What Makes A Healthy Breakfast for Athletes?

Beautiful Young Woman Making Fruit smoothie

How many times have you heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? Although you may be tired of hearing it, it’s especially true for athletes. Eating breakfast has many benefits for the mental and physical health of an athlete. Every athlete knows that both a strong mind and body are essential on the field. Here are a few practical reasons that breakfast can be beneficial to an athlete:

  • When an athlete sleeps, their metabolism slows down to restore the body. Eating breakfast kickstarts metabolism and fuels the body and brain especially if you have an early morning workout.
  • Food is fuel. After a night of sleep, an athlete’s gas tank is empty, which can cause the morning sluggish and tired feeling. Eating breakfast fills the tank with proper fuel to endure long practices, workouts, and games.
  • An athlete’s brain needs food in order to function properly and think clearly. The brain uses 20% of the glucose/food supply to function normally. Therefore, it needs to be fueled like any other muscle so that it can do its job on the field.

Choosing to start the day with breakfast is important, but the components of that breakfast are even more important. Think about your breakfast this morning. Was it something loaded with sugar and refined carbs, like a muffin or donut? Or possibly you had only protein, like a protein shake or a plate of eggs? A healthy breakfast includes all three macronutrients: protein, healthy fats, and energy-boosting carbohydrates. The typical American diet tends to be lower in protein in the morning and higher in protein at the evening meal. It’s more beneficial for an athlete to spread protein intake throughout the day for maximum absorption into the muscles. Plus, a breakfast with whole grains and protein will keep you fuller longer and provide long lasting energy. My Sports Dietitian has a great ebook for athletes called Breakfast Made Simple: Quick and Easy Breakfast Recipes for Athletes, which provides 20 recipes for simple, healthy, balanced, and delicious breakfasts. It includes recipes for oatmeal, eggs, granola, cookies & bars, smoothies, shakes, breads, waffles, and pancakes. Each recipe is well rounded with protein, healthy fats, and carbs to give any athlete energy.

My favorite is the No-Bake Breakfast Cookies because they are an easy on-the-go breakfast or snack. Check out the recipe below. Get the ebook on a healthy breakfast for athletes recipes.

Makes 6 cookies


  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ¾ cup natural peanut butter
  • 1 cup cornflakes
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds.


Heat honey and peanut butter together in microwave safe dish bowl for 60-90 seconds. Whisk vigorously until peanut butter is melted. In a mixing bowl, add cornflakes, oats, chocolate chips, cranberries, and almonds. Pour peanut-butter maple syrup mixture over ingredients and stir to combine. Shape into 6 palm sized cookies. Place on wax paper and set in refrigerator to cool and firm.


Natalie has a Master of Science in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology from Teachers College, Columbia University, where she is also currently a Dietetic Intern. Natalie believes that healthy food should be tasty food, and she is passionate about living an active lifestyle. Visit Natalie’s blog www.nutritionalanatalie.com for her healthy recipe creations and fitness and nutrition tips. Follow Natalie on Twitter @Nutritionalanat.

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