Sunday, December 18, 2016

Breakfast 101

Throughout  my entire life I heard, "Breakfast is the most important meal."  When I was on one diet or another, I often skipped breakfast to save calories or points.  When I was fat, I hardly ever ate breakfast, except maybe donuts here or there and on weekends when I made pancakes for the kids.

So, why breakfast?  What's so important about it?  What about bacon?  What about eggs?  And is cereal any good?

I am three years into this fitness journey.  I eat breakfast every day.  I'll explain why later in the post.  During the week, what I eat is pretty standard.  I'll go through phases when I eat the same one or two things every day.  But this is pretty much it:

Breakfast Option 1
2 eggs (either soft boiled or over easy)  Use cooking spray to save on the fat from oiling your pan.
1 slice Arnold Double Protein bread, toasted
Coffee with half & half

Breakfast Option 2
Egg Fritata
Coffee with half & half

Breakfast Option 3
Protein Smoothie made with peanut butter
Coffee with half & half

Breakfast Option 4
1/2 Cup Oatmeal
1 serving fruit (mashed banana, fresh sliced berries, or a peeled, chopped apple)
1 Scoop Protein
Coffee with half & half

Yep, that's it.  Every once in a while, if I'm not feeling well or am super tired, I'll eat a bowl of Kashi Go Lean Crunch cereal with almond milk and call it a day.  (Don't forget the coffee!)

On the weekends, if I am motivated, I might make protein pancakes.  My cousin Jamie introduced me to Kodiak Cakes, with which I am just experimenting.  I'll let you know what I think of them later on.

So, why breakfast?

There is definitely science to the importance of breakfast.  You may or may not have heard the specifics, here they are in a nutshell:  
  •   A healthy breakfast helps to improve concentration and performance throughout the day, 
  •   Provides you with energy, which prevents fatigue.
  •   Promotes overall healthier eating.
If I miss breakfast, I am off for the rest of the day.  Recently I went home sick because I suddenly felt sick and thought I was going to pass out.  What I didn't realize is that my blood sugar crashed.  I was busy and skipped breakfast, had a protein shake mid-morning, which was low in carbohydrates.  (I need carbs!)  After I had it, I became ill.  This doesn't happen every time I skip a meal, but having been obese for so long, I am still prone to pre-diabetic symptoms (hypoglycemia) I had pretty regularly three years ago (like blood sugar dips and spikes).  Lesson for me?  Keep peanut butter crackers in my desk.

I know most people who don't eat breakfast say they don't have the time to fix  or eat breakfast, or they don't want the calories.

A healthy breakfast is worth the calories.  You don't have to have an outrageous breakfast every day.  Two eggs and a slice of whole grain toast is about 260 calories.  In the overall picture of your day, that's a small percent.  As far as the time it takes to make breakfast?  Either make it the night before or have everything ready to make while you are getting ready in the morning.  

When I have a protein shake, I put everything into the cup the night before and throw it on the blender when I am ready to eat it.  It takes seconds.  When fresh berries are out of season, I will throw frozen ones in at the last minute so the shake is frosty.   I make my fritatas the night before.  Even if I have oatmeal, I will put the dry oatmeal into the bowl before I go to bed.  In the morning, I add water, microwave the oatmeal, add fruit and protein powder after cooking the oatmeal.  Done.  I have tried overnight oatmeal, but I don't like it.

Healthy Breakfast Options

What about bacon?  What about eggs?  And is cereal any good?

If you grew up in the 80s, you were told to stay away from eggs.  Eggs are high in cholesterol.  Don't eat eggs.  Well, scientists have revealed that the cholesterol in eggs is not bad for you.  So go ahead and eat your eggs.  My fritatas (a fancy way of saying omelet) are made of egg whites and one egg.  I like the yolk and I need my eggs to be somewhat yellow / orange.

Bacon, on the other hand is a processed meat.  The fat and nitrates are something you should steer away from.  However, a treat once in a while is not a bad thing.  I have turkey bacon on hand, but I hardly ever eat it.  Nitrates are nitrates whether it's pork or turkey.

Cereal is awesome.  I love cereal.  You want to choose cereals that are low in sugar and high in fiber.  My absolutely favorite cereal is Kashi Go Lean Crunch.  I don't tend to eat kids' cereal, although I do love Honey Nut Cheerios.  Just make sure to read the labels.  A bowl of Kashi is higher in calories than a bowl of Cocoa Puffs, but the former is higher in protein and fiber, making it a much better option.

Kashi Go Lean Crunch with 1/2 cup almond milk will satisfy me until my mid-morning yogurt.  It might be higher in calories than Cocoa Puffs, but the protein and fiber are well worth it.
One of the reasons I don't eat cereal every day is I am conscious of my macros and I really need to eat protein at every meal.  Cereal is lower in protein than what I normally eat for breakfast.  This is why I usually add protein powder to my oatmeal.  

Here are a couple good reads about breakfast:

Read more from my series on wellness

Questions for you...
What did you eat for breakfast today?  
Do you have a favorite breakfast recipe you will share with me?  Email it to me today.
Post your comments below.

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