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Five Fast and Healthy Ways to Start Your Day

By Monique Ryan

breakfastYou can tweak your training plan, invest in the best gear, and push yourself harder than ever this year in triathlon. But if you’re not eating the right breakfast, you’re not getting the most out of your morning workouts — or the rest of the day. Breakfast provides morning training fuel, post-workout recovery fuel, and sets up the day for proper fueling before an evening workout. Research also indicates that regular breakfast eaters do a better job of maintaining their weight, and manage hunger better throughout the day- especially when that fiber filled breakfast contains some protein as well.

Here are five menus to get you out the door fast and fueled.

1. The No-Brainer Breakfast
Works for non-workout mornings. Start a rest day right with a meal that includes whole-grain, low-sugar cereal (no more than eight grams of sugar per cup), an antioxidant-rich fruit like berries or cantaloupe, and enough protein to keep you satisfied until lunchtime.

3/4 cup granola
6 oz plain lowfat Greek-style yogurt
1 cup strawberries
12 almonds

530 calories, 20 g protein, 85 g carbohydrate, 12 g fat, 9 g fiber

2. Quick-Energy Breakfast
Best before an easy workout — with a bit of digestion time. Save the big meal for after your workout. But a light meal before training can provide the energy you need to sustain blood glucose levels and have a better quality workout. The key is to have easily digested foods and liquids of mainly carbs and some protein. If you have a very sensitive stomach, or the timing is just too close, opt for just the liquid smoothie.

2 slices of whole-grain toast with1 tbsp peanut butter
12 oz skim milk blended with 1 cup frozen blueberries

460 calories, 23 g protein, 70 g carbohydrate, 10 g fat, 9.5 g fiber

3. Recovery Breakfast
Perfect for after a cardio workout. This one is also built around fresh fruits and whole grains — but it’s higher in quick-burning high glycemic carbs, for faster recovery.  The protein also aids in the recovery process.

1 hardboiled egg or 1 oz string cheese
1 cup bran cereal with 1 tbsp raisins and 8 oz skim milk
1 banana

560 calories, 24 g protein, 97 g carbohydrate, 8 g fat, 12 g fiber

4. Power Breakfast
Perfect for before and after resistance workouts. To maximize muscle building, down 15 to 25 grams of high-quality protein 30 to 60 minutes before you begin resistance training. Repeat this breakfast after particularly intense resistance workouts — it aids in recovery, too.

4 egg whites, scrambled
1 cup cooked oatmeal
1 peach, sliced
8 oz lowfat chocolate milk
4 Tbsp protein powder

525 calories, 41 g protein, 77 g carbohydrate, 6 g fat, 9 g fiber

5. Portable Breakfast
Perfect for hurried mornings. Eat this portable breakfast in the car, on the train, or once you get to your desk. It will leave you feeling better than that Danish from the coffee cart.

One large whole-wheat tortilla containing:
1 egg or 3 egg whites, scrambled
1–2 oz low-fat cheese
1 sweet red or green pepper, diced
1 tomato, diced

400 calories, 31 g protein, 52 g carbohydrate, 8 g fat, 8 g fiber

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Monique Ryan, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN is the leading endurance sports nutritionist. Her nearly 30 years of professional experience working with Olympic (consultant to USAT and USA Cycling), elite and age group endurance athletes and professional sports teams make her one of the most experienced and qualified sports nutritionists in the U.S. Ryan is founder of Chicago-based Personal Nutrition Designs and the best-selling author of Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes (3rd edition, VeloPress) and three other sports nutrition books. PND provides detailed nutrition plans for triathletes across North America competing in all race distances, with programs at  Ryan is a Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics.