Must Eat Breakfast Foods
Breakfast, it is said to be the most important meal of the day. I have to agree. Although I think that statement can be confusing.
Do you eat immediately upon rising? Does it mean it’s the biggest meal of the day? Steak and eggs? Time to carb load to get in extra energy? A bagel and yogurt parfait? Or keep it light? A smoothie for the road?
What you eat as your first meal of that day will dictate your energy, your cravings and your hormone fluctuations that are related to excess weight for the rest of the day. What you consume as your first meal is more important than when your first meal is. Some people eat within an hour after rising, for others it may be a few hours. Either way, the focus should be on what you eat vs when.
Traditional “breakfast foods” are often carbohydrate based and full of sugar. A bagel to start the day? A bowl of bran flakes with skim milk? Sounds healthy right? Well I’ve got news for you, its not. That breakfast adds up to close to 30 grams of sugar right off the bat which will spin your internal environment out of control. Yes, there is some fiber, but these manufactured products, flakes doused in dairy, are going to spike your blood sugars and as a result, your insulin levels. Why does that matter?
Let me explain. Every time we eat, our blood sugars are affected. They rise as a response to the intake of foods. When blood sugars are elevated, the pancreas is notified to release insulin. Insulin is the hormone that is used to help reduce and stabilize blood sugar. Simple right?
When we eat high carbohydrate meals or consume sugar, our blood sugar spikes. It rises well above normal levels. The pancreas sees this and freaks out. It expels an excessive amount of insulin to bring those blood sugars down. So much so that they drop dramatically and there is an excess of insulin still left floating around in the blood stream. The extra insulin triggers your body to store fat. Not only that, but now that your blood sugars have dropped extremely low, cravings kick in. When blood sugar is down, so is our energy. We start to feel tired and our body starts to ask for fuel to keep you going. What offers quick energy? You got it, carbs. So now the cycle starts all over again. Eat carbs aka sugar, spike blood sugar, insulin released, blood sugar drops, craving hits, eat carbs, blood sugar spikes, insulin released, crave carbs again. It becomes a vicious cycle and will absolutely hold you back from reaching your goals. Whether its increased energy or decreased jean size, your food affects your hormones, your hormones affect your energy and weight.
NOTE: This is not meant to be an Anti-Carb message. I like carbs. I embrace them. It is the types of carbs that matter. ALL fruits and vegetables are carbs. Beans and legumes, also carbs. I do not advocate for no carbs, instead I encourage whole foods that happen to be carbs.
So, what do we do instead? This is when fat and protein become your friends. Clean protein and good quality fats of course. By ditching the bagel and opting for eggs with avocado or a protein shake blended with some hemp hearts, berries and nut milk, we minimize the impact on our blood sugars. The pancreas does not have a panic attack and only releases what the body needs. There are no extreme spikes or drops of blood sugars which means there is steady energy and NO cravings! Yes, you heard me right. Cravings, in my opinion, are created. They are not a natural occurrence. What you eat will either fuel cravings or diminish them. It is all a hormone response.
Getting some protein at each meal can help with blood sugar management, metabolism and weight loss. This is because protein helps you feel fuller longer and uses up a bunch of calories to absorb and metabolize it.
Breakfast Food #1: Eggs
Yes, eggs are the “quintessential” breakfast food. And for good reason!
No, I’m not talking about processed egg whites in a carton. I mean actual whole “eggs”. Ideally from organically raised free range chickens.
Egg whites are mostly protein while the yolks are the real nutritional powerhouses. Those yolks contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy fats. Within egg yolks is an essential nutrient called choline. Choline is important to produce neurotransmitters as well as maintaining cellular membranes, transmitting nerve impulses, processing fats and cholesterol. Omitting the yolks and you are losing out on all of the nutritional benefits of eggs.
Eggs have been shown to help you feel full, keep you feeling fuller longer, and help to stabilize blood sugar and insulin.
Boil a bunch of eggs and keep them in the fridge for a “grab and go” breakfast when you’re running short on time.
Fry up a couple and serve on a bed of spinach, top with salsa and avocado and you will be set for the day.
And no, the cholesterol in eggs is not associated with an increased risk of arterial or heart diseases. If you are concerned about cholesterol, CLICK HERE for my full post on cholesterol explain the risk factors and dispel myths.
One thing to consider is to try to prevent cooking the yolks at too high of a temperature because that can cause some of the cholesterol to become oxidized. It’s the oxidized cholesterol that’s heart unhealthy.
Breakfast Food #2: Nuts and/or Seeds
Nuts and seeds contain protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Nuts and/or seeds would make a great contribution to breakfast.
Don’t be fooled by “candied” nuts, sweetened nut/seed butters, or chia “cereals” with added sugars – I’m talking about the real, whole, unsweetened raw food.
Nuts and seeds are the ultimate fast food if you’re running late in the mornings. Grab a small handful of almonds, walnuts, or pumpkin seeds as you’re running out the door; you can nosh on them while you’re commuting.
Blend a spoonful of nut/seed butter into your morning breakfast smoothie. Nut butters add a creamy satisfying texture while providing fiber, calcium and a dose of healthy fats. CLICK HERE for my smoothie recipe called Carrot Cake in a Glass containing Almond butter.
A Quick Note on Smoothies: Caution to what you throw into your blender if you are aiming to stabilize you blood sugars and if weight loss is a goal. Some blended drinks can add up to 500-800 calories and 50 grams of sugar or more. Flavored yogurt, cow milk, ripe bananas, mangos or pineapple are all high in sugar. Instead blend with unsweetened nut milks, use berries and a slice of avocado. Hemp hearts, flax seeds and chi offer protein, fiber and healthy fats.
If you like a creamy latte in the mornings try making one with nut or seed butter. Just add your regular hot tea or coffee and a tablespoon or two of a creamy nut or seed butter into your blender & blend until frothy.
Breakfast Food #3: Veggies
You just cant go wrong with vegetables. Morning noon and night, they will always serve you well. The more the better. So, don’t save them for just lunch and dinner, start your day with a heavy dose of nutrients and get your veggies in right away.
Vegetables are powerhouses of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, fiber, and water.
You don’t need to have a salad for breakfast if you don’t want to (but you totally can!) It’s not unusual for me to have veggies and humus for breakfast. Or a salad topped with hard boiled eggs. You’re not breaking any “official” breakfast rules.
Got some extra roasted peppers from last nights dinner? Why not throw them into an omelet? No tome to cook? Toss a handful of spinach into your smoothie. The mild flavor is not existent once blended in and you get some greens into your system right away. How about a different topping for your toast? (That’s one slice of whole grain toast of course) Try it topped with avocado. The creamy texture will make you feel like you are eating decadence while adding in healthy fats, fiber and a boatload of other nutrients. (Technically avocado is a fruit but since it has high quality fats and fiber, it acts more like a vegetable in your body) All of which contributes to minimal blood sugar responses, happy hormones, steady energy and zero cravings throughout the day.
So, when it comes to breakfast, think outside of the box, literally. Ditch the cereals, bagels, sugar loaded fruit juices and manufactured pastries. Instead opt for a protein rich breakfast that includes healthy fat and sneak in some veggies to start your day off right!
Nutrition is confusing. I get it. To learn more about how the food you eat affect your health, CLICK HERE for a free consultation call. Nutrition appointments can be done, in person, over the phone or online for your convenience.