Looking for healthy breakfast ideas for teenage athletes?
We hear all the time that “breakfast is the most important meal.” And for your teenage athlete, that may be true. But, it can also be the most challenging meal to get in your kids — especially active teens.
Let’s take a quick look at why eating a healthy breakfast is key for active kids, the best foods to include, and how to overcome common breakfast obstacles.
The best part… I’m going to leave you with a bunch of simple, healthy breakfast ideas for teenage athletes. These tips and recipes will bring breakfast back into your kitchen this week, and for many more to come.
The importance of a healthy breakfast for teenage athletes
I remember being told when I was young, that eating breakfast will result in better focus and concentration in school, higher test scores, more energy, and a healthier body weight. Sure, much of this is probably true for growing and developing kids, but there’s more to the story.
The word “breakfast” literally means to break the fast — the fast while you are sleeping. If you are an adult practicing intermittent fasting, you may not be ready to break your fast at 6:00 AM. Giving your body a prolonged phase of rest can have many physiological benefits.
BUT, for growing, developing, and active children and teens…it is time to break the fast! Breakfast is an opportunity to start fueling for the whole day ahead.
Athletes need energy and nutrients
Athletes have physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding days to manage. For the body, mind, and spirit to keep up, teens need adequate energy along with the right vitamins and minerals to help the body use it.
Being prepared for class, practice, and competition requires proper nutrition, and so does the recovery and repair that follows. Taking advantage of each meal, including breakfast, is necessary for overall athletic performance.
Set the day up right
Breakfast is the best time to set the day up right. When breakfast is missed, incomplete, or full of nutrient-void calories, it leaves athletes scrambling to catch up — often never able to make up for such a deficit.
Without a nutritious breakfast, kids and teens are also more likely to crave processed junk foods once hunger hits.
What makes a healthy breakfast?
A healthy breakfast for teens is like any other nutritious meal. We are looking for a balance of macronutrients, color, and real food ingredients.
Real food (not processed and packaged)
Incorporating real food for kids into breakfast may take the biggest shift compared to lunch or dinner. The majority of people, especially children, turn to bagels and cereal as their go-to.
I’m asking you to think outside the (cereal) box.
Have you ever seen a bagel tree? Or gone on a Cheerio hunt? Me neither! They are fairly processed products, rich in carbohydrates, and fortified with single vitamins and minerals to make up for all the nutrition that’s been stripped away during processing.
Granted, some products don’t look entirely like their original source but are minimally processed, such as chicken sausage links. With quality brands, we can still recognize all the ingredients as real food.
I’m not concerned that each breakfast target all “food groups”, but it should contain real foods that provide fat, carbohydrates, and protein.
Start the day with protein
If I were to pick one macronutrient that is most commonly low at breakfast time, it would be protein. Protein is especially beneficial for teenage athletes who are breaking down and rebuilding tissues at rapid rates, let alone still growing and developing outside of sport.
Beyond its tissue-building benefits, protein is important for slowing the absorption of carbohydrate (or sugar) and thus balancing blood sugar. It is also the most satiating macronutrient.
But, the most common breakfast foods (pastries, cereals, toast with jam) are low in protein, or at least the most bioavailable real food sources.
Pick your protein first when planning breakfast to make sure your athlete’s diet isn’t lacking.
- Beef (in a hash)
- Poultry (sausage)
- Fish (salmon lox)
- Yogurt (choose no sugar added and whole fat)
- Nuts and seeds (also a good source of fat)
Tips for overcoming common breakfast obstacles
“I’m not hungry.”
“I don’t have time.”
“There’s nothing good to eat.”
These are the most common reasons I hear for either skipping breakfast, or not putting together a well-balanced first meal.
Set a precedent and prioritize
Eating breakfast is what we do! Make this your new family slogan if you have active kids — now is the time to start implementing such a standard even if your active kids are still very young.
Along with establishing this norm, comes making it a priority.
- Get up fifteen minutes earlier.
- Have real ingredients on hand.
- Make time to put together a nourishing, high protein meal .
This will help your teen athlete’s day start on the right foot.
Keep it simple
Healthy food doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated — in fact, keeping it simple is best.
Do you have a source of protein? Now add some veggies or a piece of fruit, some sliced avocado or uncured low-sugar bacon, and maybe ½ a leftover potato — BAM!
Another great source of protein for kids is chia seeds.
Make a plan
Always plan ahead — know what breakfast will be for the week, the next few days, or at least the morning to come!
Any advance food prep, such as dicing peppers and onions, cracking eggs, or making overnight chia pudding, means your morning will be a breeze.
