October is Sports Nutrition rolls on with some creative breakfast ideas from St. Louis-based registered dietitian Jennifer McDaniel:
MomsTEAM:What do recommend sports-active kids eat for breakfast?
McDaniel: Breakfast is a must for optimal performance on the field and in the classroom. Eating breakfast scores big, but eating high-quality breakfast foods wins the game. Research shows that kids who choose filling, fiber-rich breakfast foods perform better in the classroom compared to those who eat higher sugar breakfast foods like sugar-coated cereal. My A+ formula for breakfast is Protein + Fiber-Rich Food + Fruit, which ensures a mix of carbohydrates (necessary for brain & muscle energy) and protein (important for muscle growth after a long night's sleep).
Here are some A+ breakfast ideas:
- The Banana Dog: Peanut butter on a whole-wheat hot dog bun with a banana sandwiched inside.
- The Greek Parfait: Greek yogurt + Whole Grain Cereal + Berries
- The Smart Smoothie: Milk/Yogurt + Flaxseed + Mixed Fruit
- The Protein Pita: Egg & Cheese + Whole Wheat Pita + Sliced apple on the side
- The Better Bowl: Soy/milk + Oatmeal + Dried fruit
MomsTEAM: What are your top five foods for sports nutrition?
McDaniel: My clients learn to build their plates by color. A prized plate contains at least 3 different colors and ensures that a variety of nutrients are on board for optional health and performance. There are no "perfect" foods, but there are foods that I tend to make sure my clients include in their weekly eating plans for peak performance.
- Greek yogurt: Research tells us that it is not only important to eat protein, but important to eat it at all 3 meals and possibly snacks. Greek yogurt is not only a substantive source of protein, but also contains energy boosting carbs, and important nutrients for growing athletes such as calcium, potassium and vitamin D. It is a convenient way for athletes to boost their protein intake and can be eaten at anytime of the day.
- Fish, particularly fatty fish like salmon. Fish contains the most concentrated source of omega-3 fatty acids and is also a rich source of protein. Most kids don't get enough protective omega-3's, which can help reduce inflammation and soreness, boost brain health, and guard our hearts. If noses are turned down to salmon, offer it up in different ways, such as a spread like tuna fish versus a cooked whole fish.
- Oatmeal: Rolled oats or steel cut oats offer long-lasting carbohydrates and is a heart-warming start to the day. Oatmeal serves as the perfect platform for other healthy ingredients, such as canned pumpkin, milk, dried/fresh fruit, flaxseed, and the list continues. Get creative with this breakfast beauty.
- Greens: Greens such as spinach contain nitrates which research has found powers the muscles and expands blood flow, resulting in increased muscle strength. The dark green color in spinach demonstrates its rich nutrient profile, and spinach is a good source of iron, vital for an athlete's energy. Include a vitamin C-rich food with spinach to enhance iron's absorption. Swap in spinach for other leafy greens, or add it to omelets or pasta dishes.
- Nuts: Nuts are the perfect after-school snack to stave of hunger due to their plant-based proteins, healthy fats, and fiber. Don't get caught up in which nut is best, but include a variety to benefit from their unique nutritional resume. Combine with dried fruit for additional carbs and flavor.
MomsTEAM: What is a quick and easy dinner to make for a family meal after an afternoon practice or game?
McDaniel: Bust out that crockpot!! Crockpots/slow cookers is the answered prayer for busy families. Buy a slow cooker cookbook and let your family take turns in picking out new recipes to try. An involved athlete in the kitchen is an empowered eater and will most likely be open to try new and healthy foods.
Jennifer McDaniel, MS, RD, CSSD, LD is a Registered Dietitian (RD), Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD), and national media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She is founder and owner of Saint Louis-based private practice, McDaniel Nutrition Therapy, a nutrition consulting company that specializes in weight management, sports nutrition, and corporate wellness.
Facebook: McDaniel Nutrition Therapy