I need breakfast each day to jumpstart my energy and get my brain going. Though not everyone agrees on the importance of breakfast, I’m not a whole, functional, or friendly (hangry, anyone?) human being without my morning “eats.” But everyone’s body is different, and what feels healthy for somebody may not be the right solution for someone else. In my case, I need protein every morning to feel full and raring to go.
I’ve often wondered what fitness experts out there consume to stay fit — which foods/drinks align with their individual body types, fitness regimens, and health conditions. After all, personal trainers don’t maintain their strength, power, and muscle tone by downing a whole pizza every night and then working it off the next morning. And they certainly don’t start each morning with a chunky piece of chocolate cake.
Health doesn’t involve just one aspect. It’s holistic because everything is connected.
Trainers are not only disciplined and skilled in the art of exercise but also in how they approach nutrition. If you’ve ever worked closely with a trainer, they probably helped you formulate a diet plan specific to you and your fitness goals.
If, like me, you’re curious about what trainers eat for breakfast and why, or you want ideas for a healthier start to your day, read on to learn from a few established trainers I interviewed.
Janis says . . .
My breakfast is usually a smoothie. Boring, I know, but it helps me get some hydration in the morning, along with some protein. I usually add hemp to it. I am a vegetarian, and my food can be erratic throughout the day depending on my client load, so I like to just supplement in the morning as an insurance policy.
Kate says . . .
For breakfast, I usually eat eggs or lean smoked salmon, greens like spinach or kale, and brown rice cakes — also maybe some fruit.
I try to keep my lean protein high and my sugars low in the morning (to help with sleep). For each major meal, I try to focus on three major components: greens, grains, and protein.
Marty says . . .
Here’s the breakfast I eat on a typical day:
- Granola (only about 1/4 to 1/2 cup) with fresh berries and 2% milk
- Banana (if no smoothie)
- Orange juice or a smoothie (smoothie would include OJ, kale, banana, plain Greek non-fat yogurt, and some combination of frozen fruit, such as berries, mango, cherries, pineapple, etc.)
Most of these foods will come from the healthier end of the spectrum for each food. For example, I picked the granola I eat because I compared the ingredients and nutrition labels of the various brands sold where I shop, and it has the lowest or almost the lowest sugar content.
I view (and teach about) food the same way I do with exercise: If you like the healthy food you choose, you’ll eat it; if not, you won’t.
Marty Beene is the owner of Be The Runner in Alameda, CA — a personal training and personalized running coaching business — and is a certified personal trainer who specializes in corrective exercise, fitness nutrition, and senior fitness.
Jaime says . . .
Here are my three personal rules for eating:
- Give my body what it needs when it needs it.
- Choose natural; avoid processed.
- Test variety not only in the foods i’m eating, but also in my eating schedule. (For example, I recently incorporated some intermittent fasting.)
What I eat for breakfast, post-workout:
- Dave’s Killer Bread
- Organic spinach
- Organic cheese
- Organic free-range eggs
I eat the way I do because it fuels my body. It is all about fueling the body and giving it what it needs to do its job right. To feel good. To heal. And to be energized. I believe it, and I live it.
I also believe that nutrition for the general public has become so confusing, which is the main reason I started my “Would Jaime Eat It” video blog. In each video, I focus on one product or food and give my take on its “bad,” its “good,” and a personal verdict as to whether or not I would eat it.
Jaime Rothermich is a personal trainer and registered dietitian with Functional Elements Training and Nutrition in St. Louis, MO.
Lynda says . . .
I practice intermittent fasting, so I only eat in an eight-hour window of my day. Because I tend to eat later at night (dinner around 8:30 and maybe a snack after), I don’t usually eat anything until around 2pm. This 16-hour fasting window gives my body a chance to fully digest and process what I ate the day before.
It also lends itself to less snacking because when I eat, I eat larger meals to make sure I get all of the necessary calories and nutrition.
So many trainers work out too much and eat too little, which leaves them depleted. I want my clients to always have me at my best!
When I wake up around 5:15am, I have two cups of coffee with a little half-and-half, collagen, and a monk fruit sweetener. I also mix BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) into my morning water to help my muscles repair from workouts. (I use Gnarly Nutrition BCAAs in Fruit Punch or Berry Lemonade flavor.)
I try to work out during this fasting window, which allows me to actually burn some fat and not just burn through my glycogen stores.
Lynda Lippin is a master pilates teacher and personal trainer in Tribeca, NYC. She also travels uptown to see in-home clients.
NOTE: These responses have been edited for clarity.
Lauren Smith is the Managing Editor of Exercise.com. She is passionate about nutrition and holistic health (how the body, mind, and emotions intersect). She lives in Baltimore City, where she writes stuff, plays music, embarks on long power walks through the park, takes contemporary dance lessons, and enjoys healthy, flavorful cuisine.