Eat right before your spin class.

By Joan Kent

For over 13 years, until about a year and a half ago, I was in an athletic performance program that was progressive and periodized. Phases 2 and 3 involved some seriously difficult trainings. I was in the habit of eating what I called my “no-bonk breakfast” because it got me through even the toughest workouts without an energy crash.

Since then, nutrition trends have shifted, as they tend to do. So I thought I”™d present the No-Bonk Breakfast in its original form and offer a few variations for those who would prefer those.

Here”™s the original. It starts with oatmeal, although you shouldn”™t eat that first, by itself. Cook it with water and cinnamon (for the glucose-stabilizing effect). If you”™re feeling hardcore, you can open the refrigerator and find some protein, like chicken, from last night”™s dinner and eat that while the oatmeal cooks. If not, stay with me for Plan B.

Plan B: Once the oatmeal is done, add a scoop of high-quality protein powder. This can be unflavored whey protein or a raw, vegan vegetable protein powder — or a combination of the two. (Other types of protein powder, like soy or brown rice, can also work. It”™s a personal choice, although I find brown rice protein powder tends to upset my stomach.) Don”™t cook the oatmeal with the protein powder, since heat can destroy amino acids. Add it to the cooked oatmeal.

Then add a wholesome fat. Examples might include raw, organic coconut oil; raw almond butter; cashew/macadamia butter (I gave you easy instructions for that over the holidays); walnuts, or another option that appeals to you.

If you want, you can add some fruit, such as ¼ cup of berries and/or ½ to 1 teaspoon of probiotic yogurt.

Okay, that”™s the original breakfast. Many gluten-free readers will object to oats from that perspective. Instead, you can try exactly the same recipe using quinoa. Because quinoa is often a lunch or dinner item, people assume its seasonings need to be savory, but there”™s no reason at all you can”™t use cinnamon and fruit, if you wish.

Another gluten-free way to go is with brown rice. You might even try sweet potatoes. I”™ve discovered that sweet potatoes and cinnamon make a great combination.

Some of these alternatives won”™t lend themselves to blending with protein powder, so here are two suggestions: mix the protein powder in a cup with water and drink it first, then eat the rest of your breakfast, OR go back to the original, “hard-core” idea and eat some leftover protein from dinner while heating up your rice, sweet potatoes, or quinoa.

Whatever you decide, this will be a great pre-class or pre-ride meal, but do not have it immediately before the workout.

It”™s a good idea to eat as soon as you get up in the morning. One sports nutrition expert advised us to wake up, use the bathroom as always, then immediately go into the kitchen and eat. That”™s not only good advice, but somewhat radical, since it”™s uncommon.

The worst thing to do is take care of everything else first — pack your gym bag (or get your cycling gear together), walk your dog, update your Facebook page — and then eat whatever you find before you run out the door. Doing that forces you to settle for the “grab-n-go” — whatever you can eat while driving, while cycling, while walking, or what-have-you. It also means the food won”™t be available during your training because it will still be in your stomach.

So the No-Bonk plan is: a) wake up early and eat right away, so your food is more accessible when your body needs it; b) eat one of the above breakfasts that combines protein, complex starches, and healthful fats. Fruit is optional. Portion sizes are up to you. Judge your own calorie needs and what you can handle comfortably.

The right breakfast and the right timing should help you get through a tough class or a tough ride without an energy slump. Please let me know how this works for you.

Joan Kent

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