Breakfast – Eat it or Skip It?

Rise and Shine Everyone! 🌞

I am a morning person. Although I love my sleep, once up, I am on the move! There is just something about the new day/new start thing that motivates me. It’s an opportunity to live a day better than the last, to overcome an obstacle or discover something new. It’s not always peaches-n-cream but a new day always has the potential for some sweetness, as long as you are open to ‘tasting’ it.

Part of what I love about mornings, is breakfast! No joke, I often go to bed dreaming about my warm, comforting oatmeal and deliciously hot cup of coffee that I will have the next morning. Lately, however, I have been hearing a lot of people purposely trying to avoid or significantly delay their breakfast in the pursuit of weight loss. I overheard a woman complaining that she was starving and feeling hangry but still had another hour left before she could eat. Her position required her to interact with patients who may be feeling nervous and could use a calm and reassuring presence to make them feel more at ease. Someone who is getting hangry is rarely able to maintain control and soothe others! Plus, she would be in charge of some delicate procedures.  When you’re that hungry and your blood sugar is that low, your hands aren’t always steady, and your focus isn’t always strong. Do you want someone like that working on you?? I think not!

This blog isn’t about the pros and cons of the multiple versions of Intermittent Fasting, because there are both. This article is about listening to your body in the morning to determine how YOU should start YOUR day.

 

WHAT is it that you want?

WHAT is it that your body needs?

WHEN does your body need it?

 

Why eat breakfast?

Breakfast, or ‘breaking fast’ kick-starts your metabolism.  When you are sleeping, your body slows down and conserves energy. Once you wake, your body moves into gear.  Just like your car isn’t going to get you far on an empty tank of gas and old oil, your body isn’t going to run optimally on the reserves.  This first meal provides your brain and body with the nutrients it needs to tackle a busy day and can ‘set the tone’ for how you will eat going forward.  Many studies support the importance of eating breakfast for weight management, blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity, heart health and optimal nutrient balance.  The American Heart Association states,

“Epidemiological studies provide strong evidence of a relation between breakfast skipping and cardiometabolic risk including greater risk of overweight, obesity, metabolic risk profile, diabetes mellitus, CVD and HTN. These risks seem to be independent of differences in diet quality between breakfast eaters and nonconsumers.”

That means that regardless of the quality of food the participants ate overall, those that skipped breakfast were more likely to have the health issues stated above.  Another study of participants in the National Weight Control Registry, looking at long-term weight loss, found that 78% of participants who were able to maintain weight loss for more than 1 year reported eating breakfast daily. These participants were also more physically active in their day, thus burning more calories overall.

What makes breakfast ‘breakfast’?

There is no formal definition of breakfast, making it difficult for food-rule followers to follow. Some studies suggest that eating within an hour of waking will provide the greatest metabolic benefit.  Most dietitians and researchers who support breakfast consumption would agree that there is a significant benefit to consuming breakfast within the first 3 hours of waking.  That leaves a large window for you to still eat intuitively.

For example, I am hungry shortly after waking. My morning routine is a glass of water, a shower and then breakfast.  Once I have eaten, I head back upstairs and finish getting ready.  My Mom on-the-other-hand, enjoys some coffee, gets ready and has her breakfast right before leaving for work or as soon as she gets there.  I would be 🤬 if I waited that long, yet she is 😇. Both of us are eating within 3 hours of waking yet both of us are listening to when our bodies are telling us to eat.

What should breakfast look like?

The Standard American Diet (SAD) has breakfast looking like bagels & cream cheese or pancakes and syrup.  High carbohydrate, low protein sugar spikes that lead us to overeat and then crash. With hours ahead of you, crashing is not ideal! Plus, these breakfasts increase your cravings throughout the day as your brain searches for that sugar high again. Other traditional breakfasts, like cereal with milk, may have better balance of nutrients if you drink the milk with the cereal, but not many of us do that.  Plus, with the tempting sweet versions out there, this can be another sugar trap. Cereal breakfasts also don’t keep you full long, unless you eat multiple portions.  For this reason, I usually wouldn’t recommend cereal as your first meal of the day unless you are opting for a higher protein, higher fiber, lower sugar version.

Breakfast should be balanced like any other meal.  Ideally, it would contain 15-20 grams of protein and be between 200-500 calories (or 15-25% of total daily calories needs). It would also contain fiber, something most people do not get enough of.  As I am not much of a calorie counter, I look at it from a balance and satisfaction perspective.  What is your goal with breakfast and what foods would best get you there, while still tasting good?

Foods containing protein will keep you fuller longer, provide muscle-maintaining amino acids and slow down the digestion of the sugar in the carbohydrates.  Think eggs, Greek yogurt, nut butters or nut powders or quality protein powder.

Whole grain carbs will provide fuel for your brain and muscles.  A higher fiber content (5+grams) will aid in satiety and keep your bowel movements regular.  It also helps manage cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Fruits and vegetables will provide the much-needed vitamins and minerals. Plus, they contribute to your fiber intake.

What if you aren’t a morning person, have a crazy busy morning or just don’t feel like eating?

As I always say, there are obstacles and there are excuses. If you consider these things obstacles to starting your day off strong, in-charge and energized – I CAN HELP. If they are excuses because you just don’t see the value and don’t want to see if this change could benefit you, then this isn’t the area to tackle right now.

Busy mornings are a part of life these days. Even my weekends seem insane! Here are a few ideas that might help

🌞       Make a list of your family’s favorite go-to breakfasts. You can ensure they are always on the shopping list and you won’t have to think much about your choices when your brain is still sluggish. In my house, favorites include oatmeal with nut butter; protein waffles (kids like KODIAK brand) with nut butter spread; protein muffin tops (we use VitaTop protein banana chip); eggs, cheese and whole wheat english muffins.

🌞       Prepare items ahead of time. Overnight oats are delicious.  Or make a batch of crustless egg muffins in cupcake pans, freeze, then defrost in microwave as needed.  Make a large batch of protein pancakes over the weekend and reheat quickly in the morning. Leave the blender and protein powder out before bed.  Or just add milk/milk-alternative to a shaker cup and shake as you run out the door. Buy shelled hard-boiled eggs…open bag and eat.

🌞       If you aren’t very hungry in the morning, or feel slightly nauseous eating at this time, try a small bowl of low-sugar cereal with milk, some fruit and yogurt or a protein shake.  Continue to check-in with your hunger signals mid-morning, however, as you may find you need a snack a few hours later.

🌞       You can also choose non-traditional breakfast foods. Feel like some leftover dinner, go for it!

You have a lot on your plate these days. You are asking a lot of your body and your brain. Give it the best chance to succeed by fueling it from the start!

I can help! Contact me today
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