Learn to pick the right cereals to give you the proper nutrients and energy you need as an athlete.
Mornings are hard, especially when you’re not a morning person. Getting in a nutritious breakfast is even harder when you’re rushing around. But we all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day so what is one to do?
Cereal can be a quick and healthy option and can deliver the proper nutrients and energy that an athlete’s body demands. However, you just have to pick the right one. I’m going to share with you the Sports Dietitian’s top cereal picks for athletes.
What do you want in a cereal for an athlete?
When we’re analyzing cereals for athletes there’s a couple things to keep in mind:
- It’s made with whole grains (must be first ingredient and contain >3g fiber)
- Low in refined sugars (<10g)
- Contains protein (>5g)
- Contains healthy fats
Carbohydrates are your body’s primary source of energy. However, if you’re only eating carbs, your meal is going to be long gone by the time your next meal or snack rolls around. What’s the end result? Hunger, fatigue and sluggishness are what are in store. So you’ll need to combine your nutrients- combine fiber rich whole grains with slow digesting healthy fats and protein. This will help to time release the energy from your food so you stay energized and satisfied. Bonus points if it’s non-GMO!
Top 7 best cereals for athletes:
- Kashi Go Lean- contains a whopping 12 g protein and 13 g fiber! First ingredient is “7 whole grain honey puff cereal”
- Post Great Grains Cereals- one of my favorite tasting cereals because it has a number of “goodies” like dried fruits and nuts! There are a number of flavors from Banana Nut Crunch to Crunchy Pecan (personal fav). These contain >5g fiber, only 8 g sugar and >5 g protein.
- Granola- there are hundreds of granola brands but my personal favorites are Nature’s Path Pumpkin Seed & Flax Granola or Coconut Chia Granola (non-GMO, organic, 6 g protein, 5 g fiber, 10 g healthy fat, 10 g sugar and wheat free!). I also like Bear Naked Granola and if you want to get really crazy I have my own granola I like to make, Olive Oil Granola! It’s super easy and costs way less than buying a box of pre-made granola.
- Overnight oats- not an oatmeal fan? That’s ok, this is basically like cold cereal and you can customize it to whatever your taste buds fancy. Just search for overnight oats on Pinterest and you have a ton of options! Made with whole grain oats that are chock full of filling fiber and protein. Add some chia seeds, shredded coconut, blueberries and milk, stick in the fridge overnight and now you have an awesome, quick cereal!
- Muesli- Muesli is basically like overnight oats but done for you in terms of all the extras like nuts and fruit. You can either soak overnight just like overnight oats or add milk and eat as is! You can also heat up in the microwave if you prefer it warm. A great brand is Bob’s Red Mill.
- Raisin Bran- Raisin Bran is very high in iron (25% Daily Value), which is something athletes sweat out and can easily be deficient in. It only has 9 g added sugars, contains 5 g protein and a whopping 7 g fiber! Kellogg’s even has an Omega 3 version that contains 250 mg Omega 3’s from flaxseeds; a natural anti-inflammatory.
- Kashi Whole Wheat Biscuits, Organic Island Vanilla- non-GMO verified and organic! Contains a filling 6 g fiber and 6 g protein plus it has a delicious vanilla flavor that won’t make you miss the frosting!
No matter if you train in the morning or afternoon, cereal makes a great pre-workout snack as well as breakfast. And yes, even if you’re training early in the morning you still need a pre-workout snack. Just grabbing a handful of dry cereal will do the trick!