‘I’m a Sports Cardiologist and Marathon Runner, and These Are the Heart-Healthy Breakfasts I Love’

Photo:Getty Images/Justin Paget
Just ask any morning runner: What you eat for breakfast makes or breaks the miles ahead of you. Eat too much fiber and you'll wind up sprinting for the nearest public restroom; skip the carbs and you'll be struggling to find the energy to check off your last few kilometers. Luckily, marathon runner and sports cardiologist John Higgins, MD, of the University of Texas Health Science Center, has the most important meal of the day dialed in. So we asked him to share the very best breakfasts for runners (whether you're smashing your mile record or aiming for that 26.2).

No matter if you prefer your pre-run breakfast to be sweet or savory, Dr. Higgins has a meal in mind for you. Just make sure to stay true to age-old running wisdom and not try anything new on race day (including Dr. Higgins' unreal smoothie). Without further ado, here are a sports cardiologist’s go-to morning eats for fueling up either before or after your a.m. miles.

Experts In This Article
  • John Higgins, MD, sports cardiologist with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth

The best breakfasts for runners, according to a sports cardiologist

1. Dr. Higgins' Power Smoothie

Dr. Higgins' favorite smoothie combines bananas, strawberries, raspberries, kiwi, oranges, almonds, and organic honey yogurt for a berry-packed blend. He loves this smoothie because berries are packed with antioxidants (think: vitamin C, flavonoids, and polyphenols), which boost vascular function. Meanwhile, the bananas provide potassium and fiber, and the nuts increase nitric oxide (which has been found to lower cholesterol).

To make this smoothie yourself, blend one cup of honey yogurt with a small handful of almonds, one small banana, and the other fruits listed above. If you like a thinner texture, add one cup of unsweetened almond milk. This makes two servings.

2. PR Omelet

So you're craving a hearty plate of eggs? Opt for an omelet filled with your favorite veggies and protein of choice—Dr. Higgins likes his with ham—and don't forget your toast. "Eggs and ham are great sources of protein," says Dr. Higgins, who washes his down with orange juice to add some heart-healthy vitamin C.

3. Cereal With the Works

When Dr. Higgins is in a hurry, he opts for a simple bowl of Raisin Bran cereal with sliced bananas, strawberries, green grapes, and strawberry yogurt. The Raisin Bran offers the carbs and sugar you need to fuel your run, while the green grapes and berries offer antioxidants that will help your body recover later.

4. Berry and Yogurt Pancakes

There are myriad ways to make pancakes, but Dr. Higgins tops his flapjacks with organic honey, cashews, bananas, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and vanilla yogurt. The pancakes and honey provide the carbs and sugar needed to energize your miles,  while the cashews and yogurt offer added protein, and all the berries provide those much-needed antioxidants to help you recover post-run.

If you don’t already have a fav flapjack mix, try this easy banana pancake recipe:

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