a mere 60 calories! Strawberries, blackberries and blueberries are also high-fiber alternatives.
In a rush? Stop by Jamba Juice for a Carrot Orange Fusion or Kale-ribbean Smoothie. Both are blended with Greek yogurt, along with health-boosting superfoods like kale and chia seeds.
1 cup unsweetened almond milk 1 scoop whey or soy protein powder ½ a banana ¼ cup strawberries
This shake is an easy way to get the protein you need to build up lean muscle mass along with high fiber fruits, such as strawberries, which digest slowly and you keep full and energized. Protein powders can be either whey or soy protein and around 100-200 calories per scoop with at least 10 to 20 grams of protein. Get an immune-boosting bonus from whey protein, which contains the building blocks for glutathione, an antioxidant. The banana provides delicious flavor of course, and it packs potassium to help maintain electrolyte balance.
Apple + ½ oz. pistachios + 1 oz. low-fat string cheese
If you are not much of a breakfast person this is a great way to get something in your stomach that won’t slow you down. Apples are a rich source of polyphenol antioxidants, which are known to promote endurance, muscle strength and fat loss. They also contain fiber, which slows the absorption of sugars into the bloodstream. Pistachios are high in protein and fiber, so they further aid in slowing digestion to provide a long-lasting source of energy.
Another quick and easy breakfast made with low-fat cheese, which contains protein and calcium that help build strong muscles and bones, and a whole wheat pita, a complex carbohydrate that digests slowly to keep you energized throughout your workout. Adding an orange to round out the meal can be help in weight loss because foods high in vitamin C help reduce insulin levels and metabolize fat faster and make burning calories easier.
1/3 cup high-fiber cereal + 6 oz. Greek yogurt + ½ cup berries
Spoon your way to a leaner physique by eating this mix of cereal, yogurt, and blueberries. Researchers at Penn State University found that subjects who ate a low-calorie diet with carbs coming only from whole grains lost significantly more abdominal fat than those following a low-calorie diet with carbs from refined sources, such as white breads and pastas. Greek yogurt is an excellent source of protein. On average it has 18 grams of protein, plus it is low in calories and lactose (making it easy to digest, if you are someone who is sensitive to dairy). Blueberries are high in fiber and antioxidants.
Topping your whole wheat English muffin with egg whites is a great way to add protein to your morning meal. Eggs are packed with protein and helps to ensure an ample supply of the amino acid building blocks the body needs for the repair and building of muscle tissue. The whole wheat muffin is a complex carbohydrate that get your body stoked for a good workout.
Cottage cheese may help stimulate fat loss, especially around your stomach. It’s believed that calcium, the regulator for the hormone calcitriol, inhibits fat-burning and causes the body to produce fat. When calcium levels are adequate, calcitriol and fat production are suppressed while fat-burning is enhanced.
This combination of complex carbohydrates and protein is a winning pre-workout meal. You have a healthy carb for lasting energy plus a quality protein that supports muscle repair and growth. Salmon contains large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which besides being incredibly healthy, seem to affect metabolism. Omega-3 alters levels of leptin, a hormone that directly influences metabolism and determines whether you burn calories or store them as fat. Consuming fish increases the levels of fat-burning enzymes in your body and decreases the levels of fat-storage enzymes. It's been shown to boost your metabolism by as much as 400 calories per day.
Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD, developed the F-Factor Diet, a weight-loss and optimal health program based on fiber-rich nutrition. She works in private practice in Manhattan and wrote two books: The F-Factor Diet: Discover the Secret to Permanent Weight Loss, and The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear the F-Factor Way.