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What to eat before running: Breakfast quinoa

How should a runner start their day ahead of a big workout or competition? Athlete and nutrition expert Rose Marie Jarry has the perfect solution with this plant-based breakfast power-up.


By Rose Marie Jarry


Breakfast can seem like a fairly mundane meal for plenty of people, many of us have a tenancy to neglect it. On the other hand, it’s one of the most important ways to start our day. A lot of folks have a hard time finding a way to make breakfast interesting and it takes creativity to find more variety in your breakfast choices. Eggs, coffee and toast, or a bowl of cereal are not your only options for this important meal.


Powering up with a plant-based breakfast

I would like to propose another breakfast option that is out of the ordinary, a 100% plant-based breakfast, nutrient balanced and built to provide adequate energy for days chalked with physical activity, workouts or even competition.


I got this idea from something my mother used to serve me back when quinoa was unpopular and almost unknown to most people. From when I was eight years old, I hated eating this breakfast for years, but since then I have come to appreciate and understand the benefits of this wonderful grain and take full advantage. It allowed me to create a breakfast that is delicious and packed with all the necessary nutrients. Here's what you'll need. I recommend using organic ingredients wherever possible:



1 cup (340g) of cooked quinoa
1/3 cup (80ml) of plant-based milk substitute (I suggest oat, cashew or coconut milk)
1/4 cup (32g) of coconut sugar or maple sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/4 cup (32g) of fresh blueberries
1/4 cup (32g) of fresh raspberries
1/4 cup (32g) of pumpkin seeds
1/2 Banana cut into slices
1 tablespoon of chia seeds



Place the warm, cooked quinoa in a large bowl, add your milk substitute, the sugar, seeds and fresh fruits. And that’s it! The only thing left to do is enjoy.


Quinoa – king of grains for runners?

Quinoa is an excellent source of nutrients for athletes. A cup of cooked quinoa contains eight grams of highly bioavailable and easy to digest protein. It's also a great source of iron, which is very important for distance runners. High mileage runners often tend to have iron deficiencies and sometimes even anemia.


Quinoa contains a lot of the amino acid lysine, which is essential to tissue repair. This makes it very good for repairing muscle damage incurred by your regular workouts.


This super grain also contains magnesium, a power antioxidant which will help eliminate toxins produced during your hard workouts. Quinoa contains minerals such as magnesium, sodium, potassium, zinc which you find in any electrolyte supplement that you would regularly take before, during or after your workout to remain well hydrated and have optimal neuromuscular function during exercise. It’s also a great source of carbohydrates for long-lasting energy that you cannot acquire with sugar.


I add fresh organic fruit to this recipe to avoid ingesting any pesticides and to gain a delicious, clean, natural source of carbohydrates and antioxidants on top of the myriad benefits offered by the quinoa.


Coconut sugar has a low glycemic index, which will allow you to maintain your glucose levels without sudden variation. Maple syrup is also a good natural alternative to sweeten your food.


Pumpkin and chia seeds add a nice crunch as well as additional protein, magnesium, omega (good) fatty acids and zinc.


For all of these great reasons I recommend this recipe on active or competition days. If you're competing in the morning, I suggest eating this at least three hours before you compete, followed by proper hydration in the time leading up to your start.


Enjoy, and good luck with whatever running goal you're fueling for!


Rose Marie Jarry was the fastest 800m runner in Quebec for many years. When injury curbed her track ambitions in 2009, she found a new calling in Spartan adventure races, competing in over 70 of the competitions, and ranking No.1 globally. At the same time, a love of healthy food led to her found Kronobar, which today produces over 200,000 bars a year. Rose Marie is now returning to the track with her sights set the podium for the 800m at the World Master’s Championship in Toronto in 2020. Underpinning Rose Marie’s training is deep understanding of how the right nutrients can help unlock peak performance.



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