For normal people, breakfast may be optional. But for Olympians, this morning meal is no joke. While we’re asleep, our bodies are fasting so in the overnight hours, muscle tissue is breaking down, our brain and cells are starved of energy and our bodies are deprived of fluids. Come morning, star athletes need to stoke muscle protein synthesis (rebuilding muscle tissue), awaken cells with much-needed energy, and replenish their fluid status to optimize performance. Below is a peek at what Olympians told NBC News what they eat for breakfast.
Eggs, Eggs, And More Eggs
Many of our Olympic stars, like bobsledder Aja Evans, pack their mornings with protein filled eggs. Evans goes the extra mile by mixing in tomatoes, green peppers and onions — veggies that provide valuable nutrition. For athletes or the average Jane or Joe who need some carbs to start their day, a side of berries or sweet potato hash could provide the right kind of energy.
Women’s hockey player Alex Rigsby is an oatmeal eater. She pairs hers with yogurt for the one-two punch of carbohydrate and protein. Rigsby also includes a ‘green drink,’ which she describes as a bunch of different greens mixed with some ginger and turmeric.
17-year-old Olympic darling Chloe Kim is a fan of cereal: Cinnamon Toast Crunch to be exact. Though it’s hard to argue with her gold medal run, from a nutritional standpoint, she could step it up a notch. The cereal contains 9 grams of added sugar — more than two teaspoons’ worth.
One thing Olympic athletes have in common is a passion for peanut butter. This fan favorite has eight grams of plant-based protein to help aid muscle growth and recovery. Peanuts and peanut butter also provide a nice nutrient package, including magnesium, copper, vitamin E and manganese. That’s why so many of our team USA athletes wake up with this delicious pantry staple. Speed skater Brittany Bowe adds a big scoop of peanut butter, along with a banana, to her chocolate USANA Nutrimeal shake. Cross country skier Sadie Bjornsen enjoys hers mixed with oatmeal, yogurt, apple slices, nuts, raisins and honey — a balanced bowl to fuel her intense activity. American luger Erin Hamlin is also a fan of oatmeal with peanut butter and fruit. Peanut butter has eight grams of plant-based protein to help aid muscle growth and recovery.
File this under athletes are just like us: Nearly all of our team USA Olympic athletes include coffee as part of their morning routine. From Boblsedder Aja Evans to snowboarder Kelly Clark (who’s a self-proclaimed coffee snob) to our bronze medal-winning ice dancer, Maia Shibutani, our star athletes rely on coffee to get them going in the morning. The fact that caffeine improves athletic performance is almost universally accepted, and a recent study found that you can still chug it every day and get those perks.
Olympic athletes know a superfood when they see it. Avocados contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, fiber, and 20 vitamins and minerals. Plus, avocados are just plain delicious. It’s no wonder that so many athletes add them to their morning meals. Do as Nordic skier Bryan Fletcher does and top whole wheat toast with avocado, eggs over easy and Sriacha sauce or add them to a scramble like alpine skiier Lindsey Vonn.