Saturday, May 12, 2012

Spotlight on Breakfast

Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.  After 7-8 hours of no nourishment, your body needs fuel to get the day going!  You may think that you can save a few minutes in the morning by skipping breakfast but don't be tempted!  You'll be more efficient in all of your activities if you eat a healthy meal first, and skipping breakfast can actually be detrimental to weight loss.  People who don't eat breakfast are far more likely to indulge in not-so-healthy snacks and may also overeat at their next meal.  So jump start your metabolism with these power-packed breakfast ideas!
Here's an easy way to create a balanced breakfast.  Simply choose a protein from the list below, then pair it with another choice or two from the next list.  The amount/number of each item will vary depending on your caloric needs.

Protein Power!

  • eggs (cooked with cooking spray or a small amount of butter) - a combo of whole eggs and egg whites will give you a balance of nutrients, protein, and a little fat.
  • meat - try to stick with naturally lower fat meats like chicken or turkey or lean beef.  They come in sausage patties or links, or you can have diced in an omelet, etc.
  • veggie burgers or veggie sausages - generally made with beans and/or soy
  • natural peanut butter - watch the servings on this because it's not much.  Naturally More is a great choice because it has extra protein and includes flax.
  • nuts - walnuts, almonds, pecans, hazelnuts (no, I did not say Nutella!), and pistachios are all packed with nutrients
  • powdered egg whites - If you can't stomach eggs, these can be added to oatmeal for extra protein.  Quaker Weight Control Oatmeal has protein already added and tastes great!
  • whey protein powder - add to smoothies (more about these later), or drink with just water or almond milk.
  • Greek yogurt - try to find one low in sugar, which excludes most of the flavored varieties.  Flavor yours with fresh fruit and stevia instead.
  • Shakeology - packed with nutrients and easily replacing a daily multivitamin, this is a great choice for breakfast - and it's fast and delicious!

Add Some Good Carbs

  • oatmeal
  • Special K cereal - 1 cup is a serving!
  • farina - Cream of Wheat, Coco Wheats, etc.
  • sweet potatoes - yes, even for breakfast!
  • natural granola - look for one low in sugar
  • fruit - breakfast is a good time to eat higher carb fruits such as  banana, plum, pear, kiwifruit, pineapple, mango, grape, and figs.  One serving is 1/2 cup or once small piece of whole fruit.
  • whole grain toast, english muffins, etc.- look for those low in sugar and high in fiber
  • vegetables - Load up on the veggies - they contain fiber that will fill you up, and they are very low in calories.  They are also of course very nutrient dense!  Add them to omelets, smoothies, or eat raw.

Breakfast Dos and Don'ts

  • Hold the sugar!  Donuts and breakfast pastries are out.  They will only cause your blood sugar to spike, and will not give you any sustained energy.
  • Be conscious of your dairy choices.  Milk, even skim, contains more sugar than you may want to consume if you are looking to lose weight.  Almond milk is a great substitute.
  • Use cheese sparingly. Loading your omelet up with cheese is going to also load it up with extra fat.  1/4 cup is one serving.
  • Coffee has some health benefits and can give you a needed boost, but what you put IN your coffee can add unnecessary sugar and fat to your breakfast.  Try to use stevia as a sweetener and use dairy sparingly.  Those who are eating clean will also want to avoid the "chemical cocktail" that is artificial coffee creamer.  Green tea is a great substitute for coffee, and has been shown to increase your metabolism as well.
  • Beware the smoothie!  Filling your blender to the brim with fruit and juice and yogurt may seem like a great idea, but it can pack a calorie punch!  Use plain Greek yogurt, almond milk, and small amounts of juice with your fruit to keep the sugar content in check.  Smoothies can be sweetened with stevia as well.  Adding Greek yogurt or protein powder to your smoothie (or eating some protein along with it) will slow down the absorption of the sugar from the fruit as well.  Unless you have checked the nutritional info beforehand, store bought smoothies are generally not a great idea. For example, Jamba Juice’s Peanut Butter Moo’d Power Smoothie packs nearly 1200 calories in one 30 oz serving. Moo indeed!

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