Dance Health

Getting the Right Start: Quick and Easy Breakfast Ideas

Jump start your metabolism with these quick and easy breakfast ideas.

By Emily C. Harrison MS, RD, LD in collaboration with Jessica Cloud MS, and Dannah Burch MPH.

Don’t let busy back to school mornings compromise the most important meal of the day. Eating breakfast has been linked to improved academic performance, better mood, improved concentration and behavior1. Smart choices at breakfast, including the ones we suggest here, have been linked with stronger athletic performance and higher rates of body fat oxidation2. Fuel intake after a time of fasting, sends an important message to your body that you want a high metabolism, more energy, and strong muscles3,4. It’s challenging to get a nutritious breakfast when sleep is begging you to stay in bed. Take some time at the beginning of the week to plan ahead and give yourself that extra 5 minutes of sleep. You just might feel better, make better grades, dance better and have a better metabolism. Isn’t that worth getting up for?

Grabbing a low-sugar, pre-made bar or a banana while racing out the door is better than nothing, but you can’t beat good old oatmeal (porridge) with fruit and nuts or seeds, but here are some other quick ideas:

Overnight Oatmeal (porridge)
If you have some time before going to bed, this breakfast will be the perfect grab and go meal you need in the morning. It is filling and nutritious, but also tastes good! Here is what you will need: ¼ cup old fashioned uncooked oats, 1 cup of non-fat vanilla Greek yogurt (soy or coconut yogurt are good too), ½ cup of fresh blueberries. Mix ingredients in a jar and seal overnight in the refrigerator. In the morning your oatmeal will be ready to go! You could easily add flax seeds for brain boosting omega 3s.

Total Calories: 296.5 kcal, Total Fat: 1.75 g, Total Carbohydrates: 49 g, Total Protein: 23 g.

Strawberry Banana Smoothie
Smoothies are a quick and easy breakfast on the go and are endlessly adaptable. All you need is 1 cup of vanilla soy milk, 2 cups of sliced strawberries, 1 very ripe banana and 1 tbs chia seeds. Place ingredients in a blender and combine. Enjoy on the go!

Total Calories: 340 kcal, Total Fat: 5 g, Total Carbohydrates: 57 g, Total Protein: 9 g.

Apple Sandwiches
Spread your favorite nutbutter like peanut, almond or sunbutter over chunks of apple slices and sprinkle with ¼ cup low-fat granola.

Total Calories: 342, Total Fat: 13g, Total Fiber: 7 g, Total Protein: 12g

Trail Mix, homemade
½ cup (handful) mix of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, dried apricots, and puffed rice cereal.

Total Calories: 395, Total fat: 19g, Total Protein: 16g

Avocados on toast with ricotta (or goat cheese)
Good source of healthy fats and calcium for strong bones and muscle function.

1 slice of whole grain bread, 1 half small avocado, 2 tbs ricotta (skim).
Total Calories: 245, Total Fat: 12g, Total Protein 8g

Emily Harrison
Emily Cook Harrison MS, RD, LD
Emily is a registered dietitian and holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in nutrition from Georgia State University. Her master’s thesis research was on elite level ballet dancers and nutrition and she has experience providing nutrition services for weight management, sports nutrition, disordered eating, disease prevention, and food allergies. Emily was a professional dancer for eleven years with the Atlanta Ballet and several other companies. She is a dance educator and the mother of two young children. She now runs the Centre for Dance Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyles. She can be reached at

Adolphus K, Lawton CL, Dye L. The effects of breakfast on behavior and academic performance in children and adolescents. Front Hum Neurosci. 2013 Aug 8;7:425.
Stevenson EJ, Astbury NM, Simpson EJ, Taylor MA, Macdonald IA. Fat oxidation during exercise and satiety during recovery are increased following a low-glycemic index breakfast in sedentary women.
Coyle E. Fluid and fuel intake during exercise. Journal of Sports Sciences, 2004, 22:39-55.
Benardot D. Timing of energy and fluid intake: New concepts for weight control and hydration. American College of Sports Medicine’s Health and Fitness Journal vol 11 no 4.
USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.



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