Breakfast has been touted as the most important meal of the day, however, research shows this isn’t actually true. This was simply a marketing claim created by Kellogg in the 1800s to sell their cereals.
My best advice for breakfast is to listen to your body. We are each so different; while your friend might require breakfast to function, you might find you feel sharper and better all-around without it. There is no right way. Just make sure a smaller meal (or no meal at all) in the morning doesn’t equate to overeating later in the day. If you do choose to eat, focus on dietary fat and protein, while downplaying the carbohydrate portion.
Many of us believe that we should eat our carbs in the morning to give us the day to “burn them off.” In reality, it doesn’t work this way for the majority of us. You see, breakfast is the most important meal of the day in which to reduce the carbs. The reason why is because if you eat a high-carb breakfast, you are likely going to experience a blood sugar high with a compensatory low to follow that results in fatigue, brain fog and more carb/sugar cravings later in the day. You’ll be on a roller coaster of sugar highs and lows that doesn’t feel good. Here’s an example: You have a bagel or oatmeal for breakfast, you’re hungry again in three hours and eat whatever is around the office, then hungry for lunch and grab a sandwich, chips and apple, which results in more hunger and an energy slump around 3 p.m., where you go for a coffee and chocolate bar, then find yourself starving when you get home and snack on your kid’s or grandkid’s goldfish until dinner. And after dinner? Probably some more hunger. All day has been on onslaught of carbs which wreaks havoc on your blood sugar, causing inflammation, hunger, cravings and for a lot of us, weight gain.
Life doesn’t have to be this way. You don’t have to be hungry like this every three to four hours. This isn’t normal, but we think it is because of the way we’ve been told to eat. But there is another way. A way where you don’t feel hungry, yet in control of your food choices. There’s a way where you can be liberated from food, where you can age regress a decade in how you look and feel just by what you put in your mouth. And, it starts with this first meal of the day.
I do want you to understand that carbs aren’t evil. They aren’t something that need to be avoided. You don’t have to be “keto,” “carnivore” or count calories like an expert bookkeeper. Carbs simply have the most profound impact on how we metabolize all other nutrients, so we need to talk about them and be aware of their magical powers and significant influence.
A real “breakfast of champions” might look like:
An egg omelet. Add some non-starchy vegetables, cheese if tolerated or maybe even a little uncured bacon.
If you’re in a hurry, a few sauteed or scrambled eggs topped with salsa, or some extra virgin olive oil and salt.
Some full fat plain Greek yogurt with a sprinkling of berries and maybe some nuts and seeds.
A protein shake that has some kind of dietary fat in it like cream, coconut milk, MCT oil or avocado oil. Consider adding a little frozen spinach, a few berries, and/or ice before blending.
French toast, pancakes, bagels or waffles topped with fruit.
Raisin bran (or any hot/cold cereal) with skim milk and a banana.
Fruit flavored yogurt topped with granola and fruit.
Coffee drinks made with cow’s milk (naturally high in sugar) or sweetened dairy-free options.
These breakfasts have very little protein and dietary fat and are laden with sugar, probably around 20 teaspoons’ worth in each option.
As for beverages, stick with water, tea or coffee with real cream. If you’re a juice drinker, consider letting it go. Juice is really just another source of sugar. You can get the vitamins and minerals you need from real, whole foods instead.
I challenge you to experiment with these suggestions, and to question our current dietary guidelines because they don’t suit the majority of us. This is a part of the reason why achieving weight loss and wellness can be so complicated. But the great news is that it’s possible to maintain a healthy weight, a body without significant inflammation, and establish clear hunger and full signals without a ton of exercise and with deliciously satisfying food!
Ashley Lucas has a doctorate in sports nutrition and chronic disease. She is also a registered dietitian nutritionist. She is the founder and owner of PHD Weight Loss and Nutrition, offering weight management and wellness services in the Four Corners. She can be reached at 764-4133.