Saturday, January 8, 2011
Week 1 -- Fill up with a healthy breakfast
What does the word "breakfast" mean? Quite literally, it means to break a fast. In the morning, your body has been resting (fasting) without food for 7-8 hours. Most of us close our eyes at night, wake up in the morning, and never give a second thought to all that is happening in our bodies "behind the scenes" while we are sleeping. Sleep is the time when our body builds up the immune system's components and repairs the damage caused by pollutants and toxins during the day. During sleep, our body undergoes an anabolic (building up) phase which is the exact opposite of the catabolic (breaking down) phase during the day (1). The anabolic phase builds our body up again to its normal state or condition, repairing muscle, building new bone, healing wounds, calming inflammation, etc. Even at rest the brain is still working hard to run all the organ systems; digestion, respiration, kidney function, immune system, along with others. The brain demands fuel for these activities and will take stored glycogen from muscles and fat.
The average person burns about 60 calories per hour during sleep. So after a good night's rest, that's somewhere in the neighborhood of 400-500 calories! It is VERY important to replenish the depleted energy stores when you wake. Your body is already in a caloric deficit at this point, and it is vital to make those healthy nutrients available as quickly as possible.
Many people skip breakfast, especially if they are watching their waistline. They want to save those calories for later in the day. Also, many people claim they just aren't hungry in the morning or feel nauseous when they eat too early. This is one of the worst mistakes you can make! Studies show that people who eat a balanced breakfast are far more successful at maintaining their weight than those who don't. Women in particular tend to nibble on less nutritious items like toast or a small bagel along with their morning coffee. While temporarily filling, these items are poor choices because they are too carb-heavy, offering nothing in the way of proteins or healthy fats. Carbohydrates convert quickly to sugar causing our blood sugar to rise and fall rapidly and setting us up for more cravings a short while later. It is much better to choose a substantial (350-400 calories) breakfast that is a balanced combination of carbs, proteins, and fat (yes, fat too!) It is especially important to get adequate protein if you are participating in any kind of strength training program. A good rule of thumb for meal planning is 40-50% carbohydrate, 20-30% protein, 20-30% fat.
Here are some ideas for healthy, balanced, filling breakfasts:
1. Oatmeal with fruit and nuts
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats (not quick-cooking oats) (150 cals)
1 cup low fat milk (100 cals)
1/2 banana (40 cals)
1/4 cup blueberries (20 cals)
1/8 cup walnuts-about 7 halves, chopped (90 cals)
Place oats in a large microwave-safe mixing bowl (do not use a cereal bowl, oatmeal will overflow!) Pour about 3/4 cup of milk in the bowl -- save the rest for thinning to desired consistency after cooking. Be sure to drink any extra milk so you can get your full cup with 8 grams of protein. Cook on high for approximately 3-1/2 minutes, more or less depending on your microwave. Sweeten lightly if desired with Truvia, Splenda, sugar or honey (be mindful of extra calories from sugar or honey). Top with fruit and nuts.
This is a nutrition-packed meal which provides 400 calories and 15 grams of protein. This will keep you full for hours!
2. Greek yogurt with natural granola
1 carton 2%-fat Greek yogurt (130 calories)
1/4 cup natural granola (120 calories)
1 piece of fruit (80-100 cals)
Any brand of Greek yogurt is fine, but be sure to choose the plain variety over the flavored. Use a little of your own sweetener if desired. My personal favorite Greek yogurt is Fage (pronounced fay-ah) and it is available at most grocery stores. This has a whopping 17 grams of protein vs. only 5-6 grams in the more popular brands (Yoplait, Dannon). Greek yogurt is definitely an acquired taste; it almost has the consistency of sour cream. Some people choose to thin it out with just a splash of milk. Play around with sweeteners, fruit and granola to get it just the way you like it.
For the granola, again, any brand is fine. Check ingredients carefully and choose the most natural version you can find. Personally, my favorite is Udi's which is available at most specialty grocery stores and online at Udi's Granola.