LA Galaxy Performance Blog presented by Herbalife

The Power of Breakfast for Morning Momentum


Herbalife is the sports nutrition and presenting partner for the LA Galaxy. Registered Dietitians at Herbalife work closely with the LA Galaxy technical staff to make sure we are maximizing their nutrition to support performance goals.

You have most likely heard the saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but in today’s world many are opting to forgo this critical fueling opportunity. With many fad diets encouraging one to skip this crucial meal, it is truly essential to understand what exactly you are missing out on, especially as an athlete who relies on every fueling opportunity to help fuel their performance.

The Importance of Breakfast for Athletes

When you are asleep overnight, your tank becomes empty and reserves begin to run low. This means it is time to fill up and refuel. Breakfast is time to break the fast, kickstart your metabolism, and provide fuel for your body and your brain. Think of breakfast as a fueling opportunity to help you get enough fuel in your tank to support your performance (both physical and mental) during practice, training, workouts, and games.

Not only are you refilling your tank and reserves to obtain adequate calories and nutrients to fuel the beginning of your day, you are also helping the continuation of any recovery from the previous day’s training or match by supplying the essential nutrients necessary for tissue repair.

Furthermore, people who eat a balanced breakfast are more likely to make better nutrition choices throughout the rest of the day. This means that after eating breakfast you are able to make choices that help you stick to your nutrition plan in order to better support your personal performance goals.

Getting into the Breakfast Habit 

If you’re not already consistently eating breakfast, it is possible that you may not be hungry every morning. Oftentimes, this could mean that your hunger cues are dysregulated. However, not all is lost because your body can regain those much needed morning hunger cues with repeated morning food exposure.

Some tips to get you into the habit of eating breakfast to redevelop those hunger cues include:

  • Start small and focus on nutrient density (higher calorie, lower volume options).
  • Try liquids/semi-liquids like smoothies, protein shakes, or a yogurt parfait.
  • Stick to smaller, lower-fat meals and snacks close to bedtime to ensure you’re not still full from the night before.

Another common obstacle in the way of prioritizing a nutritious breakfast is that many say that they are simply too busy to carve out the time to cook in the morning or to eat a balanced breakfast each day.

Luckily, there are some strategies you can follow to ensure you don’t miss out on this important morning fueling opportunity:

  • Prep your breakfast in advance. Some easy options include: overnight oats, frozen breakfast burritos/sandwiches to quickly blast in the microwave, egg muffins, or pre-portioned smoothie ingredients to keep in the fridge or freezer overnight and quickly blend in the morning.
  • Look at your morning coffee shop’s menu ahead of time and try to match it to your Performance Plate. Keep a list of go-to orders in the Notes app on your phone so you can always make an informed choice.

How to Build a Balanced Breakfast 

Your best bet is to build your plate using the Performance Plate method. This means including a combination of carbs, protein, and color with each meal/snack and fine-tuning with beneficial fats and hydration.

Carbohydrates are needed to supply you with both quick (from simple sugars) and sustained energy (from complex carbs). Higher fiber options will keep you fuller for longer due to slower digestion and absorption, and can also help maintain regular blood sugar levels, preventing spikes and crashes. Your brain thrives on glucose, so prioritizing carb intake with each meal helps you to stay both fueled and focused during training, matches, and also your day-to-day life.

While carbs are an essential part of any athlete’s plate, protein is also one of the heroes at breakfast time. Protein supplies the building blocks (amino acids) to support the continuation of muscle recovery and repair. Higher protein intake at breakfast also increases satiety/fullness, allowing you to make your next fueling decisions prior to getting to the point of being “hangry.”

One component often missing from many plates during breakfast is color. Colorful fruits and vegetables help supply necessary vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients (beneficial plant pigment-based nutrients) to help support both recovery and immunity. If you find yourself not eating the rainbow each day, or your breakfast is leaning a bit too beige, adding some berries or chopped fruit is an easy addition that fits in with any plate. You can also try what I personally call a “breakfast salad” by serving your eggs scrambled with your favorite chopped veggies and potatoes, serving it all over a bed of arugula or mixed greens, and topped with salsa. This makes for an incredibly filling, balanced, and nutritious meal. Smoothies chock full of fruits and veggies are also a great way to add color into your morning breakfast. You can opt for smoothies with added protein and fat for meal replacement shake, or use a smoothie to supplement your Performance Plate.

Fats are also needed with each meal to help your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins and to help keep you fuller for longer. These fats are often supplied during breakfast in the form of egg yolks, avocado, and even the cooking oil/butter you used to cook your meal. Keeping your fat portion to about the size of your thumb can help keep calories under control.

Finally, in the same way that you need to refuel with calories and nutrients in the morning due to emptying reserves overnight, you also need to rehydrate because you are likely quite dehydrated upon waking. Start your day with a glass of water, and be sure to fill your water bottle and keep it near you to help rehydrate as needed throughout the entirety of your day.

Some more ideas for a balanced breakfast (carbs, protein, color) include:

  • Oatmeal cooked in milk with protein powder stirred in, topped with berries
  • Eggs, avocado, tomato, and greens on an English muffin with a side of fruit
  • Greek yogurt parfait with nuts/seeds, granola, and pomegranate seeds
  • PB&J sandwich on whole wheat bread and a protein shake
  • Veggie and cheese omelette with a side of country potatoes

As always, be sure to listen to your body and eat what works best for you. Follow the Performance Plate method to optimize your nutrition, but select the items that make you feel your best, so you can perform your best.


1. Zeballos E, Todd JE. The effects of skipping a meal on daily energy intake and diet quality. Public Health Nutr. 2020;23(18):3346-3355. doi:10.1017/S1368980020000683