Paleo Breakfast for Champions

BY Nell Stephenson

When converting to a Paleo Lifestyle, many people find breakfast to be the most challenging time of day to eat within the Paleo Realm.

When converting to a Paleo Lifestyle, many people find breakfast to be the most challenging time of day to eat within the Paleo Realm.

No doubt, this is likely due to the conditioning we’ve likely all received that “a healthy way to start the day is with a grain-based product (cereal, bagel, toast and so on!)”.

While it’s obvious that the sugary cereals that are often marketed to kids, as well as the baked goods in the café, like muffins or scones, are not exactly healthy options, when we follow The Paleo Diet, we also recognize that most of the typical ‘breakfast foods’ are, in fact, grain-based and therefore, a total no-go.

The idea that certain foods as being for breakfast, others for lunch & dinner and others for snacks needs revamping; the first step is to throw that thinking out the window!  Food is food, no matter what time of day, and eating veg in the morning is a great time of day to do so!

I do, personally, eat veggies and meat, or chicken or fish for breakfast on a typical off-day from training, or on a day when I don’t have a workout until mid-day, which are great options for many people… but what to eat if you’re an athlete preparing for a endurance workout?

I change my breakfast if I’ve got a big workout to do straight away.  Rather than the protein and veg-heavy foods I mentioned above, I’ll opt for a starchier (via yam, sweet potato or banana) and easier to digest (like egg whites) combination so that I’m not only well fueled, but I don’t have to wait too long to digest!

The other significant change is that my pre-workout meal differs from my meals eaten outside of the training meals in terms of the macro nutrient ratio.  A typical Paleo Meal has roughly a 40/30/30 breakdown of foods, while a pre- or post-workout meal is more in keeping with the ideal 4:1 carbohydrate: protein ratio.

Following are some great ideas for those of you who are athletes looking for a great way to start the day, pre-workout, while remaining Paleo.  (*The amount one should consume will be determined by body weight and intensity and duration of the workout session.)  Experiment a bit and see how much you need to eat, based on how you feel during the workout and changing the subsequent meal accordingly!

  • Baked yam, hard-boiled egg whites, olive oil, banana, raw almond butter.
  • Homemade smoothie:  chilled green tea, egg white protein powder, banana, raw almond butter, and flax seed
  • Baked sweet potato, natural (unsweetened) applesauce, sliced lean turkey breast, olive oil.

Stick with higher glycemic fruits right before and after a workout.  Also remember to add some table salt; we, as athletes, need to replace lost electrolytes and also may need to supplement with electrolyte tabs, depending on intensity & duration of our workouts, as well as ambient conditions and individual sweat rates.

Experiment with the above suggestions and make changes to keep it varied:  try pineapple in a smoothie instead of banana, or use baby food banana instead of applesauce.

Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of thinking that you have to resort to non-Paleo foods to support an athletic performance.  If I can stay Paleo while racing Ironman, and my husband can also do that and, in addition, stick to it while racing 100-mile endurance runs, I think it’s safe to say that eating Paleo completely supports endurance racing, as well as any athletic endeavor!

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About Nell Stephenson

Nell Stephenson, personal fitness trainer, nutritional counselor, Paleolithic eating coach & athlete, graduated from University of Southern California In Los Angeles, with a BS in Exercise Science, and received her Health/Fitness Instructor Certification from the American College of Sports Medicine. ‘Read more about Nell and view her nutrition plans on TrainingPeaks here.