Your tummy is rumbling by the time you get into the office and you’re impatiently waiting for lunchtime. Are you a notorious breakfast skipper?
Canadian nutritionists say breakfast is the most important meal of the day – it provides your body with fuel and revs up your metabolism, setting the tone for your appetite and cravings for the rest of your day.
“Breakfast skippers are more likely to be overweight and miss out on important nutrients like calcium. Research shows that people who skip breakfast tend to eat more calories later in the day. Often these aren’t healthy calories…they’re from snack foods,” warned Christy Brissette, a Toronto-based registered dietitian and president of 80 Twenty Nutrition.
Your breakfast determines your blood sugar levels, fat burning and energy, according to Kirstin Schell, a personal trainer, nutritionist and project manager at Goodlife Fitness. She’s been with the company for 15 years.
“If one starts by consuming lots of sugar in the morning – for example, a bowl of sugary cereal with skim milk – then it will create an energy roller coaster effect with lots of highs and lows,” she explained.
When you’re hungry again after gorging on bacon and white toast, it’s your blood sugar levels spiking and crashing.
Canadians have hectic mornings, but the experts promise that getting breakfast together in the morning isn’t a difficult task. Here’s what they say you should reach for when you’re putting together breakfast.
What makes a healthy breakfast?
A winning breakfast has four parts, according to Brissette and Schell.
- Vegetables and/or fruit.
- Protein – to keep you satisfied and help you eat less later in the day.
- Healthy fats – for extra staying power.
- Whole grains – also known as slow carbs, to give you sustained energy throughout the morning.
Use these four components as building blocks when you’re putting together your breakfast.
Schell says there’s no specific need for a lot of carbohydrates unless you’re taking on physical training or a workout in the morning. If you do eat carbs, reach for the complex options that take longer to digest. They should also be packed with fibre or healthy fats, such as berries or avocados.
So what does a healthy breakfast look like?
The experts gave Global News a list of their favourite options for a healthy morning meal:
- A whole grain wrap or pita filled with a nut butter, such as peanut or almond, and sliced bananas OR arugula and sprouts. For Brissette, this meal “hits all the nutrition notes” – whole grains, proteins, healthy fat and fruit or vegetables.
- Mini frittatas made with eggs, avocado, tomatoes and green peppers. Prepare this meal ahead of time by pouring the egg mixture into muffin tins and bake so they’re ready to eat in the morning.
- Smoothies are quick and easy options. Ingredients thrown into your blender include skim milk or almond milk, a handful of oats, a tablespoon of a nut butter and some Greek yogurt or protein powder, with a handful of greens, such as spinach or kale. Fruits like frozen berries or a banana can be added too.
- Overnight oats can be prepared the night before with a cup of oats, Greek yogurt, frozen berries and chia seeds in a sealed container. By morning, the mixture thaws out, making a parfait.
- Omelettes cook quickly. Mix two whole eggs with mushrooms, asparagus and any other vegetables of your choice, according to Schell.
- Greek yogurt, mixed with two tablespoons of mixed nuts and seeds, a handful of berries and a side of sliced avocado fill your morning needs.
- Protein pancakes Schell whips up in the morning includes one egg, half a cup of pureed squash, 1 teaspoon each of chia, hemp and ground flax, and one scoop of protein powder. Cook the mixture like a pancake and top with a small dollop of nut butter.
Don’t make your smoothies with ice cream, sorbet, or fruit juices and yogurts. Rely on spices like cinnamon to add flavour to your smoothies, oats and pancakes. Processed goods, like muffins, cereal, donuts and breakfast bars shouldn’t be eaten daily.
If you’re constantly strapped for time, pre-package your breakfasts. Smoothie ingredients can be portioned out into bags and frozen so they’re ready to throw into your blender in the morning, frittatas can be cooked ahead of time and oats assembled and refrigerated overnight.
(Graphic created by Earl Aspiras/Global News)
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