Breakfast for Teens on the Go Tips for Athletes

Breakfast for Teens on the Go: Tips for Athletes

Breakfast for Teens on the Go: Tips for Athletes

Starting the day with breakfast is important for teens. However, with busy morning schedules, breakfast is often skipped in the rush to get out the door. Let’s take a look at ideas for planning a healthy breakfast for teens on the go.

Importance of Breakfast for Teens

Consistently eating breakfast positively impacts the overall health and well-being of children and adolescents. In addition to health benefits, regular breakfast consumption is associated with improved cognitive function, memory, grades, and school attendance (1).

For teenage athletes, consuming breakfast is important to refill carbohydrate (glycogen) stores (2). Replenishing these stores in the morning provides teens with the energy needed for the activities of the upcoming day.

Benefits of Breakfast for Teens

Planning a Healthy Breakfast for Teens

When planning a healthy breakfast for teens, aim to include food from at least three food groups. Focus on choosing nutrient-dense, carbohydrate-rich foods as well as foods that provide a lean source of protein (3).

Including Carbohydrates at Breakfast

Carbohydrates provide teen athletes with the energy needed to train and perform at their best. Teens can add carbohydrates to their breakfast with food from the following food groups: grains, fruit, starchy vegetables, and dairy.

Consider the following ideas for carbohydrates to enjoy at breakfast:

  • Whole Grains: Oatmeal, cereal, bread, bagels, English muffins, wraps
  • Fruit: Fresh, dried, frozen
  • Starchy Vegetables: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans
  • Dairy: Milk, yogurt
Carbohydrates at Breakfast

Sources of Lean Protein at Breakfast

Consuming protein is important for teen athletes, as it helps to build and repair lean muscle mass. Athletes are encouraged to spread their protein intake throughout the day with meals and snacks to support their sports nutrition needs (4).

I find many teen athletes tend to eat very little protein at breakfast and need ideas for ways to add protein to their morning meal. Here are some suggestions for ways teens can add protein to their breakfast:

  • Eggs
  • Greek yogurt
  • High-protein milk
  • Cheese, cottage cheese
  • Soy milk, tofu
  • Vegan egg substitutes
  • Nuts, nut butters, beans, and seeds
  • Turkey or chicken sausage
  • Ham, turkey, grilled chicken

Meal Prep for Breakfast

Consider taking time on the weekend to meal prep breakfast items. For example, chop fresh fruit, hard-boil eggs, or package individual servings of dry cereal into containers. Overnight oats are another great breakfast item that can prepped in advance and enjoyed during the week.

To encourage your teen to eat breakfast, make it as easy as possible in the morning for your teen to grab breakfast on the way out the door. Have your teen pack a grab-and-go breakfast the night before. Then place a reminder next to your teen’s car keys or gym bag to grab the breakfast before leaving the house.

Breakfast for Teens on the Go: Tips for Athletes

Breakfast does not have to be a sit-down meal to be beneficial for teens. I often find teens are more successful with adding breakfast to their morning routines if they are equipped with easy ideas for breakfast on the go.

Breakfast Ideas for Teens on the Go

Ideas for a healthy breakfast on the go for teens include:

  • Protein overnight oats
  • Kodiak Cakes® frozen waffles (contain protein) topped with nut butter, banana, low-fat milk
  • Greek yogurt parfait with frozen berries and granola
  • Bagel, nut butter, honey, banana slices
  • Instant oatmeal with walnuts, blueberries, high-protein milk
  • Hard-boiled eggs, toasted English muffin with sliced avocado, 100% fruit juice
  • Breakfast bars, string cheese, grapes, low-fat milk
  • Cottage cheese with pineapple, granola bars, 100% fruit juice
  • Fruit smoothie
Breakfast for Teens on the Go

Fruit Smoothie

A fruit smoothie in the morning can be a nutritious way for your teen to start the day.  When preparing the smoothie, blend in a variety of frozen fruits and banana slices, as well as a handful of spinach.

There are numerous ways to add protein to a fruit smoothie, such as Greek yogurt, high-protein milk, cottage cheese, or chia seeds. By changing up the types of fruit and other ingredients used in the smoothie, your teen can enjoy a different flavor combination each day of the week.

Non-Traditional Breakfast for Teens

If your teen is not a fan of traditional breakfast foods, there is nothing wrong with choosing foods typically enjoyed at other times of the day. Ideas for non-traditional breakfasts include:

  • Burrito bowl with brown rice, black beans, and lean chicken or beef fajita meat
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
  • Chicken quesadilla on whole wheat tortillas
  • Turkey, avocado, spinach, and cheese wrap
  • Pasta with turkey meatballs
  • English muffin pizza with turkey pepperoni or ham and veggies

Enjoying these items with a glass of milk and side of fresh fruit makes for a nutritious breakfast your teen can start the day with.

Non-Traditional Brekafast Ideas

Healthy Breakfast for Teens: Dining Out

Equipping teens with healthy breakfast choices when dining out is important. General tips for making nutritious choices when eating breakfast at a restaurant include:

  • Choose lean protein sources: Eggs, ham, and chicken are leaner options than bacon or sausage made with pork.
  • Focus on carbohydrates: English muffins, bagels, or hamburger buns are all good choices that contain less saturated fat than a biscuit or croissant.
  • Hydrate: Choose low-fat milk or 100% fruit juice.
  • Healthy sides: Fruit, yogurt parfaits, and roasted breakfast potatoes are all great options for sides at breakfast.

Ready to Prepare a Healthy Breakfast for Teens

You are now set with a variety of ideas for creating a healthy breakfast for teens. Remember, it does not have to be a complex, sit-down meal to meet your teens sports nutrition needs. Focus on preparing easy meals that contain a good source of carbohydrates and lean protein that your teen will eat and enjoy!

For additional sports nutrition tips for teen athletes, check out my blog: Nutrition Tips for Afterschool Sports.

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About the Author

Mandy is a Sports Dietitian Nutritionist in the San Antonio, TX area. She is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, a Licensed Athletic Trainer, and is a Certified Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine.  Mandy believes the key to reaching one’s full potential, both in everyday life and in sports performance, relies on a healthy nutritional foundation. Learn more about the work Mandy does here.

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