4 Tips for Eating Breakfast like a Basketball Champion
Basketball players have all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. As we sleep, our bodies use up most of what we consumed the day before, so after not eating for 6-12 hours overnight – it’s easy to understand why the foods that we choose to eat first thing upon rising are key to overall healthy nutrition and lifestyle. Given that modern day basketball often includes extreme training and as many as 4 -5 tournament games in a day, it is critical that we embrace the importance of enhancing performance and health via nutrition.
The typical American breakfast usually consists of a large bowl of sugar-laden cereal with a glass of artificial orange juice or maybe a plate of syrup topped pancakes with fatty bacon. Regardless of what your breakfast plate or bowl might currently look like, the most common breakfast foods consumed today are nutritionally deficient leaving the body starving for nutrient packed foods. Regardless of how these foods may taste, the reality is that a breakfast void of nutrients does not promote a healthy metabolism or digestion and increases your chances of making poor food choices throughout the rest of the day.
It’s time to start changing our view on the most important meal of the day, so I’m going to share with you my top four tips for eating breakfast like a true basketball champion!
- Start by making time – the most common hurdle to not eating a healthy breakfast every day is having enough time. Healthy eating preparation usually requires more time than convenience, processed foods, so it can be challenging when you have to be at work or school early in the morning and you want to take advantage of as much time in bed as possible. Unfortunately, this is an excuse and the decision to begin eating a wholesome breakfast each day starts with you deciding to get up 20-30 minutes earlier and making time for it. I can’t think of many wholesome, balanced breakfasts that can be made in 5 minutes or less unless you intend on continuing to grab the pop-tarts and doughnuts. The first step to eating breakfast like a champion is to set your alarm earlier and make time to fuel yourself properly in the mornings.
- Pack on the lean protein – in order to build strong, lean muscles the body must have enough amino acids (building blocks of protein) from protein each day and this starts at breakfast! Rather than grabbing for the cereal bars, doughnuts and pop-tarts, start by filling your plate with high quality, lean protein choices like eggs (or egg whites if you prefer), low-sugar greek yogurt, a protein shake, black beans and turkey bacon or sausage. Increasing your protein intake in the mornings will leave you feeling full longer rather than driving up your blood sugar quickly which always leads to a mid-morning crash. When this blood sugar crash happens you’re more likely to make poor snack and lunch choices setting a bad nutritional tone for your entire day.
- Complex carbs are your friend – there are currently several “diets” out there that promote a low-carb strategy to achieving the best nutrition. While eliminating your intake of simple carbohydrates like refined flours, sugars and foods is a great idea for everyone, decreasing your intake of complex carbohydrates is not a good idea. Complex carbohydrates are digested much more slowly than simple carbs, therefore their effect on the body is very different. Complex carbs don’t cause a rapid increase in blood sugar or insulin like simple carbs do and are necessary to support a healthy, efficient metabolism – especially for highly active people like athletes. Just as a car needs gas to operate, our bodies need complex carbs for energy. Be sure to add complex carbs like oatmeal (not instant), whole grain cereals (Bob’s 10-grain or Nature’s Path) and fresh veggies and fruits to your breakfast each day.
- Fill up on fiber – many Americans are not getting their recommended daily amount of fiber (30g). Fiber is an essential part of balanced nutrition in that it helps the body to maintain stable blood sugar levels throughout the day and keeps the intestinal tract squeaky clean by promoting healthy bowel movements. Most complex carbs contain a good amount of fiber, but it’s always a good idea to add more to give yourself a jump start for the day on your fiber intake. Including a few tablespoons of ground flax and chia seeds are a simple way to add more fiber to your protein shakes, oatmeal and whole grain cereals. Don’t be stingy with the fiber because champions get enough fiber for breakfast!
5 Day Healthy Basketball Breakfast Plan For Champions
Now that you understand the macronutrients that should make up your breakfast, I’m going to help kick start your new regimen by providing you with five different meal examples. Feel free to mix and match all of these as you’d like, but you’ll notice that in each day I was sure to include protein, complex carbohydrates and fiber no what the combination of foods were. If you stick to this rule, you will be eating a balanced breakfast.
Basketball Breakfast #1: 2-3 scrambled eggs (or egg whites), 1/2 – 1 cup oatmeal with 2 Tbsp. ground chia seeds sweetened with raw honey (add nuts or dried fruit if you’d like), pineapple slices
Breakfast #2: Omelet with your choice of veggies like spinach, onions, garlic, bell peppers, sweet potatoes, etc… 1 Ezekiel English muffin topped with raw honey and a pinch of ground chia or flax seeds, handful of blueberries
Breakfast #3: 1/2 -1 cup of black beans with sautéed asparagus, 1 large apple with peanut or almond butter
Breakfast #4: 1/2-1 cup of Bob’s Red Mill 10-grain cereal, 1 scoop of protein shake with non-dairy (flax, almond, soy, hemp, coconut) or low-fat milk add fruit of choice if desired
Breakfast #5: 1 high-fiber, low-sugar bran muffin, 1 hard-boiled egg, choice of lean turkey sausage or bacon
The keys to eating a healthy breakfast are strategy and time. Now that you understand the kinds of foods that should be filling your plates and bowls you are on your way to fueling your muscles and metabolism properly so that you can enjoy breakfast like a basketball champion!