Whether you’re looking to lose weight, maintain the weight you have lost, or just looking to be healthier, the importance of breakfast can’t be stressed enough. Not only do you get your day off to a good start by revving up your metabolism, you also have the opportunity to get your day started right with many of the nutrients you need each day. Of course when it comes to breakfast, not all foods are a good choice. Foods packed with added sugars and those artery clogging saturated fats may do more harm than good when setting you up for a productive day at work, school, or even play.
Here are 5 must-haves for a fabulous breakfast that lets you put your best foot forward:
- Fiber– Not only does fiber help to regulate bowel function and may help lower blood cholesterol levels, it also does wonders to help you keep a full and satisfied feeling. This means you are better able to pass up early morning temptations that pass your way shortly after that first meal. A mid-morning snack is not a bad idea, but you won’t be starving by the time that rolls around.
- Protein– This also helps to keep you feeling full a little longer, so including a protein containing food is a great way to help curb those early morning hunger pangs. Another benefit is that you are well on your way to getting protein that you need each day. It is not uncommon to eat more protein than you need, but getting some in early in the day may prevent you from overeating those proteins high in saturated fat at later meals in the day.
- Calcium– Here is another nutrient to not overlook at breakfast time. Calcium is essential to bone health, but there are also studies out there linking calcium (and dairy) to weight loss.1,2,3 While dairy products are a great source for calcium, and easy to get in at breakfast time, there are other sources of calcium out there. If you don’t or can’t eat dairy, there are other breakfast friendly substitutes, like soymilk (just make sure to check the label to see if it is calcium fortified), tofu (prepared with calcium), soybeans and many green veggies.
- Vitamin C– This water-soluble vitamin leaves the human body more quickly than others, and it is important to make sure you get enough vitamin C each day. Other nutrients can be stored up, but not this one. It is definitely not a nutrient to be overlooked in the diet, and breakfast time is a great place to add in a vitamin C rich fruit or vegetable. If you are going to try out grapefruit, just double check that you aren’t taking any medications that may interact with it.
- Heart Healthy Fat– Not all fats are created equally. Some may clog the arteries, while others have a protective effect on your heart health. Plus, this is another one of those nutrients that helps you keep that full feeling a little longer. Another benefit to adding this in is that you get a head start on your intake of monounsaturated (heart healthy) fats for the day.
Here are some examples to get you started, but there are plenty of other good breakfast combinations that work to give you all 5 of these nutrients at the same time.
- ½ cup cooked oatmeal (plain, not flavored, no added sugar), 1 tbsp almond butter, 4-6 oz Greek yogurt with strawberries
- 1 egg+1 egg white omelet with spinach and ½ oz cheese, such as feta (cooked with non-stick spray or a little olive oil, no butter), 1 slice 100% whole grain bread with ¼ of an avocado, 1 orange
- If you are vegan, try a tofu scramble with spinach, broccoli and red pepper, 1 slice 100% whole grain bread, 1 kiwi
Don’t like “breakfast” foods? No problem, eating other foods at the typical breakfast time works all the same, as long as you are picking the right nutrients to fuel your day in the best way possible. The key is really to eat something that packs a good nutritional punch, so to speak. A good start to your day means a better chance of staying on track and reaching your weight loss or general health goals.
- Zemel MB, Thompson W, Milstead A, Morris K, Campbell P. Calcium and dairy acceleration of weight and fat loss during energy restriction in obese adults. Obesity Research. 2004; 12(4):582-590.
- Manios Y, Moschonis G, Koutsikas K, Papoutsou S, Petraki I, Bellou E, Naoumi A, Kostea, S Tanagra S. Changes in body composition following a dietary and lifestyle intervention trial: The postmenopausal health study. Maturitas. 2009; 62(1): 58-65.
- Cummings NK, James AP, Soares MJ. The acute effects of different sources of dietary calcium on postprandial energy metabolism. British Journal of Nutrition 2006;96:138-144.