What Should Runners Eat For Breakfast? From Training to Race Day

You’re in a hurry to get to work, and the last thing you have time to do is cook a full meal of all the things you should be eating for breakfast. How bad would it really be to grab a box of doughnuts at the gas station down the street?

If you’re worried about your running performance, you should pick the right foods to best fuel your runs and you should never skip your morning meal. What should runners eat for breakfast?

1. Be Bonkers for Bananas

This potassium-rich food is a runner’s best friend at any time of the day. Eating a banana for breakfast will ensure a healthy dose of both potassium and magnesium which should help keep your legs cramp-free throughout the day.

banana

Bananas are a versatile food -- if you don’t want to eat one plain for breakfast, you can chop it up and put it in a bowl of oatmeal or blend it into a smoothie.

2. Get Your Dairy On with Yogurt

Before you grab the yummiest-sounding yogurt off the grocery store shelf, you need to take a hard look at your yogurt selection. All yogurts are not created equal -- some have way too much sugar, little or no live cultures of bacteria and too much saturated fat.

yogurt

Find a container that includes gut-friendly live cultures -- the more kinds, the better. Dodge the kinds that contain too much sugar and fat, and if you can, opt for a plain yogurt that you can jazz up with fresh fruit at home.

3. Eggs are Excellent for Runners

Eggs used to get a bad rap in the nutrition world because of the cholesterol they contain. But these days, the restrictions on eggs have been lifted.

egg

Not only are eggs a popular and filling breakfast choice, they contain the protein and amino acids that your recovering muscles need. Plus, a large egg only contains about 70 calories, which is great news for weight-conscious runners.

4. Oatmeal Benefits Everyone

Oatmeal is a great choice because it will provide you with fuel and a boatload of nutrients that your body needs. You’ll get plenty of complex carbohydrates, fiber, and a host of nutrients, including manganese, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc.

Oatmeal

You can prepare your oatmeal with a different topping every morning to keep it interesting. Try maple syrup, honey, fruit or nuts.

5. Toast a Bagel or English muffin

If you’re doing a morning run or race, try to eat a bagel about two hours before you start. It can give your body some much-needed fuel to power through your race.

Those who prefer some extra protein with their carbs can add a layer of peanut butter or other nut butter on top of the bagel.

6. Pancakes Sweetened with Produce

pancakes

To feel like you’re having a feast for breakfast, chow down on some produce-packed pancakes. You can put some canned pumpkin in your pancakes for a fall-inspired treat, or you can stuff it with blueberries, bananas, strawberries or any other kind of fruit that strikes your fancy.

Consider adding whole wheat flour to your pancakes instead of white flour to boost their nutritional content.

7. Berry Good For You

Load up on all sorts of berries for breakfast. Whether you enjoy a bowl of them plain, stir some into your yogurt or oatmeal, or add them into your pancakes, berries provide a lot of nutrients for very little calories.

berry

You’ll get a lot of vitamins in just a few berries, and the more vitamins you can cram in as a runner, the better off you are.

8. Pick up a Papaya

Papaya contains a lot of vitamin C which is a crucial nutrient for runners because it can help runners with recovery and it may help boost their immune systems. Less colds and flu means less time you’ll have to take off of running.

papaya

For people who don’t like strong flavors, overly sweet fruit or anything with a lot of fruit acid in the morning, papayas are a good choice. They have a mild flavor and are reasonable when it comes to calories.

9. Toss Back Some Walnuts

Whether you add them to your oatmeal, or just grab a handful as you dash out the door, adding nuts, like walnuts, to your morning mix can help take your training to the next level. Walnuts contain Omega-3 fats that can help your body fight inflammation and keep you in tip-top running form.

walnuts

Keep the portion size reasonable though -- a few nuts can look pretty paltry in your hand, but if you overindulge you might find in a week or two that you’re gaining weight.

10. An Apple a Day

Apples are filling, tasty and pack a nutritional wallop. They contain many nutrients, but perhaps one of the most important ones for runners is quercetin.

apple

Quercetin may ramp up your endurance and cut back on muscle soreness.

11. It’s a Wrap

If you’re more of a sandwich type of person, you can build a tasty breakfast wrap in a minute or two and eat it on the go. All you need is a tortilla and and as many healthy foods as you can pile in there.

wrap

You can use turkey or egg, cheese and a few veggies, and you’ll have a filling, healthy breakfast that will stick with you throughout the morning.

Variety is Key

Whether you’re a hardcore elite runner or simply a weekend warrior, you should never skip breakfast. You wouldn’t try to drive your car on an empty tank and you shouldn’t expect your body to perform that way either.

To get the most benefit from your breakfasts, you should include more than one food and try to make sound nutritional choices. Choosing a variety of items to include in your breakfast each week will help you keep a diverse supply of nutrients in your body.

To fight the enormous hunger that runners can face, try to incorporate some protein and fiber into your morning meal. That protein and fiber will keep you feeling full longer than simple carbohydrates will.

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