Cristina Rivera, a registered dietician and president of Nutrition In Motion PC, relies on breakfast for training recovery. “I work long hours and I am training for a marathon, I rely on this meal to provide me with the energy I need to get me through days jam-packed with work and intense training regimes,” says Rivera.
According to Rivera, our muscles and brain need fuel immediately upon waking. Neglecting to eat breakfast will force your body to break down glycogen — stored energy in muscle used during exercise — so it can fuel up. This results in less available energy and can lead to sugar cravings later in the day.
“For an athlete, this translates into an inability to perform to your potential and an increased risk of injury. For those who are weight conscious, eating within an hour of waking up stimulates metabolism, which means you burn more calories throughout the day,” says Rivera.
After eating a small snack and going on a run, Rivera cooks herself a breakfast of a half-cup of oats with 1 cup of skim milk. “Raw oats are minimally processed, contain energy producing B vitamins and are a great source of carbohydrates to replenish muscle glycogen after a run. I make it with milk instead of water so that I have the added benefits of calcium, vitamin D and protein to aide in muscle growth and recovery.”
For flavor, she adds cinnamon, 2 tablespoons of dried cranberries and 2 tablespoons of sliced raw almonds to her oatmeal. “The cranberries are loaded with antioxidants, which counteract oxidative stress that happens to your body during an intense workout,” says Rivera. “Almonds are high in omega-3s, which is a heart-healthy fat known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Adding foods rich in omega-3s to your recovery meal decreases muscle soreness and decreases your risk of injury.”