“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”
You hear this from doctors and nutritionists, on TV, from your parents and teachers, basically everyone. Why? Breakfast provides the fuel you need to get your day started.
A healthy, filling breakfast get your metabolism revved up. That energy will last throughout the day and you will feel less hungry. Without breakfast, the body believes there will be no food so enters into a ‘crisis’ mode where it uses its fat reserves. While it is a great idea to burn your fat reserves, the body also lowers metabolism and the rate at which calories are burned. That’s why when you eat at 11AM, four hours after waking up, your body is unable to process all the calories and turns it into fat.
So no breakfast means slower calorie burning.
Why we skip breakfast:
- Not enough time in the mornings
- Food costs are really high and breakfast is a sacrificial lamb, so to speak
- Not hungry in the mornings
- Too tired to cook breakfast
- The dreaded “carbs” make dieters panic
- And on and on
Breakfast, for many people, is an inconsequential meal – somewhat of a luxury but definitely not a necessity. However, if you’re trying to stick to a healthy diet and lose some weight, breakfast should be a necessity in your life.
Over 80% of the National Weight Control Registry’s members eat breakfast daily. And not only a quick packet of oatmeal or a small protein bar, but actual food. For individuals wanting to lose the weight and keep it off, breakfast is a vital weapon to keep in the arsenal.
Tips for a Wholesome Breakfast
A lot of people simply do not have a lot of knowledge about what they can eat for breakfast beyond the American classic bacon and eggs or a drive-thru McMelty something-or-‘nother. Let’s go over some tips that will help you prepare and eat a well-balanced, filling breakfast.
Yes. From sugary offerings to fortified specialty brands, you can find dozens of varieties of cereal at the local grocery store. Cereal is a great thing to eat for breakfast, as long as you’re eating an all-natural variety, preferably with low-fat or soy milk, that isn’t loaded down with sugars. But cereal alone isn’t quite enough for breakfast.
No, we’re not suggesting you double-up on your bowl size. You don’t need to start woofing down your cereal from a mixing bowl. But since it’s mostly complex carbohydrates that make up the breakfast cereals, they aren’t usually very satisfying. You probably feel hungry right after eating a bowl of cereal.
A great tip here is to eat something alongside the cereal, like a lean protein. Something like a slice of ham or some eggs (even egg substitute) will help you feel fuller for longer without having to eat a lot. You can eat a small bowl of cereal and the protein on the side.
Fiber is also an essential part of breakfast. It digests slower and keeps you feeling satisfied for hours. The ideal breakfast should consist of carbohydrates, protein and fiber. To that end, let’s go over a few different breakfast combinations you can try out to stay satisfied.
- Bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon with a piece of fruit on the side
- An egg-white omelet with fresh veggies (mushrooms, onions, green peppers, olives, etc) and cheese mixed in, served alongside some wheat toast
- A bowl of whole bran cereal with celery and peanut butter on the side with some raisins
- Some lean turkey bacon or sausage with whole wheat toast and strawberry jam with an apple or pear on the side
- A healthy salad with croutons and hard-boiled eggs
- Banana nut bread (preferably made with bran or whole wheat flour) and sliced bananas on the side
- A granola bar with some fruit and perhaps a few cold cuts
You can see where we’re going with the breakfast idea. You want to mix it up a little bit and try a variety of things. One thing all of these breakfast ideas do have in common: They’re simple and quick. There’s no use to make a four-course meal out of breakfast, dirtying up every dish in the house. And this leads us right into tip number-two.
Make it Quick
Because of the morning’s time constraints and the fact that you probably do not feel like going through a hassle simply to eat, always remember to keep it quick and simple. With the large healthy food market today, it is not hard at all to find great deals at the store on ready-made breakfast bars, fresh fruit, fortified cereals, etc, and items like eggs are always inexpensive.
Even cooking something on a Sunday and portioning it out for a few days works rather well. There’s nothing set in stone saying that you need to have “breakfast” items for breakfast. A pot of turkey chili provides carbs, lean protein and fiber. Some low-fat chicken salad, served on wheat bread with lettuce and tomatoes, does the same.
Prepare to Eat
As we mentioned way up top in this article, many people do not eat breakfast because they’re simply not hungry. In some cases, when they do try to eat, they end up with an upset stomach. Well, this is most likely due to the fact that you are eating too close to bedtime the night before. Since you’re at full rest, your food isn’t digesting as quickly as it would if you were out there busting your hump at work. So your stomach might not be singing first thing in the morning.
Of course, to cancel this out and to actually feel the need to eat in the mornings, which would help you out come breakfast time, you should stop eating at least four hours before bedtime the night previous. This way, you will feel hungry when you wake up and you will feel a noticeable difference in your energy levels after you eat. It’s the balance nature intended.
Cancel out the Bad Choices
Even we must admit that biting into a slice of cold pizza in the morning is delicious. But it’s bad for you. Likewise with going to the fast-food joint or ordering up a carb and sugar-loaded stack of flapjacks at the IHOP – it’s a bad choice! What we want here are all-natural foods, lower in calorie count and fairly lean. You want good (complex) carbohydrates and none of that pure sugar that weighs you down an hour after you enjoy breakfast.
Some of the breakfast items you can pick up at the store are also really bad choices for you. Those fat-drenched, ready-made sausage links and patties are terrible for your health. They’re full of trans and saturated fats, packed full of calories, and will really do nothing to fill you up. They’re convenient; that’s their entire shtick. The same thing goes for those toaster pastries. They’re nothing but white flour and a whole lot of sugar with some artificial flavorings (unless you buy a specific all-natural brand). Stay far away from those.
Ideally, to eat as healthy as you can and to get the most nutrition out of your first meal of the day, substitute pork and beef for turkey and chicken. You might pay an extra dollar per pound for a turkey-based product, but it is well worth it. Turkey bacon has over 60% less fat, far fewer calories, cooks up quicker, and the taste is virtual indistinguishable from the real thing. The same benefits apply for turkey sausage.
When all else fails, though, fortified cereals and fresh fruits and veggies should be your go-to source for healthy dieting.
It might sound like we want you to eat a lot, but that’s not entirely true. Though you should be—ideally; it’s not set in stone—eating a protein, carbs and fiber with your breakfast, the portions should still be small. You want to keep track of your calories here. You should be able to eat a fully satisfying breakfast in 500 calories or less.
A bowl of your basic cereal, with milk included, is probably going to come out to around 250 calories. If you’re having two eggs on a piece of whole wheat toast with that, you’re up to around 400-450, give or take; a meal that size, around 400 calories, is perfect. It’s healthy, it will fill you up, it will pack a lot of energy and you will stay feeling full for most of the day.
If you can follow these tips and always remember to enjoy a healthy breakfast, you should have no trouble sticking to a diet and making weight-loss happen for you. You’ll have to do it one step at a time, and breakfast in the morning is a great way to get started out on the right foot.