Most people I talk with don’t eat breakfast. The majority of them tell me they are not hungry in the morning or just don’t have enough time to make anything. With four kids, and me getting ready for work, I understand the morning struggle is real. I also know that having a healthy breakfast can set you up to have a better day. It gives your body the fuel it needs to do whatever it is you are rushing off to do in the morning. And starting your day with a healthy breakfast can help you make healthier choices throughout the day. Making breakfast work for you takes a little bit of planning so that you can have food that you like available. What’s great, is that there are lots of options for grab and go foods that can be taken out the door and eaten in the car or at work. Which means the excuse of “I don’t have time” no longer applies. You have time for the things you make a priority. And breakfast should be a priority. Take care of yourself by starting your day out with some healthy fuel.
What makes up a healthy breakfast?
Carbs + protein = a powerful start to your day.
Add a vegetable and/or fruit, and you have a full, balanced meal!
Carbs give you energy. Carbs will get broken down into glucose and will give your body energy to start the day. Try to pick whole grains, fruits and/or vegetables for your carb sources. These whole foods also contain fiber and nutrients to help keep your body healthy. Stay away from high fat and high sugar options (like doughnuts and pastries).
Protein helps keep the energy burning longer. Protein takes longer to digest. This means it slow down how fast carbs are digested, thus giving you longer lasting energy. Go for lean proteins like yogurt, eggs, nuts, seeds, and lean breakfast meats like turkey sausage. Stay away from high fat breakfast meats like bacon and regular sausage.
Fruits and vegetables are packed with many nutrients that keep our body healthy. Getting at least 5 servings per day (2 fruit and 3 vegetable) is a good starting point. Making sure to include fruits or vegetables in all your meals and snacks is a great way to make sure you are getting your servings.
Your breakfast plan
To have a good breakfast, it needs to be planned into your morning routine and made into a habit. I tell people to have at least 3 options: a cook at home option, a grab-and-go option, and back-up plan for the mornings you forget or don’t have time. Here are five balanced breakfast ideas for each of plans.
Cook at home
These ideas are for when you have enough time to cook something at home. Most of these only take a few minutes to make.
- Omelet made with veggies and a slice of whole wheat toast
- Oatmeal with nut butter and fruit on top or on the side
- Breakfast sandwich on a whole grain English muffin with a glass of orange juice
- Breakfast tacos on corn tortillas with eggs, cheese and salsa
- Smoothie. Be sure to include a protein source (examples: Greek yogurt, nut butter, milk, protein powder). You can add veggies and oats into this as well if you wanted to
Grab and Go
These are ready to grab and take out the door. If you have things ready ahead of time, it’s easy just to throw it in your bag on the way out of the house.
- Yogurt, granola, and a piece of fruit.
- Made-ahead and frozen (or store bought frozen) breakfast burrito
- Overnight oats
- Pre-made muffins, oatmeal cups or breakfast cookies with pre-cooked hard boiled egg and fruit
- Mini crustless egg and veggie Quiché with whole grain granola bar
Backup plan (at the office or in the car)
This is shelf stable food you have stored wherever you are in the morning so that you can throw something together when you get there.
- Protein bar and a fruit cup or fruit/veggie squeeze pouch
- Nut and fruit trail mix
- Instant oatmeal cups with added peanut butter with a fruit cup or fruit/veggie squeeze pouch
- Packaged protein shake with a fruit cup or fruit/veggie squeeze pouch
- Bring an apple or banana and eat it with nut butter (stored at work)
- If you have a fridge or freezer available for storage, you could do some of the grab and go items above and store them at work. Bring some on Monday and make sure you use them up during the week!
Do I need to eat right when I wake up?
No, you don’t have to eat right away. Eating within two hours of rising, if you aren’t doing any exercise, is sufficient. If you plan to exercise, try to have a little something before you go, and/or make sure to eat right after you finish.
When I don’t eat breakfast, I don’t have to eat that much during the day. When I eat breakfast, I feel like I’m hungry all day, why is that?
When you wake up in the morning, your glycogen stores are low. Glycogen is how glucose is stored. Glucose what your cells use for energy all the time. When you don’t eat in the morning, your body doesn’t get any more fuel to replenish glycogen stores, but it still needs to function. It accommodates by slowing down your metabolism so you are not burning through your fuel as fast. You are also less likely to get hunger signals because of this. Thus, when you don’t eat, you don’t feel as hungry. When you do eat breakfast, your body has energy coming in and can function full steam ahead! You then get more hunger signals because your metabolism is running as normal. You are supposed to be hungry and eat every 2-4 hours. This is normal and healthy.
I am not very hungry in the morning, should I still eat?
First, I would ask, are you are drinking caffeine first thing in the morning? If so, caffeine suppresses your appetite. Try to eat before you drink your first cup of joe if it prevents you from eating in the morning. If you don’t drink coffee, and still don’t feel hungry, I still suggest you at least eat something small. All bodies need energy in the morning.
If you want help planning out breakfast options, I can help you! Together we can find the best plan that works for you! Feel free to email me with questions or to set up an appointment. lrobinson (at) clubworx.net
Lisa Robinson-Mihiar, RDN, LD
Dietitian at ClubWorx
Have a question you want Lisa to answer on the blog? Send your questions and ideas to Lisa at lrobinson (at) clubworx.net