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Quick Bites: The Most Important Meal of the Day

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Professional Climber Emily Harrington’s Quinoa Breakfast Mix

• 1/2  cup cooked quinoa

• 1/2 cup plain unsweetened kefir

• Raspberries (or any berry)

• Nuts and dried fruits (cashews, almonds, coconut, whatever is available)

• Couple of spoonfuls of nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew)

It’s the most important meal of the day, blah, blah, blah, we’ve heard it all a thousand times — but, seriously, what you eat for breakfast has an enormous impact on your energy and ability to improve when performing your activity of choice throughout the day.

“You have this amazing body that you value so much, and it is really only asking a few things of you,” Shavawn Forester, a local nutrition scientist and registered dietitian nutritionist, said. “By not giving it nutrition [breakfast], you are forcing it to work harder and that’s just not nice.”

Forester compared the importance of eating breakfast to being thirsty and there being an easily accessible glass of water on the counter. “You don’t have to work hard to get it [the water], because it is already right there,” she said. In other words, when you don’t eat breakfast your muscles are forced to work harder to access previously stored energy, and if you have just eaten breakfast that energy is already right there and accessible. Makes sense, right?

To prove that breakfast really is the most important meal of the day we asked Forester and local professional athletes Michelle Parker and JT Holmes what they eat (or would suggest eating) for breakfast before a day of strenuous activity. Here’s how they answered the below questions:

1. In a perfect world, what would you eat for breakfast before a big day?

2. What is your preferred grab-and-go breakfast that isn’t too time or labor intensive?

3. What is your breakfast guilty pleasure?

4. Coffee, yes or no?

5. Do you carry snacks for throughout the day? If so, what are they?

~ Ally Gravina/Moonshine Ink

Michelle Parker, professional skier

1. My typical breakfast before a big day would be a smoothie and maybe some avocado toast.

2. Grab-and-go breakfast is a bowl of cereal with banana, blueberries, and raspberries in it. Not really a go-breakfast, but it would do and I would scarf it down pretty quickly. Or, I would likely grab a breakfast burrito from a coffee shop or something easy to eat in the car.

3. Breakfast guilty pleasure — easy — a ham-and-cheese croissant from Tahoe House.

4. Yes, coffee with a little hemp milk, and Hanah One. [Hanah One is a daily superfood that was developed following ancient Ayurvedic (the study of life) principles.]

5. Carrots, some kind of trail mix, cliff blocks or gummies of some sort, cheese, salami, really whatever I have in the snack department at home. I’m not super picky as I don’t eat a ton while I’m out there.

JT Holmes, professional skier

1. I eat eggs for breakfast. I have this technique where I fry cheese in the pan and then fry the egg on top. It is really great.  

2. String cheese and an apple.

3. French Toast.

4. Yes.

5. I don’t.

Shavawn M. Forester. Ph.D., RD  

1. It would have to have at least 20 grams of protein, carbs from whole foods, and some type of plant-based fat like seeds or avocado.

2. Greek yogurt with mixed berries, pumpkin seeds, and chia seeds.

3. Biscuits and gravy, but, instead of biscuits, I make potatoes and spinach in the oven and eat that with gravy. I am not missing the biscuit, and anything you can do to make your meal whole, I do it. I want to treat my body right, so I will forgo biscuits.

4. Hell, ya! I am drinking it right now. There is a lot of research that suggests no more than three cups of coffee a day improves physical performance.

5. Fruit, and an electrolyte/glucose supplement. If I am going for a long time I will bring a supplement that also has amino acid as it helps maintain your muscles. A fruit, like apple or dried apple rings, provides a simple carb that is easily digested. I am not a big fan of nuts for hiking because they are harder to break down. Nuts are best saved for after exercising.

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July 12, 2018