The Importance of a Healthy Breakfast
- Thursday, 02 September 2010
Breakfast! It’s not just the most important meal of the day it’s actually my favorite meal of the day. Breakfast is the fuel that keeps our minds and bodies running throughout the day. We’ve heard how important breakfast is since we were kids. And, if you have kids, I’m sure you do everything in your power to get them to eat breakfast every day. Well, how often do you heed that advice?
With our hectic schedules, it’s easy to stop by the nearest Starbucks, grab a cup of coffee and a bagel, a muffin that’s loaded with fat and calories, or skip breakfast altogether. Well, I can tell you that a cup of coffee and a muffin (or bagel) does not count as a nutritious breakfast. A Caramel Macchiato has a whopping 270 calories, 10 grams of fat, and 34 grams of carbs and we haven’t even added the calories from the bagel or muffin. A reduced fat blueberry muffin had 450 calories, 10 grams of fat, and 86 grams of carbs. So, if this was what you had for breakfast this morning, you’ve just ingested 720 calories, 20 grams of fat, and 120 grams of carbs!
Many people skip breakfast in an effort to lose weight. Actually, you are more likely to gain weight than lose it! Breakfast skippers tend to eat more than usual or make unhealthy choices at their next meal. These people often reach for unhealthy, high calorie, sugary snacks before their next meal to silence their growling bellies. People who eat a well-balanced and nutritious breakfast are more likely to be successful in losing body fat and maintaining a healthy weight than those who skip it.
So, you ask, “How is eating breakfast good for weight loss?” Think of it this way, you have been asleep for 6 to 8 hours so, your body is in starvation mode and your metabolism is very slow when you first wake up. Not eating for an extended period of time, as we do when we are sleeping, causes your metabolism to go into slow motion. Eating breakfast within the first 30 minutes of waking revs your metabolism back up, gives your body the boost of energy it needs to start your day, and increases your bodies’ fat burning ability. Skipping breakfast or any other meal for that matter will only slow your metabolism down. So, if you are trying to lose weight, you want to keep your metabolism running fast.
Let’s face it, when we think about breakfast, visions of warm, fluffy pancakes with sausage links, a giant banana-nut muffin, a big bowl of Cap’N Crunch, or an omelet stuffed with cheese and bacon usually come to mind. Well, as tasty as those foods are, we all know that they do not make up a healthy or nutritious breakfast. So, What exactly is a healthy and nutritious breakfast? A combination of lean protein, complex carbs- preferably from whole grains, and a healthy fat. Some sources of lean proteins include eggs or low-fat dairy products like Greek yogurt. I love Voskos and Fage plain non-fat Greek yogurt. Protein powders (i.e. whey or organic soy) from your local nutrition shop can also be used as your protein source. I use Myofusion and Elite 12 Hour protein powders because they each have a great blend of protein and taste delicious! Complex carbs include oats or oatmeal and whole grain breads or cereals. Oatmeal is a good source of many nutrients including vitamin E, zinc, iron, and magnesium it is also a good source of protein and fiber. Healthy fats include nuts and nut butters, flax seeds, and avocados.
A good example of a healthy breakfast would be 3 to 4 egg whites, ½ cup of oatmeal, with a tablespoon of ground flax seeds and ½ cup of fresh blueberries. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants and provide an excellent source of vitamins C and E. My breakfast consists of ½ cup of oatmeal, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, 1 scoop soy protein powder, and ½ cup of almond milk with cinnamon and stevia for sweetening. I cook the oatmeal and chia together then add in the protein powder, almond milk, cinnamon, and stevia. If I’m running short on time? I blend my protein powder, ½ cup of oatmeal, splash of almond milk, water, and ice together and have my breakfast to go!
If you prefer cold cereal for breakfast, make sure to read the label and choose one that lists whole grains as the first ingredient with no added sugar. Uncle Sam® and Kashi® Go Lean cereals are great options as they are both high fiber and low sugar cereals. If you’re thinking of grabbing one of those breakfast or energy bars, keep in mind that they are not as healthy as they seem. Make sure to read the labels, as many are high in sugar and fat.
If a traditional breakfast isn’t your thing, consider having a whole grain tortilla filled with chicken breast and veggies, a baked yam sprinkled with cinnamon and a lean ground turkey patty, or non-fat Greek yogurt with blueberries and a handful of natural (low sugar) granola.
A healthy and nutritious breakfast is the best way to start the day. Eating breakfast improves your thinking ability, keeps you focused, and helps prevent obesity. The morning meal is the fuel that keeps us running throughout the day. Try it for a week and see how much better you feel.
Written By: Jennifer Billings, BS, CPT