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Breakfast: Hype or hyper-fuel?

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The Cal State Stanislaus women’s soccer team celebrates in November 2011 after beating Chico State to capture the California Collegiate Athletic Association title.

Photo courtesy of Cal State Stanislaus athletics/

POSTED September 19, 2012 12:58 a.m.

For years we’ve all heard the old adage, ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day.’ But what constitutes a good breakfast and why is it so important?

Go out and ask these questions and you’ll find that each response is as unique as the people answering. For some breakfast is a tradition where eggs, milk, bacon, and pancakes come together to jump start the day but for others a cup of yogurt or piece of toast is more than enough to suffice. Some people even go without a morning meal all together.

The impact of a meal such as breakfast does depend on one’s schedule and daily demands, however, so it might not be unusual for busy individuals to disregard the supposed importance of breakfast. Of course, when it comes to athletics the old cliché must hold true, right?

Well you might be surprised. While many athletes do fuel up in the morning there are still those who go without; to each their own it seems. But for those who do look to breakfast to send them off into the world on the right foot, the choice of food can be a tradition or even a rigid routine.

“There’s no way I can get up and do anything without eating,” Emily Relles said.

“It might be a mental thing but I think it definitely helps,” Sierra Casas said.

Relles and Casas are both student athletes at California State University, Stanislaus where they compete on the soccer field for the Warriors — a team that brought home the California Collegiate Athletic Association title in 2011. Although a few of their teammates prefer not to eat breakfast these ladies buy into the hype surrounding its effect on the day. Still, their choice of food and reasoning behind it do not synch up completely.

“I put more protein in my meals so that I have more energy,” Casas said.

Casas’ protein intake comes in the form of scrambled eggs, which are accompanied by toast and mass amounts of water. The spread on Casas’ table also changes depending on the occasion; on off days she enjoys bagels but when it’s game day she loads her plate with extra eggs.

Relles, on the other hand, eats oatmeal, yogurt, and cereal no matter what the occasion. Whereas her teammate opts for protein, Relles turns to carbohydrates to fill her stomach and give her lasting energy, an important factor when performing at a high athletic level.

Relles and Casas, like all student athletes at CSU Stanislaus, are also aided by nutritional information and in some cases meal plans provided by their coaches.  The two women Warriors commented on the added importance of nutrition when making the leap from high school to collegiate athletics.

“I’m definitely smarter about what I eat,” Relles said.

“I think it’s really important to eat breakfast every day, especially on game days,” Casas said.

Although everyone is different a healthy breakfast for athletes should contain, on average, 500-700 calories from a combination of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. It is also suggested to include both fruits and vegetables with at least two glasses of water and/or some milk.

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