Why make time to eat breakfast? Because it makes good fitness sense.
Research indicates that people who regularly eat breakfast may have less body fat and are less likely to overeat during the rest of the day. More importantly, when they lose weight, they tend to keep it off longer.
Two studies in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association support this.
While they were funded by cereal companies, the science has been peer reviewed and seems solid: People who it breakfast have more success with weight loss over the long haul.
If the thought of trying to wrangle up a healthy meal in the morning causes you to shudder, relax. Regardless of your schedule or prowess in the kitchen, try one or more of these five breakfast ideas to get your morning off to a healthy start:
Healthy Breakfast Idea #1: Oatmeal
Oatmeal is a power food that belongs in every healthy pantry.
Inexpensive (a large container of oats will cost you less than $3), loaded with heart-healthy soluble fiber and plenty of complex carbs, oats are one of your best breakfast bets. On their own, they can be bland, but dressed up with cinnamon, a touch of honey, dried or fresh fruit, or even a scoop of whey protein powder, they become something that transcends their humble reputation.
If you don’t care for the consistency, try Scottish Oats (which are grainier and have more texture) or provide a little crunch by adding chopped walnuts, pecans or sliced almonds.
Healthy Breakfast Idea #2: Protein Shakes
Being short on time is no reason to skip breakfast.
Instead of reaching for the Slim Fast (which is expensive and filled with preservatives) or a pre-packaged protein drink, keep a container of 100% whey protein handy (the choice of flavors is yours) and some skim milk in the refrigerator. For a quick and nutritious breakfast, mix one scoop of protein powder with a cup of skim milk.
At 200 calories, 1 gram of fat, 16 grams of carbs and 32 grams of protein a homemade protein shake is a tasty, and healthy start to the day.
Since this is your first meal, don’t be afraid of the carbs. Adding a banana or some berries to the shake can kickstart your day, at a time when the carbs are critical to boosting energy levels.
Healthy Breakfast Idea 3: Cold Cereal
Cold cereal has gotten a bad reputation because the stuff were were raised on as kids was generally made from highly-processed grains with lot of added sugars that can spike your blood-sugar levels and leave you short on energy mid-morning.
But if you avoid the Cap ‘n Crunch and Fruit Loops, there are plenty of healthy options for cold cereal out there.
Consider trying a whole grain cereal like bran flakes, Kashi, or my personal favorite, Ezekiel 4:9 cereal, which is made from organic sprouted grains like wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet and spelt.
Once you get past the Biblical references, this is actually a fantastic cereal that has a complete protein profile (meaning you get all of your essential amino acids in one food, which is unusual with most grains except for soy.)
Ezekiel 4:9 is very crunchy and tastes like Grape-Nuts. It’s a bit plain (although the “malty” flavor is interesting and pleasant), so adding some fresh fruit like bananas or blueberries can make it a delicious choice in the morning.
Healthy Breakfast Idea 4: Eggs
Yes, eggs still reign supreme as a breakfast food.
Loaded with protein and B-vitamins, even whole eggs have a place on a fit person’s breakfast plate. If you are concerned about the fat and cholesterol of whole eggs, consider substituting egg whites for some of the whole eggs.
The whites contain a fair amount of protein, zero fat and no cholesterol. Recent research has indicated that moderate consumption of whole eggs may not have the detrimental impact on serum blood cholesterol levels that we once thought, so most people can safely eat up to two whole eggs a day.
Some research even indicates that people who eat whole eggs for breakfast eat less overall calories during the rest of the day.
The mechanism for this is still unknown, but the theory is that the fats in eggs help satisfy people and stabilize blood-sugar levels.
Poached, hard- or soft-boiled, lightly fried in a non-stick pan or made into a healthy omelette (or egg-white omelette), eggs are a great breakfast choice if you have a few extra minutes.
Healthy Breakfast Idea #5: Waffles
We’re not talking the Belgian kind here with strawberries, loads of syrup and mounds of whipped cream.
Instead, consider one of the Kashi Go Lean waffles, which are higher in fiber and lower in fat. I particularly like this brand of waffles because it doesn’t contain any high-fructose corn syrup, which has been linked to an increased risk of obesity.
Instead of the usual high-fructose corn syrup “syrup” like Mrs. Butter-Worth’s or Log Cabin, try a bit of honey or real maple syrup. And substitute natural peanut butter or almond butter for dairy butter. Add a glass of milk or an egg, and you have a very balanced, high-fiber meal.
So whether it’s healthy waffles, a couple of eggs, a protein shake, oatmeal or cold cereal, by keeping these ingredients and food handy, you can make sure you start off your day the right, and nutritious way.