Tuesday, August 7, 2012

How To: Make A Complete Breakfast

In my opinion (along with many others), breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Just look at the name of the meal:


You have gone anywhere from 6-12+ hours without any nourishment. You need to start eating again in order to break the fast and to get your metabolism working again. 

Egg Whites w/ Spinach & Cheese, WW Toast, Grapes, Strawberries

In sanskrit, they refer to agni, which is 'digestive fire.' You must fuel the flames of your digestive fire in order to keep it going. So, everyone who skips any meal is doing themselves a disservice. Plus, this means you get to eat more often! Who doesn't want that?!

Not to be confused with Heartburn

So, what makes a good breakfast?

I genuinely believe that every BODY is different. For some people, they can eat cereal or oatmeal and be completely satisfied for hours.

That's great for them.

However, I am definitely not one of them. If I eat cereal or try to stomach oatmeal, I am hungry in the next hour or so. Why? Because I have found that I personally need a good combination of protein, fat, and carbohydrates in my meals in order to stay satisfied longer. (I am not saying that you can't do this with cereal or oatmeal, it just hasn't worked for my body).

Why does staying satisfied longer matter? Well, let's think about it. If we ate something that will only make us hungry again in an hour or so, we would be eating every couple of hours and at the end of the day that is probably more calories than we actually needed.

Remember, 3500 EXCESS kilocalories = 1 pound of fat gained. 
3500 LESS kilocalories = 1 pound of fat loss.

As a general rule, I like to make my meals roughly 50% carbohydrates or less, then roughly 25% protein and 25% fat. How do you calculate that?

Well, if you want to get all technical and like to be nerdy this is how (if not, then just skip the number crunching):


Let's use the picture above for our calculations-

275 Calories
37 grams of Carbohydrates
4 grams of Fat
26 grams of Protein

As a rule, Carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram, Protein has 4 calories per gram, and Fat has 9 calories per gram.

Take the 37 grams of Carbohydrates and multiply by 4 --> 148 calories
Now, divide 148 by the total number of calories --> 53%

Take the 26 grams of protein and multiply by 4 --> 104 calories
104 calories/275 calories --> 37%

Take the 4 grams of fat (admittedly low for this meal) and multiply by 9 --> 36 calories
36 calories/275 calories --> 13%


What? You don't want to pull out your calculator at every meal? Fine. There is this wonderful app you can use on your phone and/or computer called MyFitnessPal. It is my favorite app that I have used. It will show you a pie chart with percentages of your protein, carbs, and fat. Voila!

Protein Options:
So, what are some other options if you don't like Eggs? (Wait, who doesn't like eggs?!)
Well, if you are a veggie, you can opt for one of Morningstar Farm's options of 'sausage' or other breakfast products.
(*Keeping in mind, that those products are not considered 'fresh' or 'low sodium.' You have to start somewhere!*)


If you aren't veggie, you can go for lean turkey sausage or bacon, such as Jennie-O. (Some brands offer low sodium options!)


(Sorry, I don't consider nut butters to have enough protein to be considered in this section, see the Fat section below.)

Fat Options:
Fat?! Why is everyone so afraid of HEALTHY fats? No, I am not just talking about nut butters. (Can you tell I am tired of this nut butter obsession going around? I'll just stick with my Skippy Natural, thanks.)

You can opt for my favorite: Avocado. Yes, you can incorporate avocado into your breakfast. Be creative! Spread some on toast, cook it with eggs, put it in your smoothie, etc. Check out this post on The Kitchn for some more inspiration.


If avocado is a little out of your budget or not your favorite in the taste/texture department, don't be afraid of a little cheese. (Little being the key word here.) Try no more than 1/8 cup if shredded or for better portion control, check out the light options by Laughing Cow. (Again, if you have high Blood Pressure, etc. watch the sodium in these products!).


Carbohydrate Options:
You know what kind of Carb suggestions I am going to give. Whole grain, whole wheat, etc. Don't limit yourself to just Whole Wheat Toast. Try English Muffins, Whole Wheat (small) Bagels, even Brown Rice!


Fruit and Vegetables:
Yes, I think you need fruits and vegetables at breakfast too, even if it's a small amount. Sneak them into your eggs, your smoothies, etc. Any kind of fresh fruit and vegetables will do! (Or Frozen!).


Ah, my personal life saver. I heart smoothies. I have done several posts on my love for smoothies. My Smoothie Intervention, Breakfast Smoothie, and My ~7 day Green Smoothie Challenge posts are good places to start.


I don't have time to make Breakfast!
BA-LONEY. You have the time for things that are important to you. You just need to make breakfast and your HEALTH important to you.
If preparing it the night before works for you, do it.
If preparing your breakfast and then freezing it works for you, do it.
If you only have time to microwave your eggs with some laughing cow cheese and grab an apple, DO IT.