Breakfast is your first attempt to recharge your batteries after a good night’s sleep, balance blood sugar levels and keep you feeling full to avoid unnecessary snacking until your mid-day meal.
What and when we eat can play a significant role in our metabolism and overall health. Our body converts the calories in food into energy and uses that fuel to survive and function properly.
Eating a morning meal helps activate thermogenesis, or the process of increasing metabolism and burning calories. However, skipping your morning meal can slow your metabolism, disrupt insulin function, and affect your appetite, resulting in poor food choices. In addition, your body may be able to make better use of the calories you eat at breakfast, as research shows that your body’s clock affects metabolic efficiency.
Eating nutrient-rich foods regularly can support your metabolism, shed extra pounds, and prevent certain diseases. This is especially true of breakfast. For example, fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidant plant compounds called polyphenols, which have been linked to better lipid metabolism, lower fat mass and effective weight loss. Just make sure you are eating whole fruit and not just the fruit juice. The fruit juice alone has a big dose of natural sugar without the fiber.
While breakfast can be important, there are some morning foods that can negatively affect your body’s metabolism and potentially lead to health problems.
Below are some foods to avoid (and healthier options) to support a healthy metabolism and promote weight loss.
- SUGARY CEREALS AND PLAIN BAGELS
These high-carbohydrate foods are lacking in fiber, an essential nutrient to help slow blood sugar responses and make you feel full. They can cause blood sugar spikes (and subsequent crashes) that encourage weight gain and increase cravings. Those who follow a diet high in refined grains have higher levels of body fat and inflammation. This goes for these highly refined grain foods at any time of the day, of course, but breakfast is often focused on these types of foods.
What to eat instead: Take fiber-rich whole grains like quinoa, teff, and brown rice. Research shows that switching from refined grains to whole grains increases the resting metabolic rate. This might look like overnight oats or whole grain toast topped with nut butter or smoked salmon for extra protein and healthy fats.
- PANCAKES AND WAFFLES WITH REFINED GRAINS
The best choice here is to move away from traditional buttermilk and packaged versions, which are often high in refined carbohydrates, sugars, and preservatives, and go for the whole grain versions. However, if you stop there, you are missing something your body needs to feel full, protein. A protein-rich breakfast has been shown to aid metabolism and weight loss by increasing energy expenditure and balancing out the satiety hormones. And I know somebody is going to @ me on this, but I never eat bananas, you might as well eat a piece of cake. If you need potassium, eat some veggies instead. Or better yet, drink a MOA superfood pouch.
What to eat instead: Aim for at least 20 grams of protein for breakfast. This could mean pairing a single whole meal or almond flour pancake with cottage cheese or a couple of poached eggs. If you are planning a workout, please make sure to get this protein in you to help keep your muscles healthy! No ladies, you are not going to “bulk up like a dude” just by adding clean protein to your meals.
- MUFFINS AND DOUGHNUTS
Most muffins and donuts are loaded with sugar, refined carbohydrates, and saturated fat. They also tend to be tall, often consuming more calories and sugar than you think. Not only can they increase blood sugar, but excessive sugar consumption leads to inflammation and weight gain.
What to eat instead: If you want to grab a takeaway breakfast (one of the main reasons these baked goods are so popular), now is the time to focus on switching to something higher in fiber. Early breakfast burritos, Greek yogurt with fruit and nuts, oats, and overnight smoothies are great portable options. The key is to make sure you have a source of protein, healthy fats, and slow-digesting carbohydrates. Greek yogurt with nuts is another smart choice (choose individual packs for easy portion control) because many yogurts can be hiding sugar bombs. These added nuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to lower fasting blood sugar levels and improve the “good” HDL cholesterol.
- Fruit Juices
The problem is that fruit juice alone has a big dose of natural sugar without the benefit of fiber. These juices spike your blood sugar, and just make you crave more sugar later as you come off the sugar roller coaster after breakfast.
What to Drink Instead: Water is great for staying hydrated and is important for promoting weight loss. Another option if you prefer a morning remedy is coffee, which can increase metabolism and fat oxidation. However, to keep your coffee from becoming a sugar bomb, take it black or with a little milk (traditional or plant-based unsweetened cow’s milk) and avoid added sweeteners (real or artificial). If plain water is not your think, Elite Fortifying Drink mix is my go-to addition.