What Do Pro Triathletes Eat for Breakfast?

If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, who better to consult for morning nosh suggestions than a pod of professional triathletes?

My fellow athletes and I depend on breakfast to power us through endurance events that take between a few hours and the better part of a day to complete. As you might imagine, there is zero room for a sluggish start to the day in these situations. Fueling mistakes can definitely hinder our ability to "bring home the bacon."

It would be impossible to prepare for, much less compete in, a race such as a triathlon without proper fueling. To give you an idea of what types of breakfasts can sustain for the long haul, I asked 10 of the world's best long distance triathletes what is served at their morning training table.

More: Eat Like a Pro Endurance Athlete

Race Day Breakfasts

Although athletes do take in additional calories during long-distance races, it is impossible to absorb race nutrition quickly enough to balance what is being lost. Thus, breakfast serves as the nutritional cornerstone.

Unsurprisingly, pre-race favorites include foods that are both carbohydrate-rich and easily digested. About half of respondents reported choosing a gluten-free breakfast race morning. Toast (sometimes gluten free) with nut butter and honey was the most common response, closely followed by oats or granola.

More: Top 10 Superfoods for Endurance Athletes

I personally travel with squeeze packs of Justin's nut butter and honey, which I use to smother whatever unsuspecting gluten-laden English muffin I can get my hands on.

Here are some other race day breakfast picks:

  • Luke McKenzie, 6-time Ironman champ and 2nd place Kona finisher: Gluten-free pancakes and syrup.
  • Jesse Thomas, 3-time Wildflower champ: Peanut butter and jelly rice cakes, bowl of Gorilla Munch with almond milk, and a Picky Bar. (All gluten-free choices).
  • Linsey Corbin, 3-time Ironman champion: Peanut butter and honey on toast, yogurt and granola.
  • Caroline Gregory, pro triathlete and elite runner: Gluten-free oats and almond butter, Clif Espresso gel, coffee.
  • Chris McDonald, 6-time Ironman champ and Australia native: Bowl of Aussie Crunch, bonk breaker, nutella.
  • Beth Walsh, Ironman Wisconsin runner-up and run specialist: 2 or 3 slices of Rudi's gluten-free cinnamon raisin toast with peanut butter, MRM Hydration Factor for hydration.
  • Bree Wee, Ironman Champion and Kona local: Nut butter on toast or pancakes.
  • Keith Busko, 70.3 age-group champion and first-year pro: Fit Food by Jess Bars or Pop Tarts and toast with almond butter (and lots of coffee).
  • Charisa Wernick, Ironman runner-up: Rice cereal and a banana.
  • Magali Tisseyre, 11-time 70.3 champion: Muffins, banana, and coffee.

Even on so-called "normal" days, the morning often includes the day's key training session, which can last for several hours. Being well-fueled from breakfast is especially critical to nailing these sessions.

When polled about their typical morning breakfast, most athletes paid homage to the "nothing new on race day" mantra. Often, a race day's breakfast is very similar (if not identical) to what they eat on a normal morning. However, a little flexibility is necessary—before a 2nd place finish at Ironman Japan, Wee slathered nut butter on rice because "there was no bread on the tiny island."

More: Breakfast and Recovery Strategies for Swimmers

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