W hile you may prefer to skip breakfast, starting your day with a nutritious, well-balanced meal can not only give you the energy you need, but it can also help increase your mental focus. Let’s take a look at all the benefits of eating breakfast. We have even rounded up five of the best breakfast foods to help you fuel your day!
If you’re eating food loaded with saturated fats and sugar for breakfast, it’s time to switch it up and give your body what it needs! Food is fuel and if you are starting your day with saturated fats and sugar, you will likely feel groggy and crave those foods all day. Eating a well-balanced breakfast can even prevent you from eating too much, and surprisingly enough, skipping breakfast may be better than eating all of those unhealthy breakfast foods. So, let’s take a look at what you should be eating.
What makes a complete breakfast?
A well-balanced breakfast is a crucial start to anyone’s day, and the simplest way to balance your meals is to eat from the following food groups:
- Protein/Lean Dairy – low in saturated fats – (soy, salmon, chicken, white meat, egg whites, quinoa, nonfat unsweetened dairy, low-fat dairy, or non-dairy)
- Fresh Produce – fruits and/or vegetables, freshly squeezed orange juice
- Unsaturated Fats (avocado, nuts, seeds, olive, vegetable or avocado oil, nut butter, soy, etc.)
- Whole Grains/Starches/Carbs – (beans, yams, whole grain bread, whole-grain cereal, oats, brown rice, etc.)
Essentially, your complete breakfast should include one or more sources of unsaturated fat, a moderate amount of protein, and at least one serving of fruit and/or vegetables. Most importantly, try to include a starch source that is high in fiber. For example, eat a high-fiber cereal such as oatmeal rather than your traditional corn flakes, or try some whole-grain bread rather than your usual white bread. Start with simple substitutions.
Pro Tip: If you aren’t typically hungry in the morning, try to eat something within an hour or two after you wake up to start your metabolism. You can start with something simple like a banana with peanut butter or make a smoothie using lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. You can even add in some seeds, like flax or chia, for some extra fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.
Now that you know what your well-balanced breakfast should look like, let’s talk about which breakfast foods are really the best at fueling your day.
1. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt contains important probiotics and nutrients such as calcium and B vitamins. It also provides double the amount of protein as regular yogurts, so why not make the switch?! Stick with plain greek yogurt rather than the fruit-flavored varieties (which are loaded with added simple sugars!). If plain Greek yogurt is too bland for your palette, add your own flavors with honey, berries, banana slices, a handful of nuts, or a sprinkle of chia or flax seeds, and even granola.
Whatever you prefer, make your breakfast work for you! Just make sure it’s not full of sugar and saturated fats.
Oatmeal – the perfect antioxidant-rich meal to start your day! Instead of your typical sugary Frosted Flakes breakfast cereal, opt for something healthier for your body like oats! Top with cinnamon for a better taste and add fruit as a sweetener. To get the protein need, you could also add in some almonds, nuts, hemp seeds, and granola for a crunch.
Pair it with some whole-grain toast with peanut butter and/or a piece of grapefruit on the side if you need to.
3. Whole Grain Toast
This is where you should really be checking ingredients, especially on your peanut butter and your bread. With peanut butter, it doesn’t matter if it’s creamy, chunky, organic or natural, as long as the only ingredient listed is peanuts (and maybe salt). A lot of peanut butter (including JIF) contains oils, which just adds extra fat and things you don’t need!
As for the bread, check to see that all ingredients are 100 percent whole grain (100 percent whole wheat, 100 percent brown rice flour, etc.). Whole grains are better than refined.
Top your toast with peanut butter and bananas or spread on some avocado. Pair it with some berries or yogurt if you’re still unsatisfied.
4. Veggie Omelette
If you have some extra time in the morning a veggie omelet is a perfect meal! Use a 3:1 ratio of egg whites to egg yolk. While egg whites contain protein and water, the yolk provides important antioxidants and nutrients such as vitamin A, choline, and B vitamins. Getting rid of a few yolks will reduce fat and cholesterol and still give you all the nutrients you need to fuel your day. Add in some sautéed spinach, peppers, tomatoes, and any other vegetable (or beans) you may have lying around to your omelet for more vitamins and nutrients.
If your omelet isn’t satisfying enough, add a piece of grapefruit or whole-grain toast on the side.
5. Fresh Fruit
For those who prefer a lighter breakfast, try a bowl or a cup of fresh fruit with some hard-boiled eggs (also makes for an easy on-the-go breakfast!). Berries are best, as they are packed with antioxidants and fiber, and contain less sugar than most other fruits.
Extras: You can add things like chia, hemp, or flaxseed to your yogurt, oatmeal, and cereal for some added fiber, protein, and fatty acids.
If you’re one to drink juices in the morning, listen up. Unless your juice is freshly squeezed, chances are it’s loaded with sugar. In fact, eating the fruit itself will actually provide more intact fiber and vital nutrients than that sugary beverage you’re so used to.
That’s why we love coffee! Coffee is high in caffeine, which can improve your mood, alertness, and mental performance, and it’s a great way to start your day! Caffeine is also rich in antioxidants and has been shown to increase metabolism and burn fat.
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Remember to always give your body the fuel it needs and stay away from sugars, refined foods, and saturated fats! As long as you have a well-balanced breakfast, your body will be ready to go!