3 Protein-Packed Breakfast Ideas for Lifters and Athletes
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Breakfast is one of those meals that lifters and athletes typically hold near and dear to their hearts. Of all of the meals in the day, breakfast for active individuals tends to be one that is often held as a daily ritual that sets the tone for the day.
A great breakfast needs to be individual and consist of foods and nutrients that will help play a role in supporting your daily energy levels and performance. A great breakfast for you may look different than what it looks like for others and that’s totally okay.
Now, obviously, if you don’t enjoy breakfast or like to eat later in the day, this article is not intended to say you absolutely need breakfast to set a strong tone for the day or change your nutritional habits. More than likely, for all of my breakfast skippers out there, your first meal is much like someone who eats earlier in the day in that your first meal is built with strategy.
In this article, we’re going to discuss strategies for building breakfasts and I’ll share three of my favorite protein-packed ideas for lifters and athletes in different contexts.
For lifters and athletes, there are two key strategies that I love using for building protein-packed breakfasts. These strategies account for the macronutrients that will help fuel performance and meal timing to ensure strong performance.
1. Build a Macronutrient Hierarchy
The first strategy is building a hierarchy of the macronutrients that you want your breakfast to consist of. For lifters and athletes, more than likely their macronutrient hierarchy will look like the following:
This hierarchy is your guiding light for breakfast creation. We all have our daily goals and totals to hit, so use this hierarchy to help guide your food selection to ensure you’re hitting the goals and totals you’ve set for yourself (more on totals below).
Protein is always the top macronutrient in the hierarchy because this will help stimulate muscle protein synthesis after a night of fasting. Muscle protein synthesis (MPS) is the utilization of protein to repair and rebuild our muscles which can help with the continuity of a lifter and athlete’s growth.
Carbohydrates and fat can rotate based on your training schedule and dietary preferences. For example, if you have a more active morning or lifestyle, then you may want to prioritize a higher carb intake for energy purposes and then make fat a second-tier priority.
In practice, this could look like the following:
- Protein: 30g (120kcals)
- Carbs: 60g (2400kcals)
- Fat: 15g (135kcals)
- Caloric Total: 500kcals
In this context, the goal is making sure you’re hitting your 30g of protein, then hitting your carbohydrate and fat goals and selecting foods that allow you to do this.
It’s incredibly important that when you create this hierarchy to account for your daily totals and nutritional needs. The numbers above are just examples and your totals should coincide with your goals.
2. Optimally Time Your Breakfast
Once you’ve built your hierarchy and have selected the food that will best fit the totals you’re trying to hit, now it’s time to consume your breakfast per your lifestyle and training.
If you’re training hard early in the morning and like to eat beforehand, then you’ll likely want to consume your breakfast at least 60-90 minutes before your session to avoid digestive discomfort. Likely, in this case, too, your hierarchy will resemble a protein, carb, and fat flow to ensure you’re eating to fuel your activities.
Conversely, let’s say you’re not training until later in the day. In this case, you may want to follow a protein, fat, and carb hierarchy since the fat will help with longer-term fullness.
If you can dial in these two aspects, then your breakfasts can become more automatic in nature, which I think is huge for long-term performance and nutritional adherence. Basically, you’ll be building meals that you enjoy, that fit well into your goals, and you’ll know exactly how they make you feel.
Below, I’ve provided three protein-packed breakfast ideas for a variety of contexts. I would suggest either using these as-is if they match your training and lifestyle setting well or tweaking them to match your goals and needs.
1. Overnight Protein Oats for the Busy Lifter
The first meal is the most simple to make and an incredibly tasty protein-packed option. Overnight oats mean that we’re making our oats the night before and leaving them in the fridge so in the morning we have a cooled-down oatmeal blend.
The best part about overnight oats is that you can add a variety of ingredients that provide your oatmeal with a flavor-packed kick. Plus, overnight oats are super convenient and take literally no time to make in your morning, so they’re a great option for getting you more time back in your morning.
- 1 Scoop of protein powder (select a flavor you love!)
- 1/2 cup of oatmeal
- 1/2 cup of strawberries or blueberries (depending on your protein flavor)
Morning add-on options:
- Mix all of your ingredients together and place them in an air-locked container in your refrigerator overnight.
- In the morning, feel free to add more liquid if your oatmeal got a bit dry. The additional liquid will help with consistency and consumption. You can also add morning add-ons for additional flavor and macronutrients per your wants.
2. Oatmeal and Egg White Combo
The second recipe is for egg white and oatmeal lovers. If you love protein-packed oatmeal recipes that you can fully customize, then this option is for you.
- Mix all of your ingredients together and cook your oatmeal as normal. Once you have your oatmeal, feel free to customize the toppings and sides you prefer.
- If you want additional carbs for training, then bananas and other fruit can be a good option, and if you want more fat, then peanut butter and almond butter are good options.
3. The Ultimate Omelette Lover Breakfast
The final recipe is the biggest of the three and is best for those that love a big breakfast like me. This breakfast is going to require a bit more cooking, but if you’re up for the task, then I promise it won’t disappoint.
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 cup of chopped broccoli
- 1/4 cup of chopped tomatoes
- 1 serving of low-fat cheese
- Prep your omelet with three eggs, egg whites, or a blend of the two — go with whatever you prefer. Then, mix the vegetables of your choice in, I prefer broccoli and tomatoes. Once the omelet is nearly finished, add one serving of cheese for additional flavor.
- Before your omelet is fully prepped, I’d suggest exploring what sides and add-ons you’d prefer. Think about your macro hierarchy and plan accordingly to round out your meal.
When building protein-packed breakfasts, I’d highly suggest using a hierarchy to help intuitively build meals that you like and that fit into your goals. Breakfasts can be as simple or as complex as you want and there are a variety of protein-packed options out there for everyone!