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Breakfast for Runners: The Essential Kick-Start to the Day

Breakfast is termed as the ‘most important meal of the day’. Ever wondered, why? It is because breakfast is the first meal that breaks your overnight fast and replenishes your body to get going for the day.1,2

Although your body is at rest when you are asleep, metabolic processes do not stop. This needs energy! By morning, the energy supplies may have exhausted, making you feel tired. Cortisol, the stress hormone, is released in response to depleted energy levels, which further breaks down the muscle protein and fat, making you hungry. Therefore, a healthy breakfast is a must to get adequate nutrition in the right quantity and quality.1,2

Breakfast for performance

Breakfast is critically important for your run. A good breakfast can directly impact your physical and mental well-being, and thus your performance.2

A runner’s breakfast should ideally be rich in carbohydrates, which is the primary source of fuel; moderate in proteins; and low in fats. It should include plenty of fluids. Proteins help in building and maintaining muscle mass, whereas fats act as an alternate source of fuel for your body.2,3

Tips for nutritious and easy-to-make breakfast

Cooking a lavish breakfast every day can be an uphill task, considering the training demands and the busy schedules. The key lies in planning your breakfast well. Here are some of the simple ways in which you can add nutrition to your everyday breakfast and make the most of it.2-4

• Choose cereals and whole grain foods such as oats, brown rice, whole wheat bread, etc. Some of the cereals are fortified with nutrients such as iron, calcium or vitamins, essential to keep you fit.

• Find out ways to include colourful and/or seasonal fruits in your breakfast. Milk- or yoghurt-based smoothie is one such quick and easy-to-make example.

• Foods taken from various food groups such as cereals (bread, poha and broken wheat), dairy products (curd, milk and paneer) and colourful fruits and vegetables should be included, which helps making the breakfast interesting.

• A handful of dry fruits such as almonds, walnuts, dates and raisins or seeds such as sunflower seeds can provide healthy fats too.2-4

1. Rogers PJ. How important is breakfast? Br J Nutr. 1997 Aug;78(2):197-8.
2. Sutter Health Palo Alto Medical Foundation. Sports Nutrition. CA, USA: Palo Alto Medical Foundation; 2015.
3. Dieticians of Canada. Nutrition and athletic performance: Position paper. Ontario, Canada: Dietitians of Canada, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American College of Sports Medicine; 2016.
4. Runners world. Nutrition for runners. NY, USA: Rodale Inc.; 2011.