If you run early in the morning, breakfast serves as your post-run meal and will help you recover from your workout. If you run later in the day, breakfast serves as fuel for your run. Regardless of when you run, breakfast provides the chance to nourish your body with nutritious foods – it’s not a meal to skip, whether your goal is weight loss or training for a race.
While it’s better to eat something than nothing at all, you do not want to make a habit of reaching for a donut or a sugary bowl of cereal. These foods do not contain many nutrients nor do they have a high satiety factor. The high amount of refined sugar will leave you feeling hungry within an hour or two and the lack of nutrients will not help your body recover from your last workout.
Ideally, you want to eat a combination of the three macronutrients—carbohydrates, protein, and fat—at breakfast. In order to optimize nutrition and satiety, pick complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Complex carbohydrates include oats, whole grain bread, potatoes, quinoa, and other whole grains. The best options for lean protein at breakfast include Greek yogurt, whole grains, eggs, seeds, nuts, and a high-quality protein powder. For healthy fats, you can reach for every runner’s favorite—peanut butter or almond butter—or rely on your protein source such as eggs.
Finally, don’t forget fruits and vegetables! In order reach your 6-9 servings of vegetables and fruits per day, you want to include some at breakfast. Throw some greens and berries in your smoothie, add carrots and raisins to your oatmeal, or have a sweet potato and bell peppers with your scrambled eggs. Fruit and vegetables provide carbohydrates and a wide array of essential vitamins and minerals, along with bulking up the meal so you feel satisfied for the rest of the morning.
Especially if your breakfast is your post-run meal, you want to favor a combination of carbohydrates and protein. Complex carbohydrates will replenish your glycogen stores, which is how your body stores carbohydrates to use for energy on a run, and help you stay energized throughout the day. Protein will aid in muscle repair, boost your metabolism, and keep runger at bay throughout the day.
These three power breakfasts will help you recover and refuel after a run or fuel for your next workout.
Blueberry Teff Pancakes
After your weekend long run, you want a meal that tastes good while providing you with the carbohydrates and protein your body needs. Teff is a gluten-free grain and staple in Kenyan diets that provides complex carbs, protein, iron, calcium, and other nutrients. These pancakes provide a hearty and indulgent-tasting breakfast that is packed with vitamins, minerals, and complex carbohydrates.
1 tablespoon coconut oil or butter, melted (plus more for greasing the pan)
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
¾ cup (6 ounces) milk of choice
½ cup (2 ounces) teff flour
½ cup + 1 tablespoon (2.2 ounces) whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
~1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
How to Prepare:
- Whisk together the egg, coconut oil, and maple syrup in a mixing bowl. Add the milk and stir to combine.
- Carefully measure the flours (do not pack—measure by weight or spoon into the measuring cups). Add the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon and gently stir to combine. You do not want to over mix, as this will result in flat pancakes.
- If needed, add a tablespoon or two of water to reach the desired consistency. The pancake should be smooth and easy to scoop.
- Heat a flat skillet or pan over medium low heat on the stovetop. Lightly grease with coconut oil or butter. Once the pan is hot (drops of water should sizzle on it), pour approximately 1/3 cup onto the skillet. Most pans will cook two pancakes at a time – don’t crowd the pan. Sprinkle a handful of blueberries on top of each pancake as soon as you pour the batter.
- When the edges are firm and bubble form on the top, flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until the pancake is golden brown on both sides. Remove from heat. Keep any pancakes warm in the oven (set to 170 degrees F or lowest heat) as you prepare the rest.
- You can freeze these pancakes for a quick weekday breakfast. Serve with maple syrup or Greek yogurt and fruit.
For a creamy bowl of oatmeal that offers a powerful protein boost, try whisking in an egg before you finish cooking. Oats are already a nutritional powerhouse for runners, as they are packed with heart-healthy fiber, protein, iron, magnesium, and other vitamins and minerals. Eggs provide a complete protein, iron, B-vitamins, and healthy fats. A small spoonful of almond butter adds some more protein and healthy fats. Berries provide antioxidants to aid in muscle recovery. You will feel satisfied for hours, even after a hard or long run.
½ cup rolled oats
1 cup water
Pinch of salt
Dash of cinnamon
1 tablespoon almond butter (or other nut/seed butter)
Fruit of choice: banana, berries, apple, etc.
How to Prepare:
- Add the water and oats to a pot and bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring frequently. Once the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cook until the oats absorb the water, still stirring frequently.
- Once the oats have absorbed the water, crack the egg into the pot and immediately whisk it until combined, for approximately 45-60 seconds.
- Season the oats with a pinch of salt and cinnamon.
- Serve the oats in a bowl and top with almond butter and fruit.
Sweet Potato Toasts with Eggs and Greens
For those who prefer a savory breakfast, look no further than the powerful combination of eggs and potatoes. Sweet potatoes are rich in complex carbohydrates, potassium, vitamin A, magnesium, and several other vitamins and minerals. Eggs are a complete protein, meaning they provide all nine essential amino acids. Kale rounds out the nutritional powerhouse of this meal, with calcium, vitamin C, and vitamin B-6.
1 sweet potato
Handful of kale, destemmed and washed
1 tablespoon of olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste
How to Prepare:
- Slice the sweet potato lengthwise into long slice about ¼-inch thick. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Using either a toaster or toaster oven, toast the sweet potato slices until cooked through, flipping halfway through if using a toaster oven.
- Meanwhile, heat the remainder of the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Saute the kale until cooked, about 3-5 minutes, and remove from the pan. Add the eggs and cook until the whites set and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- To serve, top two sweet potato slice with the sauteed kale and one eggs each.
(You will likely have extra sweet potato slices—enjoy on the side or save for another meal.)