by Dana Cavalea December 04, 2015

Whoever was the first person to say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, must have been an athlete. 

Because while failing to properly fuel up the in morning can leave the average person feeling a little flat, it can wreak absolute havoc on athletic performance! 

Here are three of the most common breakfast mistakes made by young athletes on game day. See which one's you may have fallen victim to and learn how to fix the problems. 

Blunder: Skipping breakfast altogether. 

This is easily one of the biggest mistakes I see kids making on game day. Whether it's just nerves, or they don't like playing with that "full" feeling, far too many young athletes opt to skip breakfast. 

Big mistake! Failing to properly fuel up the morning of a big competition can leave you feeling lethargic and make it difficult to concentrate and stay focused. Not only can that lead to poor performance, but athletes who are less mentally engaged in what they're doing are also more prone to injury. 

Fix it: Even if it means getting up a few minutes earlier, take the time to consume a nutritious breakfast before the big game. Better yet, make it a daily habit! 

Blunder: Consuming high sugar, high fat foods. 

To achieve the sharp mental focus and sustained energy you need to compete, simply eating breakfast isn't enough- you also have to make sure you're taking in the right types of nutrients. 

If your game day breakfast comes off a fast food menu, or out of a box that sports a cartoon character on it, chances are it's going to be high in fat and/ or sugar. 

High fat meals can lead to slower digestion and cramping, while eating foods high in sugar can cause your energy levels to quickly spike and then come crashing down shortly thereafter. Either way, it'll be nearly impossible to perform at your best. 

Fix it: Eat an at-home breakfast that's low in fat, with most of the sugars coming from things like fruit, as opposed to heavily sweetened cereals. Complex carbohydrates like whole grain breads and cereals work great, because they provide nice, sustained energy. And don't forget to get in some protein too with things like eggs, Greek yogurt or low-fat turkey sausage. 

Blunder: Bad timing. 

Even the right breakfast can pose a problem if you eat it at the wrong time. Too close to game time and you run the risk of cramping; while too far removed can leave your energy levels in the basement. 

Fix it: Eat a proper breakfast 60-90 minutes before the start of your game, or competition. 

Here are a couple of great game day breakfast ideas: 

- oatmeal with low fat milk and sliced banana

- whole grain toast with peanut butter (if not allergic), or low fat cream cheese and sliced fruit

- scrambled eggs with low fat chicken sausage and granola

Believe it or not, this seemingly simple advice can go a long way towards improving your athletic performance. So if you haven’t been playing as well as you’d like to and are making any of the mistakes listed above, commit to making the necessary changes and I promise you won’t be disappointed. 



Dana Cavalea
Dana Cavalea

Dana Cavalea is the World Champion Director of Strength and Conditioning & Performance of the New York Yankees. Currently, he is a High Performance Speaker & Consultant to Pro Athletes, Entrepreneurs, Business Executives, and Workforces on lifestyle strategies to reduce stress, improve work/life integration, and most importantly improve daily performance /outcomes. Book Dana to Speak at your Company Event or Conference Today!

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