People who start their day on empty are 75 percent more likely to be overweight than regular a.m. eaters. Follow our guide to rethink your morning meal, then start with our eight grab-and-go-favourites.
Despite what your barista says, a jug-sized latte, even with all that milk and sugar, isn’t a meal. “For most busy women, breakfast is based on convenience, which can backfire nutritionally,” says Bonnie Taub-Dix, R.D., author of Read It Before You Eat It. Your brain needs certain nutrients early on for all-day concentration and problem solving.
Anatomy of a Perfect Breakfast
A too-big start can make for a too-big you. Shoot for getting 25 to 30 percent of your daily calories: about 400 if you’re trying to lose, 500 if you’re maintaining or 625 if you’re very active. Here’s the ideal breakdown.
53% carbs: ”During the night, while you sleep, you burn through your stores of blood sugar, which is your body’s preferred fuel source,” says David Grotto, R.D., author of 101 Optimal Life Foods. “Carbohydrates replete these stores quickly.” But simple carbs (muffins, doughnuts, sweetened cereal) are a no-go: They burn fast and trigger crashes and cravings. Instead, opt for complex ones (oatmeal and whole-wheat bread) that are high in hunger-fighting fiber, digest slowly and give you sustained energy.
Your goal: 35 grams to 65 g carbs; 6 g fiber
27% fat: Go for the heart-healthy unsaturated fats found in nut butters or whole nuts, avocado and olive oil. Avoid the saturated fat in butter, bacon and full-fat cheese. Fat digests slowly, preventing those midmorning munchie attacks.
Your goal: 7 g to 15 g fat
20% protein: “Protein makes you feel full longer by turning on and upping levels of natural hunger-busting hormones, like cholecystokinin, and keeping the hunger-inducing hormone ghrelin in check,” Grotto says. You may need to combine multiple sources (e.g., egg whites, nonfat yogurt and skim milk) to get enough.
Your goal: 15 g to 25 g protein
Excuses, No Excuses!
In a recent poll, nearly 30 percent of you said you skip breakfast at least once a week. Eat it!
Cop-Out #1: You’re on a diet. Friendly reminder: Shunning breakfast can lead to weight gain. “It makes you more likely to snack impulsively later,” explains Cindy Moore, R.D., a nutrition consultant inCleveland. But beginning your day with healthful foods helps steady your blood sugar level and regulate hunger hormones, which means you munch less and curb weight creep.
Cop-Out #2: You have zero a.m. appetite. That’s fine. Start small, then. “Your goal should be progress,” says Heather Mangieri, R.D., a spokeswoman for theAcademy ofNutrition and Dietetics. She suggests having a wedge of cheese or a piece of fruit, and building from there over time. “It will reset your internal hunger clock and eventually train your body to want food in the morning.”
Cop-Out #3: You work out first thing. Worried about getting hit with stomach cramps? “It’s true that high-fat, high-protein foods can linger in the gut and bounce around during exercise—not exactly comfy,” Mangieri says. So split up your meal: Have a fast-digesting carb-rich snack such as a banana 30 minutes before the gym; afterward, finish up with some fat and protein to keep your metabolism stoked.
MyFaceMyLife Staff Confessions
We asked the pros for pointers on some of our staff’s a.m. noshes. Lessons learnt:
“I’m eating fresh, like non fat Greek yogurt with fresh mixed fruit, followed by a lemon, water and cinnamon health drink and a green tea to top it off.” —Pamela Frances, Lifestyles Editor.
“Fresh fruits are definitely important, but be careful not to overdo it and sacrifice other key nutrients in the process,” Grotto says. “Francescan round out her meal by adding some protein like eggs, bacon or ham to boost her energy levels”
“I have a cup of blueberries with 1/2 cup vanilla almond milk, melon and green tea.”—Bianca Ortega, Health & Beauty Editor
“Although all of Ortega’s meal ingredients are individually healthful, they’re also dense with carbs and lacking the protein she needs to stay full throughout the morning,” Taub-Dix says. Trading the almond milk and melon for non fat plain Greek yogurt mixed with an ounce of almonds will exchange some carbohydrates for protein and healthy fat that will satisfy long-term.
“I get two whole-wheat pancakes topped with 1/2 cup blueberries, doused in honey.”—Melanie O’Brien, Founder/Editor
“Keep the blueberries, lose one pancake,” Taub-Dix says. And scale back the honey to a drizzle, then add a scoop of low fat ricotta to dial down sugar and pump up calcium. “Ninety percent of women don’t get the 1,000 milligrams of calcium they need daily,” she says. Calcium tells cells to burn fat instead of storing it, and it helps regulate blood pressure. We absorb calcium better in smaller doses than larger ones, so breakfast is a smart time to work in one of three daily servings.
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