I'm a morning exerciser. Sometimes it's hard to set my alarm for an early wake-up (and not hit snooze when it goes off). But I work out because I love the way it makes me feel—stronger, faster, healthier, less stressed, the list goes on. Regular exercise does more than help you lose and maintain your weight. It also helps keep your brain sharp. And, studies indicate that people who regularly exercise live longer. Since I want to get the most out of each workout I eat breakfast after my workout.
If you hold off on breakfast until after your workout, you'll likely burn more fat. A small 2015 study published in EBioMedicine found that exercising pre-breakfast helped men burn about 250 more fat calories per day, compared to when they did the same workout post-lunch or post-dinner. Plus, other research found people who fueled up with a high-calorie breakfast before the gym gained weight (and body fat), while those who ate the same breakfast after their workout maintained their weight.
Just because you got up early to burn some calories doesn't give you carte blanche to hit the doughnut shop and undo all the benefits of your workout. Look for a mix of protein, whole grains and fruits or vegetables to help fill you up and refuel your muscles. Here are some ideas for a healthy post-workout breakfast.
Muffin-Tin Quiches with Smoked Cheddar & Potato: Two of these muffin-sized quiches deliver 238 calories and 14 grams of protein. Add a piece of fruit for a little more staying power. Make these over the weekend to have ready on busy weekday mornings.
Raspberry-Peach-Mango Smoothie Bowl: With 374 calories and 24 grams of protein, this smoothie bowl helps you replenish your muscles post-workout. Greek yogurt adds protein, and fruit helps add 8 grams of filling fiber. It's super-satisfying digging into this refreshing bowl after a sweaty workout.
Peanut Butter & Chia Berry Jam English Muffin: Peanut butter on an English muffin with fruit is pretty much my go-to breakfast—it's quick and easy and has protein, healthy fats, fiber and whole grains. Mashing the berries with chia seeds into a jam is a fun twist on an old favorite. This version has 262 calories and 10 grams of protein.
Seeded Whole-Grain Quick Bread: This homemade bread is loaded with sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flaxseed and sesame seeds, which add healthy fats, fiber and protein (as well as some seriously satisfying crunch). One thick slice has 340 calories and 10 grams of protein. I love adding nut butter or mashed avocado on top, or drinking a latte on the side, for a filling breakfast.
Pre-Workout Snack: If you can't wait until after your workout to eat, grab a small carbohydrate-rich snack, such as a small handful of dried fruit, half a banana or half an English muffin with a little jam.