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Building a Better Breakfast

Mar 01, 2018 07:00AM

By Kelsey Casselbury
An ideal morning meal in just three easy steps

Let’s not talk about whether breakfast is the most important meal of the day (it is)—that’s old news. Instead, let’s talk about how to make your breakfast the best it can possibly be in terms of health. All it takes is three steps: First, protein. Next, fat. Finally, fiber. 1, 2, 3—easy as can be.

Step One

Pick a protein
Even if you’re eating eggs every day, you’re probably not getting enough protein in your morning meal. Experts recommend that you eat 20 to 30 grams of protein at each meal—the average American only get about 13 grams at breakfast. 

It takes some planning to get all that protein onto one plate, but it’s well worth it—a study in the journal Obesity found that a high-protein breakfast (35 grams) decreased hunger throughout the day and helped with weight management. 

Protein options include eggs, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, and nut butters. While breakfast meats like bacon and sausage have protein, they’re not the best choice for daily consumption due to the high concentration of saturated fats. 

Step Two

Add a source of fat
Just because you don’t want to eat a lot of saturated fat, though, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t eat any fat. Research shows that fat consumed in the morning is less likely to be stored than fat eaten in the evening—instead, your body is going to burn that source of energy through daily activities. 

Additionally, fat is an energy-dense nutrient. It contains nine calories per gram versus carbs and protein, both of which have four calories per gram. When you’re calorie counting, these extra calories can be problematic. However, in the morning, those extra calories mean you won’t get hunger pangs an hour after eating. Some healthy fat options pull double-duty as good protein picks—for example, nut butters or eggs—or are also rich in fiber, which we’re talking about next. Fiber-rich fat sources include avocados, one of the healthiest ways to eat fat, chia and flax seeds, and nuts. 

Step Three

Get in Some Fiber
What’s the big deal about fiber anyway? The majority of American adults eat less than half the recommended amount of fiber per day, but that’s to their detriment. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate, meaning it provides your body and brain with glucose—essential for being energized throughout the day—but it’s slow-acting when compared to simple carbohydrates found in sugary cereals or pastries. Your body absorbs it gradually, keeping you alert all morning long. 

If that wasn’t enough, fiber does a whole lot more for your body—it lowers your risk of heart disease and diabetes (but only if you eat enough!), it helps with digestive issues, and it’s known to aid in weight management. Try getting fiber in the form of whole-wheat toast, oatmeal, high-fiber cereal, or fruit. 

Putting It All Together

That’s all you need for a healthy breakfast: protein, fat, and fiber. Of course, you might want to add a little extra flavor in the form of herbs and spices, like dusting cinnamon on your oatmeal or salt and pepper on your eggs! Try out one of these winning combinations:

• Scrambled Eggs, Cheese, and Whole-Wheat Toast
• Oatmeal, Peanut Butter, and Banana
• Whole Greek Yogurt, Raspberries, and Chia Seeds
• Avocado, Over Easy Eggs, and Strawberries
• Peanut Butter, Banana, Whole-Wheat Bread, and a Glass of Milk

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