Setting aside leftovers that can be incorporated into breakfast is smart as well. Hash, anyone?
5 Simple breakfast ideas
Here are a handful of simple, high protein, real food breakfast ideas to get yourself and your family to embrace the breakfast ritual.
1. Grain-free pancakes and sausage
Who knew that a banana, scoop of nut (or seed butter), and an egg could create such a yummy pancake batter? This basic Banana Almond Pancake recipe is a weekly go-to in our house, served alongside chicken sausage.
2. Breakfast tacos
This is one of my favorite healthy breakfast ideas for teenage athletes. Everyone loves tacos!
Scrambled eggs with diced peppers and onions, topped with avocado and salsa, pulls together in a snap. Serve with grain-free Siete Foods, or non-GMO corn tortillas and a side of berries.
3. Leftover hash
Saute up leftover diced chicken, steak, or eggs along with sweet potato from last night’s dinner. Cook it in butter, ghee, or coconut oil, and add a handful of spinach, broccoli, or diced apple!
Quick, simple, and DELICIOUS!
4. Fried eggs, fruit and greens
It only takes five minutes to fry a couple of eggs in butter or coconut oil. Serve them over a bed of kale, spinach, or arugula, and grab an orange to go along.
5. Parfait (oat, chia, yogurt)
Overnight or baked oats, chia pudding, and plain whole fat yogurt all convert into healthy parfaits that can be made ahead. Pair with a hard-boiled egg, and you’re out the door.
10 Healthy breakfast recipes
Check out these recipes for more ideas to help you make a healthy breakfast a part of your day.
1. Fruity nut cereal
The nuts, seeds, and coconut flakes, topped with milk (of your choice) and fresh berries in this Fruity Nut Cereal will satisfy any cravings for “breakfast in a box.” (Egg free and can be made dairy free)
2. Chia pudding
Creamy, filling, and easy to make ahead, Raspberry Almond Chia Pudding is a great egg free, dairy free, grab-n-go breakfast. Serve alongside chicken sausage.
3. Apple cinnamon pancakes
This Apple Cinnamon Pancake recipe is a spin-off of the banana almond pancakes. These pancakes offer healthy fats, real fruit, and protein — especially if you pair them with some nitrate/nitrite all-natural breakfast ham. (Can be made dairy-free and nut-free)
4. Pumpkin smoothie bowl
Pumpkin is a nutrient dense source of starchy carbohydrate for busy athletes, and this Pumpkin Smoothie Bowl is a great way to incorporate it into a delicious and refreshing breakfast. (Egg free, dairy free)
5. Sweet potato toasts
Who doesn’t love a good fancy toast? Substituting the bread for thinly sliced sweet potato keeps it real and full of good nutrition. Top your toast with a fried egg to upgrade the protein.
6. Blueberry yogurt parfait
Yogurt is always a great grab-n-go option. Choose full fat, all-natural dairy or coconut options. There are more and more grain-free granolas out there, or make a batch of your own to sprinkle alongside of fresh berries in this yogurt parfait. (Egg free, can be dairy free)
Frittatas are perfect for making on the weekend to heat up, or eat cold, during the week. This Clean Out the Fridge Frittata is also a great way to add a serving of veggies to your breakfast. (Nut free, can be dairy free)
8. Breakfast tacos
These Breakfast Tacos are always a favorite in our home. I like to use organic deli ham as my taco shell, but my active boys add a grain-free, or corn tortilla to the outside as well.
9. Lemon blueberry muffins
Sometimes you just want a muffin! These gluten-free muffins with fresh lemon, chia seeds, and blueberries will satisfy your cravings. Pair them with a couple of pre-cooked hard-boiled eggs, and you’re off with a nutritious start.
10. Chia seed oatmeal
As an athlete, I ate my share of oats. But this Chia Seed Oatmeal recipe adds extra plant-based protein, fiber, and healthy fats to balance out the rich carbohydrate levels. Pair with scrambled eggs.
Next steps: Using These Healthy Breakfast Ideas for Teenage Athletes
It’s important to “break the fast” for the extra demands a teenage athlete faces. Setting the day up right with a nourishing meal sets a precedent for all the healthy meals to follow and keeps active kids on the road to peak performance.
Get up a few minutes earlier to make breakfast a top priority in your house, keep this real food meal simple, and plan ahead so you can attack the kitchen with confidence.
You can also find more healthy breakfast ideas in my Weekly Paleo Meal Plan.
Choose two or three breakfast ideas for teenage athletes listed above and have fun adding them into your week ahead. It may just be the most important part of your teenage athlete’s day!