By: Trice Sweet
“What are you eating for breakfast?”
That’s usually the first question I ask people when they’re looking for advice on what exactly to eat.
Usually responses are “Cereal and an apple,” or “A banana with peanut butter,” or most commonly, “Oh, I don’t have time for breakfast.”
You just rolled out of bed, you’re rushing out the door, you might not be hungry, and all of the advice you keep getting revolves around the fact that “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”
Is breakfast the most important meal of the day? I’m not sure about this answer yet, but I can tell you what most of my research has led me to.
- Skipping breakfast may lead to up-regulation of appetite, possibly leading to weight gain.
- Breakfast skipping has been linked to poorer overall diet quality.
- Regular breakfast consumption may reduce the risk of chronic diseases due to the impact on the composition of the overall diet.
- Consuming breakfast has also been linked time and time again with improved learning abilities and better school performance in children (AKA adequate brain function).
If you’re an athlete and you’re reading this, breakfast is also important due to the need for overall intake of protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates throughout the day.
Breakfast sets you up for the rest of the day. You should always focus on two factors with your first meal.
2. Healthy fats
Protein is satiating, meaning it fills you up, and helps you avoid overconsumption, which also means you won’t eat more than you really need. It also digests really slowly (in comparison to carbohydrates) giving you ridiculously good energy for the next few hours.
Healthy fats are also filling, aid in brain function (your brain is made up of around 60% fat!), which will help you power through long, mentally taxing work days and aid in mental acuity. In addition, they also digest slowly, keeping you fuller, longer.
Carbohydrates are not the devil. Carbs provide energy sources you need to lift heavy weights, make trips from your desk to the copy room, or give your kid a piggy back ride after work. Carbs supply us with glycogen, which is stored glucose, and the body’s first pile from which it pulls for energy. At certain points, these carbs will be used alongside fats to get things done, but the point is, you need carbs.
If you eat carbs in the morning (or really at any time during the day), my suggestion is that they are plant-based. As large as an emphasis that I put on protein and fats, people who eat plant-based diets live longer. Research has shown us this time and time again, with heavy meat-eaters being the least healthy in the long-term.
This doesn’t mean you have to be a vegetarian (I once was and now I eat meat), but being an adult means buckling down and eating some spinach. My recommendation is that half of your plate be full of deliciously, salt-free seasoned, colorful, vitamin-loaded, vegetables.
I would avoid two types of food for breakfast:
I’m including grains mainly because traditional American breakfasts might involve some form of toast, bagel, or biscuit (especially down south). First off, there is no reason to eat grains really ever, but that’s a post for another day. My biggest problem with grains is that they wreak havoc on your hormone, insulin (think of this as your master hormone) which helps dictate what your food is used for throughout the day.
Every kind of carbohydrate you eat is eventually processed into sugar, or glucose, which is a fuel, but really quite toxic at a certain level. These cheap, quickly processed carbohydrates send your insulin levels skyrocketing, only to leave you with a crash later, making it too easy to reach for something like pizza in the afternoon to get that “high” once again.
There is no reason you should not eat fruit (especially in the summer time when it’s in season!) but overconsumption of fruit is not ideal, especially in the morning. Again, we want our hormones to start off on an even keel.
- 2-3 eggs (protein), topped with homemade guacamole (healthy fat), handful of carrots (carb)
- Sausage & Zucchini casserole. This is my favorite on the go breakfast. I usually make it Sunday and heat it up in the morning in the microwave. Nitrate-free sausage and eggs (protein), zucchini, mushrooms, onions (carbs), all cooked with coconut oil (healthy fat). Find that recipe and a lot of others here.
- Egg muffin recipes are classic “on the go” breakfast options, so check out this link for a bunch of different recipes and variations. Feel free to customize and make them your own!