Healthy Breakfasts Are A Step In The Right Direction
Healthy breakfasts are the most important meal of the day, and for good reason. While you sleep your metabolism drops to its resting rate as the only demands put on your body are to keep your vital organs functioning...the body is at rest.
When you rise after an eight hour fast you can do one of two things to raise your metabolism: 1) eat breakfast, or 2) exercise.
Eating can cause your metabolism to rise from its sleepy resting metabolic rate. Your body responds to the food source by sending signals to speed rhythmic contractions and secrete digestive juices. As the food enters the stomach the body ungergoes a response called diet-induced thermogenesis. Simply put, your body burns energy in order to digest your food. This is one way to jump-start you metabolism. It's a small jump-start, but a jump-start none the less.
Now think about all that's required of you in the morning: your morning commute, the numerous emails to attend to, the various situations that require your full attention and all the while, your brain is having to make decisions on the spot. Your brain's fuel source is glucose. If you want to be alert and decisive - Eat Your Breakfast!
There are several different types of food you can eat each morning. There are traditional sugar and empty-carb laden breakfasts such as commercial cereals with whole milk, juices loaded with high fructose corn syrup or a glucose/fructose blend, and the all time favourite - bacon, eggs, and toast with butter or margarine.
Take a closer look at the nutrients these typical breakfasts provide:
When you add everything up, it doesn't look like such a great way to start your day. No mattter which combination you choose, you will end up fat, sluggish, and foggy-headed over time. Remember there are also those people considered "skinny-fat" - yes, that's right, even the cereal eaters are adding extra processed ingredients to their meals which will add up over time.
The next time you're in the grocery store, take a look at the ingredients on the side of any cereal box. You'll find some interesting chemicals and lots of hidden sugar - this is not what you should find in a healthy breakfast.
Breakfast should consist of complex carbohydrates for fibre, a protein component, and a healthy fat component.
Here are some healthy breakfast alternatives:
- One hard-boiled egg and fresh cut veggies with hummus
- One serving of yogurt (1% milk fat) with 2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce and one small banana
- One cup of oatmeal (not the instant kind) with 1/2 cup wild blueberries and one cup whole milk
- Three egg-white omelet and one slice of mulit-grain toast with almond butter
- Fruit smoothie made with 1/2 cup plain yogurt, 1/2 cup wild blueberries, one small banana
Here's one additional healthy breakfast that beats them all. I call it the "New You Shake".
In a high powered blender or Vita-Mix, blend the following ingredients:
- 12 almonds with brown skin on
- 1/2 cup frozen wild blueberries
- 1 cup fresh baby spinach (with the blueberries, you won't even taste the spinach)
- 1 medium banana
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 serving of plain yogurt or a probiotic drink
Almonds: provide protein, fibre, calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin E and flavonoids. A protein and fibre component is needed in each meal and adding almonds to your healthy breakfast shake is a quick and easy way to include them. Studies have shown that potassium helps regulate blood pressure and heart function and magnesium benefits your veins and arteries by helping them relax to improve blood flow to all areas of the body. Flavonoids found in almond skins and the powerful antioxidant effects of vitamin E pack a one-two punch while delivering heart healthy benefits.
Blueberries: are rich in phytonutrients, especially polyphenols and flavonoids. Specifically, blueberries contain resveratrol, piceatannol and ptereostilbine. Blueberries help with cell to cell communication in your brain, control blood sugar levels, and help with cancer prevention. Try a cup of blueberries everyday for optimal health benefits.
Spinach: is known as Popeye's favourite food for building muscles, but there's a lot more to it than that. Spinach has an abundance of antioxidants, chlorophyll, B vitamins, vitamin K, minerals, polyphenols, and Coenzyme Q10. Studies have shown that compounds in spinach promote heart health, slow cognitive decline, help reduce inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and asthma, and may also help combat ovarian and prostate cancers.
Tip - spinach is a great base for salads but make sure you add a little olive oil to help your body absorb the carotenoids, vitamin E and vitamin K.
Bananas: provide potassium, B vitamins, tryptophan and fibre to help keep your nervous system calm, balance your moods, and keep your bowels 'regular' - a great addition to any healthy breakfast. Potassium is involved in nerve function, muscle control, and blood pressure. Potassium also works with sodium to maintain the body's water balance. Research has shown that adding bananas to your meal plan a few times a week can reduce your risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.
Cold-Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil: contains healthy monounsaturated fat, vitamin E and an abundance of polyphenols. It's the polyphenols that are behind most of the health benefits. Cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil provides the most benefits as you receive a very high quality olive oil from the first pressing of the olives, where there's an abundance of phytonutrients that have undergone minimal heat processing. Normally it's best to pour a small amount of olive oil on your meals after they have been cooked to preserve the nutrients from damaging heat effects. The only exeption is when you're cooking meat. Using olive oil to cook with or as part of your marinade has a healthful benefit. Cooking meat enhances the formation of carcinogenic heterocyclic amines in the product and studies have shown that olive oil reduces this effect. Other studies have shown that people who follow a Mediterranean diet or who use olive oil regularly in place of other fats have a reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, colon cnacer and asthma. And here comes the best news of all; consuming approximately 2 tbsp of olive oil with your meal helps control blood sugar and helps prevent accumulation of fat around your mid-section. The monounsaturated fat helps increase the breakdown of fat in the fat cells and reduces insulin's ability to block fat breakdown. Go olive power!
Tip - purchase cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil in dark tinted bottles that have been stored away from any heat source as both light and heat will have an adverse effect on the phytonutrients.
Pressed for time in the morning? Don't let that stop you from preparing a healthy breakfast.
- Boil your eggs ahead of time and refrigerate
- Cut your veggies the night before and refrigerate
- Prep your egg-whites the night before and refrigerate (this also gives your spices time to develop)
- Use frozen fruit - thaw 1/2 cup in the refrigerator overnight or run under lukewarm water in the morning
Can't stomach solid food first thing in the morning?
Opt for a fruit smoothie or the New You shake. You can down it in 30 seconds and it's still a healthy breakfast.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Get some food in your system before you leave the house.
Wondering about lunch? Click here for more information on healthy lunches.
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