Fueling for Performance: The Runner’s Breakfast

This year we’re focusing on fundamentals – the bedrock principles that make you a better, faster, healthier runner.

runners diet

And there’s no better place to see how far we’ve strayed from the fundamentals than diet and nutrition.

Just look at the proliferation of niche diets out there:

  • Atkins / Paleo / Primal / Low-carb / Ancestral / HFLC
  • The Zone Diet
  • Oil-free / Alkaline / Raw

I’m amazed that we haven’t all retreated to eating hamburgers and fries for every meal because diet has become so confusing…

Can we just get back to basics? Can we focus on the fundamentals – rather than the minutiae – of eating healthy?

Not only are fundamentals simpler and easier to adhere to (and remember, the best “diet” is the one that you’ll stick with long-term), but it’s far more effective at fueling hard-working runners.

When I worked with marathoner and Registered Dietitian Anne Mauney to create Nutrition for Runners, we had three goals:

  1. Develop a nutrition program that did NOT force you to count calories, assign points to your food, or calculate macronutrient percentages
  2. Give you the exact structure of how to plan your meals and snacks, no matter if you ran predawn or in the evening
  3. Provide a wealth of recipes that were runner-friendly, kept you full, and reduced late-night snacking

This back-to-basics approach has led to overwhelming success for our runners. Just last week I got this note:

“I am LOVING the information in Nutrition for Runners! As a behavior analyst and new runner (a little more than a year), it has been crazy trying to research all of this on my own. I can hardly wait to implement the plans.” – Joyce

One of the major reasons why this program works so well is because our guidance and recipes revolve around one fundamental truth:

Meals and snacks must be well-rounded.

After all these years… your Mom was right that you need well-balanced meals!

What is a Well-Rounded Meal?

At its core, a well-rounded meal includes all three macronutrients:

  • Carbohydrate
  • Fat
  • Protein

Simple, isn’t it?

But how many of us eat toast and a banana for breakfast or a salad with no protein or fat for lunch?

We’re ignoring 1-2 macronutrients and inevitably, we’re starving an hour later. There’s no satiety to the meal.

As soon as we put ourselves in a position of being overly hungry between meals, we risk overindulging in questionable snacks at the expense of more nutrient-dense foods.

And it’s clear from speaking with numerous dietitians (four were interviewed for the Nutrition for Runners program) and elite athletes that this is a huge problem.

Take my conversation with Shalane Flanagan.

She doesn’t follow a diet. She eats a lot of fat. Her meals leave her satisfied because they include all three macronutrients.

You can also look at how Kimber Mattox eats. Or elite marathoner Ariana Hilborn’s diet.

The vast majority of these athlete’s meals include all three macronutrients.

It’s a simple – but very powerful – way to reduce food cravings, get more nutrition from your diet, and better fuel your running.

The Blueberry Pancake Breakfast

Blueberry Pancake Recipe

The hardest meal of the day to follow this principle is breakfast.

I know I’ve struggled – and often I quickly grab a banana and a coffee before I run about an hour or two later (you can see my week-long food log here).

But we all can do better. So I asked Anne Mauney if I could use this runner-friendly pancake recipe to better prepare us runners for the day.

It’s a powerhouse. It:

  • includes all three macronutrients
  • is super easy to prepare
  • takes less than 10 minutes in the kitchen

Before you get started, here are the ingredients you’ll need for the pancake:

  • 1/4 cup spelt flour
  • 1/3 cup whole milk (or non-dairy substitute)
  • 1/3 cup blueberries
  • 1 Tbsp. finely ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 tsp. unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • Few shakes cinnamon

And for the topping:

  • One large spoonful of Greek yogurt (full fat preferred)
  • One small (or half a large) very ripe banana, mashed
  • Drizzle of maple syrup

Ready for the instructions? They’re really complex 😉

Mix all of the pancake ingredients in a bowl and mix them together. Then pour the batter into a non-stick or greased pan. After a minute or two (when the pancake is golden brown), flip the pancake to the other side and cook for another minute or two.

And you’re done!

This simple recipe will keep you full a lot longer than a plain pancake and give you higher energy and more nutrition.

That’s a win-win-win in my book!

A Bonus Recipe

We have a lot of diet, nutrition, and weight loss goodness waiting for you right here.

You’ll see the major diet mistakes that consistently derail runner’s progress and inspiring diet success stories from other runners.

The best part?

I’ve got another great recipe for you: The Chocolate Cherry Espresso Smoothie Recipe.

chocolate cherry espresso smoothie

This type of breakfast is my favorite: mostly carbohydrate with a dash of protein and fat.

And I love that it has a caffeine kick. What can I say? I’m an addict.

Just sign up here and you’ll get it in your inbox soon.

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Trackbacks

  1. […] on the food-related front: my buddy Jason from Strength Running shared a great post on fueling for performance on his blog yesterday (it includes one of my favorite post-run breakfast recipes!). Check it […]