Alongside pre- and post-workout or competition meals, breakfast is arguably the most vital meal of the day for teen athletes. A healthy breakfast for a teen athlete should have between 500 and 750 calories and include about 50 percent carbs, 30 percent protein and 20 percent fat, according to Jen Ochi of the Cleveland Clinic. Aim to meet this guideline as closely as possible, with a variety of healthy breakfast dishes.
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Oats are a high-fiber, versatile carb source. The University College of San Diego Athletic Department lists them as their number one complex carbohydrate for athletes. Additionally, dietitian and sports nutritionist Marni Sumbal of USA Triathlon recommends plain oatmeal and adding flax seeds, nuts, honey, protein powder, dried cranberries or raisins, Greek yogurt or fresh fruit to oats to increase its taste, calories and nutritional value.
Punching Up Protein
Consider eggs as a way to get your morning protein. Like oats, eggs are extremely versatile. If you want to keep things simple, boil a few eggs at night and eat them cold in the morning, with a side of toast, or chopped and put into a tortilla, along with salad. For a Mexican-inspired breakfast, keep the tortilla, but scramble the eggs with peppers and onion, and then mix them with guacamole and salsa. Eggs mixed with turkey, spinach, peppers and cheese and served alongside whole-wheat pancakes are good, recommends shot putter and power lifter Chad Wesley Smith.
Consider dairy as an alternative protein source for your mornings. Yogurt, cottage cheese or quark cheese are good choices, as is a dairy-based protein shake like whey or casein if you're in a rush. You still need to get your carbs, too, so make a fruit salad with strawberries, mango, pineapple and grapes and pour yogurt over the top. Or, mix blueberries, dry oatmeal and walnuts into cottage cheese. For high-carb protein shakes, try blitzing your protein powder with a banana, some dates or dried figs and almond or rice milk.
Grab and Go
While the 500 to 750 calorie guideline is a good bet for most teen athletes, if you have less than two hours between breakfast and training, you might want something a little lighter. Try a small snack containing 100 to 150 calories, instead, suggests dietitian Nancy Clark. A few rice cakes with peanut butter or a cereal bar would fit the bill. Depending on your goals, you may also want to shoot for less than 500 calories, if you need to drop weight for an upcoming contest, or even go higher than 750 if you're gaining mass in the off-season.