Good Eats

Mother Breakfast

What does a healthy breakfast look like for the typical busy, athletic adult who’s short on time? It requires few ingredients. It’s easy to clean up. It tastes good. You can consume it in a few minutes. If not? Bye-bye breakfast!

Many scientific studies have shown omitting breakfast can negatively impact both weight loss and athletic performance. A study conducted by the School of Life Sciences at Northumbria University found exercising in the morning while fasting impaired athletic performance. When the athletes ate breakfast, their exercise performance was 4.5% higher. “But Jen,” you say, “I thought running on empty will help me burn more calories and fat!” It can be tempting to skip breakfast and run on empty. Some claim fasted workouts will burn more fat than having eaten a healthy meal before hitting the road. But studies do not back up those claims. The University of Padula in Italy found fasting before exercise doesn’t enhance fat loss but performing physical activity after a light meal does aide in fat loss.

My favorite breakfast smoothie is the perfect mix of carbohydrates and protein. It is a light, but filling meal that will properly fuel your workout and help you blast calories and fat while you run. It’s fast. It’s easy. I make it in my Vitamix blender. I love this machine. In fact, I think I could get rid of all the other appliances in my kitchen. Well, except the coffee pot…and the wine opener. (Did I mention I have three kids?)

Ok onto the good stuff: my breakfast smoothie. I start with a cup of So Delicious Very Vanilla Soy Milk. Sometimes, if I want fewer calories in the morning, I opt for So Delicious Vanilla Almond Plus milk which has 70 calories, 8 grams of sugar and 5 grams of protein compared to Soy’s 130 calories, six grams of protein and 15g sugar. You can use whatever milk you like, just note the calories you’re consuming. I add a scoop of Vega Sport Vanilla Performance Protein, and ½ cup frozen berries. I prefer the Sport version of Vega’s protein powder for two reasons. First, it contains a bit more pea protein than the VegaOne offering (about five grams more). Second, it also contains 5,000 mg of branch chain amino acids (BCAA). Why are those important to me and why should they be important to you? Read about it in The Athlete Knows box.

Vega has just reformulated their VegaSport Performance protein powder. I can’t wait to try it! Once I do, I will review it.

The thing I love most about my morning smoothie, aside from the fact I can blend it in about 30 seconds, is if I get bored I can change it up with whatever I have in the house. Change the fruit or add a cup of fresh spinach. Clean up in the Vitamix is a breeze. I rinse it out and add about a cup of water and a few drops of dish soap, put it on for a minute or so and then rinse it again. Done. It’s a two-minute cleanup process.

Morning Smoothie:
1 cup Vanilla Soy Milk
½ cup fresh or frozen berries
1 scoop Vega Sport Performance Protein.
1 cup fresh baby Spinach

Throw it in a Vitamix blender and increase speed to high for about 30 seconds.

294 calories, 33grams protein, 29 grams carbohydrates, and 4 grams of fat.

Mix it up: Swap Blueberries for the strawberries. Add some baby kale. Options are endless. Have fun!

Exercising fasting or fed to enhance fat loss? Influence of food intake on respiratory ratio and excess postexercise oxygen consumption after a bout of endurance training.
Paoli A1, Marcolin G, Zonin F, Neri M, Sivieri A, Pacelli QF.

Breakfast and exercise contingently affect postprandial metabolism and energy balance in physically active males. Gonzalez JT1, Veasey RC, Rumbold PL, Stevenson EJ.

The Athlete Knows: Branch Chain Amino Acids

Branch chain amino acids, or BCAAs, help you build muscle and improve recovery. Amino acids are the building blocks for muscle and digestive enzymes, hormones, antibodies and others proteins. Your body utilizes 20 amino acids. There are two types: essential and non-essential. Branch chain amino acids are part of the group known as essential amino acids. Since your body doesn’t produce essential amino acids on its own, it is important to get them through your diet.

Do you HAVE to supplement? No. BCAAs can be found in a variety of foods. Whey and milk proteins, beef, chicken, eggs, and fish contain BCAAs. Luckily for my fellow vegan and vegetarian friends, they are also rich and abundant in plant-based foods! Soy proteins, baked beans, whole wheat, brown rice, almonds, brazil nuts, pumpkins seeds, lima beans, chickpeas, cashew nuts, lentils, and corn all have BCAA goodness. You can be a successful, healthy athlete without having to eat animal-based products!