I’m sure you’ve heard it before. “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” “Don’t skip your breakfast.” Or the old adage, “Eat breakfast like a King and supper like a pauper.” But are you doing it? And if not, why not?
It is true – breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It sets the pace. A healthy breakfast gets the body’s metabolism up and running. Eating an unhealthy breakfast or skipping it and you are more likely to suddenly get hungry and grab quick things that are unhealthy (donuts and candy) or eat extra food at lunch to make up for missing breakfast. It has been documented that breakfast skippers notoriously struggle to lose weight.
Many people think eating less or skipping meals helps them lose weight. This is another one of those “sounds great, but not true” when it comes to nutrition. What actually happens is that the body is designed to adapt to its environment. If it is not being fed on a regular basis, it enters “starvation mode” to preserve nutrients by cutting back metabolism so it can survive longer. This adaption to a slower metabolism is why low calorie diets fail. Once people are off the diet they go back to how they used to eat, but their metabolism has slowed down. The result is adding the pounds right back on. Remember fat cells do two things – they expand and they multiply – they do not go away!
It is important to eat regular meals and if necessary snacks evenly throughout the day. I find the need for snacks is quite individualized. By consistently nourishing your body through the day, blood sugar levels remain more constant and provide balanced energy through the day. With fewer blood sugar spikes you will experience fewer food cravings.
Here are some examples of my favorite healthy breakfasts. Now is a great time to start with my favorite option the breakfast shake. It is summer time and there is lots of fresh fruit to include in your smoothie. Notice that all the choices have protein and healthy fat in the meal. Vary your breakfast so it does not become routine and boring.
1. Breakfast smoothie – Use a high quality protein powder made from whey and/or brown rice. Do not use soy protein powders and watch out for artificial sweeteners. A basic rule of thumb is to not use powders that say all you need to add is water. Use powders which you need to blend with other healthy ingredients such as: plain whole fat yogurt or kefir, one half banana, one cup of fresh or frozen berries (blueberries, strawberries, or raspberries), one tablespoon of flax seed oil or ground flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and almonds.
2. Some combination of: Yogurt or kefir with fresh or frozen fruit, ground flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds. (Basically the smoothie above without the protein powder.)
3. Eggs – hard boiled is best followed by soft boiled or poached. Fried and scrambled are also options but do so at a low temperature and use organic coconut oil, butter, or ghee. You can include vegetables as a side dish or as part of an omelet. I like to sauté leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, or chard with onions in coconut oil. Feel free to do eggs 2-3 times per week.
4. Whole grain (please use 100% whole grain products) or sprouted bread toast with butter, ghee, organic natural peanut butter, almond butter, or humus. Limit to 1-2 times per week.
5. If you are really hungry and don’t plan on a mid morning snack you can do a combination of 3 and 4.
6. Steel cut oatmeal, also called Irish Style. These are the real whole oats. You can also add raisins, nuts, seeds, and after cooking, organic maple syrup, or Stevia to sweeten. A cooking tip: On the box it will say to cook for 30 minutes, however if you soak the oats over night in water and even a little yogurt they will cook in about 10 minutes. I’d limit this to 1-2 times per week also.
Now that you’ve read through my suggestions for a healthy breakfast, what do you notice is missing? If you are curious I invite you to give me a call or send an e-mail to find out why I have not included them!
Bernard Rosen, PhD is a Nutrition Consultant and Educator. He works with individuals, groups, and at corporations to create individualized nutrition and wellness programs. He has offices in Thiensville and Glendale. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, e-mail at email@example.com, call (262) 389-9907 or go to www.brwellness.com.