You may know by now that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. But why? Breakfast literally breaks your fast from the night before. Our bodies need nutrition first thing in the morning, ideally within one hour of rising. This meal is critical as it helps fuel the brain and muscles to perform all of our daily functions!
However, the many negative consequences associated with skipping breakfast can also be the result of poor breakfast choices. These include low energy, irritability, weight gain, brain fog and sugar cravings to name a few. So reaching for a box of sugar cereal, white bread or pre-packaged toaster waffles may be just as bad as, or arguably worse, than not eating breakfast at all! These ingredients can be packed with trans fats, GMO ingredients, high fructose corn syrup, preservatives and artificial dyes and flavors. As a rule, whenever purchasing anything that contains more than its original ingredient, be sure to read the label, regardless of the marketing claims on the box. The quality of your breakfast is just as important as the habit of eating it!
6 Reasons to Consume a Balanced Breakfast
- Set The Tone For the Day: This will increase the chances that you will eat well and make wise nutritious choices for the remainder of the day.
- Kick Start Metabolism: Regularly consuming a nutritious breakfast is associated with maintaining a healthy body weight and efficiently burning more calories all day long.
- Stabilize Blood Sugar: A well-balanced breakfast leads to sustained energy and satiety. It helps to reduce appetite and prevent crashes, mood swings and cravings.
- Prevent Overeating: Those who eat breakfast regularly generally consume fewer calories and avoid falling into negative patterns of mindless snacking and “junk” food binges later on.
- Boost Brain Power: Both adults and students who consume proper breakfast are shown to have enhanced concentration, memory, cognitive performance and productivity throughout the day.
- Heart Health: Skipping breakfast increases the risk of heart attack and coronary disease as well as obesity, high blood pressure, and cholesterol.
How to Build a Better Breakfast!
As mentioned before, in addition to actually eating breakfast it is important to choose wholesome ingredients that contain key nutrients such as high-fiber complex carbohydrates, quality proteins and healthy fats. Remember, variety is key to attain adequate nutrition!
Tip 1: Choose High-Fiber Ingredients
Whole grains (and pseudo grains) are complex carbohydrates and packed with fibre, vitamins and minerals. They help provide sustained physical and mental energy for the next few hours. Excellent breakfast choices include millet, quinoa, amaranth, oats, barley, kamut, spelt, buckwheat, etc. Note that soaking and sprouting grains starts their natural growing processes, releasing more available nutrients and increasing their digestibility!
Produce items are also full of vitamins, minerals, fibre, and protective antioxidants. For fruit, try adding fresh berries to yogurt, dried cranberries in homemade granola or pineapple chunks into a smoothie. Choose fruit in moderation and consume them in their whole form in order to retain beneficial fiber. If blood sugar levels are of concern, select low glycemic ingredients or focus more on vegetable intake. For example, you can incorporate shredded carrots to oats, leafy greens into smoothies or peppers, tomatoes, sweet potato, zucchini to various egg-dishes.
BONUS: Flax and chia seeds are both great sources of fiber and make great breakfast additions!
Tip 2: Get Enough Protein & Fats
Adding protein and fats to meals helps to increase satiation, balance blood sugar and boost metabolism. They have an important role in keeping you full longer and preventing cravings. Individual protein needs vary, but certain experts suggest aiming to consume up to 25g of protein at breakfast. While whole grains provide some protein, other great choices include organic, grass-fed dairy products (i.e. greek yogurt or cottage cheese), lean meats or seafood (i.e. smoked salmon) or organic/free-run eggs. Note that nuts and seeds (and their spreads) provide both fat and protein (i.e. hemp, pumpkin seeds, and almonds). Other healthy fat sources include olive oil, avocado, aged raw milk cheeses, grass-fed butter/ghee, or coconut ingredients such as cream, flakes, oil.
BONUS: Consider incorporating a quality protein powder from either whey or plant sources to your breakfast to meet protein requirements with fewer calories. These can easily be added into most recipes such as smoothies, oats or even pancakes!
Tip 3: Boost It With Superfoods!
Increase your breakfast’s nutritional content by adding a scoop of matcha green tea, maca, fermented turmeric, nutritional yeast, cacao powder, cinnamon, berry fruit blends or green food powders (prairie grasses, sea vegetables, leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables). If needing to add some sweetness to your dish, choose raw honey or pure maple syrup in moderation.
BONUS: Don’t forget to take your daily essentials: multivitamin + D3, fish oils and probiotics!
Time Crunch Tips
Prepare smoothie ingredients ahead of time. Pre-cook and freeze homemade whole grain pancakes, waffles, bars or mini egg quiches and breakfast sandwiches/wraps. Make whole grains overnight in a crock-pot for a hot breakfast. Combine rolled oats or chia seeds with milk of choice and desired “extras” in a mason jar overnight for a quick, “grab and go” option.
Examples: Try avocado and tomato slices with boiled eggs on whole grain toast. Blend together banana, chocolate protein, flax and almond butter into a smoothie. Make your own healthy oat/fruit/nut granola or muesli and serve over yogurt. Make cottage cheese pancakes with eggs, oats and cinnamon! Combine sprouted buckwheat with berries, seeds and coconut flakes.
This column is sponsored by Good 'n' Natural in Steinbach.