Monday, 19 August 2013

Eat Beakfast Like a King

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!”

We’ve all heard those sayings at one time or another.  Old wives tales or truth?

Although skipping breakfast may seem a good way to eliminate calories, breakfast skippers tend to weigh more than breakfast eaters. And when people eat a larger-than-normal breakfast, they usually end up eating almost 100 fewer calories by the end of the day.  That is a significant number in a weigh loss effort.  Skipping breakfast in order to lose weight is a big mistake and is counter productive because it actually slows your metabolism and can lead to over eating.

Breakfast has been in the news the last few weeks.  I never thought I would be saying (typing?) those words, but there has been a lot of coverage of a new weight loss study at the Mayo Clinic which proves the importance of eating breakfast.  The 12-week study saw all the participants lose some amount of weight, but the participants who regularly ate a full breakfast lost significantly more weight than the others.

 The Globe and Mail summarized the results and reported, “Compared to the big dinner eaters, women who ate a 700-calorie breakfast and 200-calorie dinner experienced a 2.5-fold greater weight loss (19 pounds versus eight). As well, waist circumference, blood glucose and insulin levels improved to a greater extent in the high calorie breakfast group. Blood triglycerides levels fell 33 per cent in the big breakfast group, but increased in the big dinner group.

The participants who consumed half their daily calorie intake at breakfast reported being less hungry throughout the course of the day, so they were most easily able to stick to their meal plan. Remember Ghrelin, the hunger hormone talked about a few weeks ago? Blood tests done on the participants in the study had lower levels of Grehlin after eating the high-calorie breakfast.  That definitely explains no hunger pangs through the day.

Breakfast is exactly what the name suggests – Break Fast. It’s breaking the fast your body had while you were asleep for 8 hours (or however long you normally do). It is the first meal of the day, usually eaten in the morning (assuming you slept at night). If you’ve got a twisted sleep cycle (perhaps due to working on shift, etc) and you sleep in the afternoons, then your breakfast will be the first meal you have when you wake up. Breakfast does not follow the time of the day, but your sleep cycle, and helps kick-start your metabolism levels for the day, which is crucial to weight loss.

After virtually starving your body for the past 8 to 10 hours your goal should be to start the day with foods that give your body what it needs:  nutrients and energy.  Eating a proper breakfast helps jumpstart your metabolism, which is at its lowest levels after you have been sleeping.  Having your largest meal in the morning ensures that the food energy will be used as you go through your daily tasks.  The alternative is that you eat a large dinner and then do not use up all the food energy before bed.  The excess is then stored by the body – as fat.

So eating a large breakfast can help maintain the level of your metabolism, eliminate through-the-day cravings, lower the levels of Grehlin, lower blood sugar, make the body more efficiently use insulin and prevent belly-bloat, but is it always practical to have a big breakfast?  Personally, some mornings I have enough trouble getting myself motivated enough to brush my teeth and get dressed, much less cook myself a big breakfast.

Some people complain that they simply not hungry in the morning.  If this is true for you, it could be because you are still full from the night before.  If you begin a routine of eating less in the evening you may find that you have more of an appetite when you get up in the morning.

Some people simply do not enjoy breakfast-y type foods.  There is no rule that says you have to have eggs, cereal and toast in the morning.  Breakfast food can be anything.  It can be a sandwich, leftovers from dinner the night before, even vegetables or a salad.

The important thing is to eat something within one hour of getting out of bed, plan on eating more food sometime during they day.  It does not have to be a set “lunch”.  Plan ahead and enjoy healthy snacks that you can eat every couple of hours and then plan on eating less in the evening.

According to registered dietician Leslie Beck ( planning is essential and she recommends including the following in every breakfast.

Power up with protein

Adding protein to breakfast slows digestion and promotes a feeling of fullness throughout the morning. Studies suggest protein-rich solid foods curb appetite better than protein-rich drinks. Breakfast foods high in protein include egg whites, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, regular yogurt, low fat milk, turkey breast, smoked salmon and tofu.

Add healthy carbohydrates

Eating carbohydrate-rich foods such as whole grains and fruit at the morning meal fuels your brain and muscles. Research also suggests that carbohydrate at breakfast is important to help guard against abdominal obesity. Quickly digested carbohydrate foods with a high glycemic index (GI) – e.g. white bread, refined cereals, and pastries – are less effective at promoting weight loss because they spike blood sugar and insulin, which can trigger hunger and inhibit the breakdown of body fat.
Foods with a low GI release sugar more slowly into the bloodstream and don’t produce an outpouring of insulin. Low GI breakfast foods include grainy breads, steel cut and large flake oats, 100 per cent bran cereal, oat bran, apples, citrus fruit, grapes, pears, nuts, milk, yogurt and soy beverages.

Focus on fibre

Include 5 to 10 grams of fibre at breakfast. Like protein, fibre slows digestion and helps keep you feeling full longer after eating. Choose 100 per cent whole-grain breads, breakfast cereals with at least five grams of fibre a serving, and eat whole fruit instead of drinking juice.

Satisfy your sweet tooth

Adding something sweet at breakfast – a square of dark chocolate, a cookie or candy – has been shown to cut sweet cravings later in the day by preventing spikes in serotonin, a feel-good brain chemical.

Keep dinner small

To make dinner the lightest meal of the day, include 3 to 4 ounces of low fat protein such as chicken or turkey breast, lean meat, egg whites or firm tofu. Fill up on plenty of vegetables rather than starchy foods.

This is a great make ahead breakfast you can keep in the fridge for five days.  Breakfast is ready for each morning.   I have tried this recipe and even served it to company once. 

Blueberry and Raspberry Baked Oatmeal


1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, divided
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup maple syrup (I used sugar free)
1 cup milk (I used skim)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2-3 ripe bananas, peeled and sliced
1 cup blueberries or raspberries, fresh or frozen, divided

1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
2. Lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish. In a medium bowl, mix the oats, half of the walnuts, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Stir to combine. In a liquid measuring cup, combine the syrup, milk, egg, butter, and vanilla.
3. Spread the sliced bananas in a single layer over the bottom of the baking dish. Top with half of the berries. Sprinkle the dry oat mixture over the fruit in an even layer. Pour the liquid ingredients evenly over the oats.
4. Sprinkle the remaining nuts and berries over the top. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the top is browned and the oats have set. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

It makes 6 servings.  Nutritional values will change depending on the fruit used.


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