Do I think breakfast is “the most important meal of the day?” ehh.. I think all of our meals and snacks are pretty important. But there are many proven benefits from starting your day with a healthy breakfast. If done right it can kick start your metabolism, get your gastrointestinal tract moving and help regulate hunger levels, energy levels and even your mood. I have many clients who tell me they don’t feel hungry in the morning and try to wait as long as they can to eat something, thinking they’re saving calories. Skipping breakfast usually leads to over eating later in the day whether it’s a large and indulgent lunch and dinner, constant grazing throughout the afternoon or late night snacking. Skipping breakfast is also associated with intense sugar cravings and energy crashes. When a client starts to incorporate breakfast they will find they feel hungry earlier in the day. I tell them that this is not a bad thing, as long as what they’re eating is a healthy option with protein and fiber.
Intense hunger and energy crashes are seen with sugary or high-carb options; donuts, sugary coffee drinks, pastries, bagels, cereals and muffins.
A meal early in the day will get your body moving and needing more fuel- this is a good thing. It means your metabolism is burning calories and your GI tract is moving. Now I might counsel them to pull back on other meals or snacks to keep the calorie balance right but this usually happens pretty naturally. Once a breakfast is incorporated they find they don’t need a huge indulgent lunch, they don’t crave sugar as intensely or have a desire for constant grazing. They also don’t experience an afternoon energy drop like they did before and they notice they feel more focused and attentive to their work. Sometimes a little restructuring can go a long way.
I typically structure my day with a substantial but healthy breakfast and lunch, followed by an afternoon snack and a light dinner. On days that I’m training early in the morning I need a good recovery meal to rebuild muscle fibers and refuel glycogen stores to prepare my body for the next workout. Breakfast also needs to have the right balance of nutrients to help control my hunger levels and get me to lunch. When activity levels are up, appetite tends to increase as well. A well balanced breakfast and substantial lunch helps keep my hunger at bay, my energy levels steady and feeling satisfied with a smaller dinner keeping it light before bed. It’s important to incorporate variety with your nutrition but more important to have meals that you know how to prepare and that you enjoy.
Below are a few of my morning go-to's. They do require a bit of time and prep (but very little). Not having time in the morning is a big excuse I ALWAYS hear for skipping breakfast or grabbing something convenient (and unhealthy). If nutrition is something you value you will make the effort to get up 10-15 minutes earlier to get a good breakfast in. Stick with it for a couple of weeks and it’ll become part of your routine.
If you really need a GRAB & GO kind of breakfast, reach out to me and I’ll send you a few more ideas… hello (certain) protein bars and omelet muffins! Need an ON-THE-GO breakfast?? Not a problem...even Starbucks has some healthy options (white egg and feta wrap.. yumm!)
Green Protein Smoothie.
This is usually my quick go-to. Whatever happens to be in my fridge is usually what goes into the shake. I always have chia seeds and protein powder so I'll just add a handful of fruit, handful of greens, sprinkle of chia seeds, scoop of powder, some ice and a splash of soy or almond milk to a blender and voila! Tip: adding avocado helps make the S-M-O-O-T-H-ie!
Quinoa Protein Pancakes.
This is usually my weekend "treat" because of how tasty it is. It doesn't take much time, 10 minutes total.
2 scrambled eggs, 1 mashed ripe banana, 1/4 cup quinoa, 1 scoop protein powder. Whisk together and cook on a non-stick skillet just like a regular pancake.
Optional: spread a tbsp nut better, sprinkle of cinnamon or crushed walnuts.
2 Eggs Over Easy, Wheat Toast & Berries.
Unless you have high cholesterol or heart health concerns, don't fear eggs! I have some version of this breakfast 2-4x week. When I can I always try to buy organic or farm fresh eggs. It's one of the foods that is really worth spending a little extra to go organic. This meal takes <10 minutes to throw together.
Summer Garden Egg Patty.
This is another egg variation I use often. I almost always have avocado and eggs around. In the summer the tomatoes are so flavorful all you need is a little cracked pepper and sprinkle of salt on top for a refreshing satisfying breakfast. Not to mention it's an easy way to sneak in a serving of veggies! Scramble 2 eggs, cooked in the shape of a patty, smear 1/4 ripe avocado, sliced tomatoes, pepper and salt... good to go!
Berry Walnut Greek Yogurt Parfait.
I'll use this for breakfast or lunch when I need a quick sweet satisfying meal. It really couldn't be any easier. I scoop out an individual container of Greek yogurt, sprinkle crushed walnuts and cinnamon on top, toss on some berries that I always have in the fridge (both at home and work). If you're craving something sweet, you'll be surprised how much fruit or a even flavored Greek yogurt can take the place of a dessert!
Warm Nutty Quinoa Bowl.
Out with the oatmeal in with the quinoa! Higher in protein and fiber, quinoa makes a healthier swap on those chilly mornings. This is my go-to when I need a warm comforting breakfast. I'll scoop 1/2 cup cooked quinoa (usually leftover), splash almond or soy milk, toss in the microwave to warm up, top with nut butter, crushed nuts and sprinkle cinnamon. Another easy meal that takes <10 minutes to throw together.
I hope you enjoyed checking out these morning meals! Give 'em a try and let me know how you like them! Have any ideas, questions or comments? Don't hesitate to reach out. I ALWAYS enjoy hearing from my readers.