Top 4 Breakfasts to Fuel your Running

sarah cuff Food for Runners 0 Comments

You know that in order to have the energy to run well – whether it be making it to the end of the day still energized to get a good run in after work or your weekend long run first thing in the morning – you need to eat breakfast.

Additionally, research shows that individuals (runners or not) who eat breakfast are leaner and healthier than those that skip it. Why? Possibly because breakfast eaters are less likely to let themselves get so hungry during the first part of the day that they eat too much later in the day. Breakfast sets the tone for your day. Is it going to be a clean-eating day? Sometimes it all comes together or falls apart first thing in the morning.

So with the importance of having breakfast an in-arguable and established fact, let’s get on with what to eat for this first meal of the day!


A good breakfast provides complex carbohydrates for sustained and lasting energy, some simple sugars for immediate and quick energy, some protein and some healthy fat. Here’s my top four options for you:

1. Oatmeal (or Porridge)

I know, shocker, right?!! Okay, maybe not so much. It’s truly a timeless dish… Yes, oatmeal is one of the bestest breaky’s out there. Try Fully Loaded Oatmeal… It’s got all the right proportions of simple and complex carbs, protein and fat. Plus it tastes absolutely delicious. I can say this with confidence as I live with a picky eater who hands down wouldn’t eat oatmeal because he wasn’t going to like it, didn’t ever remember liking it… And then ended up liking Fully Loaded Oatmeal!

Not everyone can eat oats and some just like variety. If you fall into one of these categories, not to worry. Try rice congee (very easy to digest – if you are the runner who says you just cannot eat before running, try rice congee), quinoa porridge, millet porridge or buckwheat porridge.

Because the oats (or other grains) are well cooked, they are easier to digest then my next option. It’s a small but important point to note when deciding what to eat before your long run or race… On race day, you want something that’s easy for your body to digest.

2. Granola

Granola is basically oatmeal that’s been baked. Okay, and with some oil added. It’s actually this second point (added oils) that encourage me to steer clear of all store bought versions. I started eating granola when I wanted a switch from oatmeal and porridges. I guess I’m not the first one. In 1951, Willie Pelzer ‘invented’ granola when experimenting to find a better and more appetizing way of enjoying rolled oats. Granola was popularized in the 1960’s with the hippie movement when fruit and nuts were added to it along with the label of health food.

You could try making a more traditional version of Granola, or switch it up and try Buckwheat Granola.

3. Smoothie

For those of you who think there is just no possible way you could eat breakfast in the morning, don’t worry. You can. Enter, the smoothie! It’s wonderfully easy to digest, no chewing required – just drink and go (or drink as you travel – although for the record I do encourage breakfast to be a sit down and relaxed affair, as much as possible). You can make it light (just fruit) or you can make it fancy and more substantial (add nuts, seeds, greens). Try this Peach Strawberry Smoothie or Green Smoothie.

4. Toast 

Okay, I’ll admit I don’t reach for this one much anymore. But when I started eating breakfast years ago and always felt I simply didn’t have the time for breakfast, toast was easy and fast. I recommend using Ezekiel sprouted grains bread (usually found in freezer section) or looking for bread where the ingredient list is short and sweet. As in 3 or 4 ingredients – 100% whole grain “insert grain (wheat, spelt, rye, brown rice, etc)”, water, sea salt, bacterial culture. If the ingredient list includes sugar or wheat gluten or anything you can’t pronounce, don’t buy. Serve your toast spread with 100% all natural almond butter and a sliced banana. Mmmm, I’ve always loved toast.

Awesome Brunch Foods

Because my top four list left out some of my very favourite breakfast foods, consider this a bonus. I just couldn’t leave them out! I guess you could call them Top 4 Breakfast Foods to Re-Fuel You for Your Next Run. Ha.

These are generally foods you might reach for on a weekend or after your long run:

What’s your fave breakfast food? Right now my absolute favourite breakfast is cranberry buckwheat granola with fresh berries and almond milk (pictured above, yes I drink water with breakfast). Leave a comment below and let me know what your favourite breakfast is!

Happy running 🙂


Sarah J Cuff, RHN

PS. Check out Runner of the Week, a new weekly profile of awesome runners who eat to run! This weeks runner is the fabulous Julie Mitchell – click here to find out why she eats to run…

Comments 0

  1. Hey!
    Love your post… favourite breakfast currently is Banana Porridge, delicious. But if I have to choose, oats or oatmeal…….oatmeal definitely! It’s so tasty and super healthy. Love having a banana too with my breakfast for some natural sugar. Definitely keeps me going until lunch.
    The Granola you have suggested sounds good, I’ll be trying that!
    Take care
    Steph ??

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      Hi Greg… Thanks for this great question! I actually don’t mind Clif bars so much – they are better than many other bars out there!! That said, they are still packaged, processed bars – which probably means more sugar and processed soy than we want to be eating on a regular basis. I pulled up the ingredients, and as you can see below the first ingredient is sugar (brown rice syrup) and the fourth ingredient is also sugar (organic cane syrup), and there’s a lot of soy.

      So, long story short, I don’t see a problem with reaching for Clif bars in a pinch, but there’s likely a better whole foods option out there to make your staple breakfast, whether it be on a daily basis or before long runs!


      ps. Good luck as you train to qualify for Boston!!!

      Organic Brown Rice Syrup, ClifPro® (Soy Rice Crisps [Soy Protein Isolate, Rice Flour, Barley Malt Extract], Organic Soy Flour, Organic Roasted Soybeans), Organic Rolled Oats, Organic Cane Syrup, Organic Peanut Butter (Organic Peanuts, Salt), Peanut Flour, Peanuts, ClifCrunch® (Apple Fiber, Organic Oat Fiber, Inulin [Chicory Extract], Organic Milled Flaxseed, Organic Psyllium), Organic Date Paste, Natural Flavors, Sea Salt.

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  2. Pingback: Top 8 Pre-Run Snacks | Eat 2 Run

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