Tara Gidus

Breakfast: The Meal of runDisney Champions

There are tons of excuses: you don't like breakfast food, you aren't hungry in the morning, or you just don't have time. Be aware that finding reasons to skip breakfast can hinder your running performance in a serious way. The food choices you make throughout the day provide you with the fuel you need for your busy day and your workout. Choosing to skip a crucial meal—like breakfast—will only set you back.

  1. Benefits of Breakfast: While skipping a morning meal may lead to a couple hundred fewer calories consumed in a day, it more often leads to snacking on unhealthy, sugary foods later in the day to make up for a lack of energy.
    • Research consistently shows that breakfast eaters are leaner and healthier.
    • Breakfast keeps blood glucose levels in check, crushes late-afternoon cravings, and encourages healthier eating choices throughout the rest of your day.
    • As runners, the importance of breakfast is magnified. Without fueling properly from the start of your day, you will not be able to achieve optimal performance during your runDisney training.
    • Most importantly, runners need to make the right breakfast choices to ensure they are getting all of the proper nutrients—and eating a meal of champions.

  2. Early-Morning Runners: Running right after waking up? It isn't feasible for most to consume a 500-calorie breakfast and head out for a run immediately afterwards. However, running on an empty stomach is like a car running on fumes—your legs will feel heavy, your head will hurt, and you will struggle to hit your pace goals.
    • If you are an early-morning runner, aim to consume about 100-300 calories of food before heading out.
    • Your choice should provide a source of carbohydrates for energy as well as a small dose of healthy protein.
    • Options include: whole wheat waffle or toast with nut butter, a few handfuls of trail mix or granola, a small fruit smoothie, berries in Greek yogurt, cereal, or a small energy bar.
    • Follow up your workout with carbs and protein to refuel your working muscles—good options are smoothies, eggs and toast, and fruit and cottage cheese.

  3. Evening/Late-Night Runners: If you aren't running until post-lunchtime hours, you can eat a much heartier breakfast. Trying to get by on a skimpy breakfast and a salad at lunch will leave you feeling exhausted during your run, making it even harder to get through your workout.
    • Aim to consume a breakfast that is high-carbohydrate, contains quality protein, and provides a healthy fat—around 400-500 calories.
    • Options include: 2 eggs on whole-wheat toast with a glass of orange juice. Greek yogurt, chia seeds/nuts, and fresh berries. Steel-cut oats, a spoonful of peanut butter, and banana slices.
    • Start your day with breakfast… it is the meal of runDisney champions after all! Questions or comments tweet me @DietDivaTara. For more nutrition tips for your runDisney training, click here.

Known as the "Diet Diva," Tara Gidus Collingwood is a nationally acclaimed nutrition expert and the official nutritionist of runDisney.