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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

BREAKFAST: The Second Bite




Let’s take a quick run through the main points I made about breakfast:
·      Eating high Glycemic index/load meals will trigger fat storage response in your body (exception post trained state)
·      Eating high Glycemic index/load breakfast will cause this to happen following your NEXT meal as well- REGARDLESS of its content
·      Start logging what you put in your mouth..especially for breakfast


So you have been logging your food intake, what did you find? Reaching for the boxed cereal and juice for breakfast? Maybe a breakfast bar, fast food drive through or maybe you are skipping it all together? For some reason breakfast is the most challenging meal for a great number of people.  I hear it all the time from my clients: “I don’t know what to eat for breakfast” or “what ELSE can I eat?” I have a hard time not sighing or laughing- especially when this comment comes from someone with whom I have had this conversation a million times previously.  Well, you can eat whatever you want to eat.  But let’s step back and look at why we are eating breakfast and what we are trying to accomplish, maybe that will help us to choose more wisely.

Merriam Webster defines breakfast as the first meal of the day especially when taken in the morning.  Simple enough, right? No rules about what foods MUST be present or ones that must NOT be present. Breakfast literally means to break the fast of night. No rules about what we are trying to accomplish other than that, so I suppose that part is up to us. Ok, so we have to eat something when we get up in order to put a stop to the time we have spent fasting (while sleeping).  If that is all you want to accomplish, then by all means eat whatever you’d like and stop reading right now.  If you would like to continue on your path with health and fitness then we are going to have to set out some other rules or stipulations and you please continue reading.

Reducing body fat (or simply limiting its accumulation), preserving lean tissue (muscle), stabilizing blood sugar levels, and providing energy are only a few of the things we can accomplish with the proper fueling from breakfast.  What will it take to for this to happen? Well, first we will need a protein source as well as some carbohydrates and most likely some fat as well.  Not just any sources of these will do. We want lean protein sources, low Glycemic index/load carbohydrates and healthy fats.  (If you have not read my blog post BREAKFAST What is Yours Doing to YOU? You may want to stop now and gain the knowledge behind these statements) Are there other rules? Not really.  If you get up and exercise first thing in the morning then this may change a little, but let’s start here.

So we could have egg whites, and oatmeal with some almonds and walnuts.  We could have a whey protein shake with some oats, or quinoa with and whole egg and egg whites. What if we had chicken and sweet potato? Whoa! That isn’t breakfast!
Funny, that is the very reaction I get from most people when I make that suggestion.  All very interesting to me as no one seems to have a problem with having steak for breakfast, in fact you can find that on just about every breakfast menu around but mention chicken and all bets are off.  Somehow breakfast is acceptable at any time of the day, but lunch (or dinner) is not considered acceptable for breakfast.  Who made THAT decision?? Remember, as long as it fits in with what we are trying to accomplish it is fair game.  The possibilities are endless, really.  Kind of like Mr. Potato head there are different items (foods) that can be mixed around and put in different places (including breakfast). 

A simple place to start is with a list of lean proteins, low Glycemic index/load carbohydrates and healthy fat sources.  Lean proteins may include: egg whites, plain Greek yogurt, chicken breast, fish, turkey breast, venison, buffalo, certain cuts of red meat and protein powders. Low Glycemic carbohydrates may include: old fashioned oats, yams, sweet potatoes, quinoa, brown rice, black beans, kidney beans, as well as most fruits and vegetables. Healthy fats should be rich in Omega 3’s: wild salmon, halibut, tuna, almonds and walnuts are some common sources.  This is not meant to be an exhaustive list but rather the basics, staples in your food plan if you will. 

So let’s go back to the question of what to have for breakfast. This should be simple enough.  Remember Mr. Potato head and pick something from each list.  So you could come up with egg whites, old-fashioned oats and salmon, or you could have plain Greek yogurt, yams and halibut.  You are probably laughing, but there really isn’t a ‘wrong way’ to combine these foods.  You are laughing because I am challenging your sense of what breakfast is.  Let’s be honest though, chances are pretty good that your rendition of breakfast, the paradigm you subscribe to, hasn’t been doing you any favors.  Right? Boxed cereal, milk, banana and coffee with cream, hmmmm.  What have you got to lose by shifting your paradigm? Oh, that’s right, some body fat.

Wait, stop right there.  I can hear what you are thinking.  You want more variety, right?  I hear it all the time from clients and people in general.  What is this all about?  Variety huh? Do me this favor.  Think about your job, whatever it is you do each day.  What is the end result? Exactly what is it that you are trying to accomplish? Got that? Ok, now tell me how many different ways you can get that done.  Probably not too many, right?  Sure there may be a few, but definitely not thousands of different ways.  What if I told you that there are only a limited number of foods that will help you to reach your goal and that eating foods other than that will NOT get you the results you are looking for.  Do you still want that variety? Is having so much to choose from a good thing?  I can name thousands of different things (read: variety) found in the Breakfast Foods isle in your local grocery store that I would not even THINK about having for breakfast. They definitely won’t get the job done.  Remember what you are trying to accomplish- health and fitness.  This is NOT an exercise to see how many different foods you can eat.

Merriam Webster defines variety as: the quality or state of having different forms or types. Ok, so different forms or types.  So chicken breast could be chicken breast, ground chicken breast, chicken breast burger, baked chicken breast, grilled chicken breast, broiled chicken breast, or boiled chicken breast. Italian seasoned chicken breast, chicken breast with mustard, garlic chicken breast, salt and pepper chicken breast or chicken breast with cinnamon. Wow, look at THAT variety!

Have you ever heard of the book by Dr. Wayne Dyer Change Your Thoughts Change Your Life? Yes, it even applies to your thoughts about food..especially breakfast.  Start now; redefine what breakfast is and what it is comprised of.  I promise you will NOT be disappointed!

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