In the rush of morning, it’s tempting to grab a muffin or a quick bowl of cereal, or even skip breakfast altogether.
Not a good idea.
Failing to give our bodies a nutritionally balanced meal in the morning, one that includes protein paired with complex carbohydrates, affects how we eat the rest of the day.
Simple carbohydrates — those that have little or no fiber content, like white bread and processed cereals — offer a quick boost of energy. But then comes a crash, one that often leaves us feeling hungry before lunch. A simple carbohydrate breakfast with a low protein content won’t stave off hunger, give your brain the energy it needs or help you make better eating choices later in the day.
“Americans tend to eat upside down,” said registered dietitian-nutritionist Donna Duffy, the campus dietitian for the University at Albany Dining Services, saving their protein for later in the day, when their bodies need it most in the morning as they break the fast from the long night.
“Ideally, what we need to do is start our day off with a nutritionally balanced breakfast, because that basically sets the tone for how the body is going to act the rest of the day,” Duffy said. In the evening, when our activity and the need for energy is winding down, a smaller meal is appropriate.
Both Duffy and her colleague, Karen Kettlewell, a registered dietitian and associate executive director of Auxiliary Services at UAlbany, agree that a breakfast rich in lean protein helps to increase how full a person feels, reducing hunger the rest of the day. That’s because it takes the body longer to break down protein, so a person feels fuller longer.
A recent study conducted by University of Missouri-Columbia professor Heather Leidy and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that eating a protein-rich breakfast reduced the brain activity that is responsible for the control of food cravings.
Pairing protein with complex carbohydrates, whose fiber content helps to slow their absorption and thus keeps a person fuller longer, helps prevent sharp spikes and drops in blood sugar levels.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that protein consumption be between 10 and 35 percent of a person’s total daily calories. Duffy and Kettlewell recommend having around 5 grams of lean protein at breakfast, and Kettlewell points out that getting enough protein is not difficult.
Here are their suggestions for quick breakfasts that are protein-rich and include complex carbohydrates:
• One small whole-wheat bagel, 1 ounce reduced-fat cheese or 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter, plus 1 cup fresh fruit (like sliced strawberries). (384 calories, 65 grams carbohydrate, 12.3 grams fiber, 20 grams protein, 6 grams fat, 3 grams saturated fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 654 mg sodium.)
• Whole-grain cereal (1 cup) with 1/2-cup skim or low-fat milk and 1/2-cup fresh fruit (like blueberries). (276 calories, 62 grams carbohydrate, 10 grams fiber, 11 grams protein, 2 grams fat, 0.2 grams saturated fat, 3 mg cholesterol, 424 mg sodium.)
• Breakfast burrito made with 1 whole-wheat tortilla (weighing about 50 grams), 1/2 cup egg substitute scrambled with 1/2 cup assorted cooked vegetables, and 1 ounce of reduced-fat cheese. (304 calories, 32 grams carbohydrate, 6 grams fiber, 25 grams protein, 7 grams fat, 2.5 grams saturated fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 669 mg sodium.)
• Smoothie made with 6 ounces low-fat yogurt blended with 1 cup frozen fruit and 1/2 cup soy milk or low-fat milk. (230 calories, 42 grams carbohydrate, 6.5 grams fiber, 9 grams protein, 4 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 130 mg sodium.)
• Yogurt breakfast parfait made with 6 ounces low-fat yogurt, 1/2-cup fresh chopped fruit and 1/2-cup low-fat granola. (302 calories, 65 grams carbohydrate, 7 grams fiber, 10 grams protein, 4 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 4 mg cholesterol, 170 mg sodium.)
• A higher-fiber granola bar (like Fiber One chewy bars), a banana and 8 ounces low-fat or skim milk. (365 calories, 67 grams carbohydrate, 12 grams fiber, 13.5 grams protein, 7.5 grams fat, 3.6 grams saturated fat, 15 mg cholesterol, and 235 mg sodium.)
The following recipes are courtesy of www.IncredibleEgg.org
Microwave Veggie Nut Coffee Cup Scramble
1 tablespoon water
1/4 c up chopped broccoli
1/4 cup chopped mushrooms
Shredded mozzarella or fontina cheese
Chopped, toasted walnuts
Coat 12-oz. microwave-safe coffee mug with cooking spray. Add egg, water, broccoli and mushrooms; beat until blended. Microwave on high 30 seconds; stir. Microwave until egg is almost set, 30 to 45 seconds longer. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Top with cheese and walnuts.
Calories: 155, Total Fat: 11 g, saturated fat: 3 g, polyunsaturated fat: 5 g, monounsaturated fat: 3 g, cholesterol: 190 mg, sodium: 128 mg, carbohydrates: 4 g, dietary Fiber: 2 g, protein: 11 g, calcium: 109.6 mg, iron: 1.5 mg
Microwave Egg & Cheese Breakfast Burrito
1 flour tortilla (6-inch)
1 tablespoon shredded Mexican cheese blend
1 tablespoon salsa
Line 2-cup microwave-safe cereal bowl with microwave-safe paper towel. Press tortilla into bowl. Break egg into center of tortilla. Beat egg gently with a fork until blended, being careful not to tear tortilla.
Microwave on high 30 seconds; stir. Microwave until egg is almost set, 15 to 30 seconds longer.
Remove tortilla with paper towel liner from bowl to flat surface. Top egg with cheese and salsa. Fold bottom of tortilla over egg, then fold in sides.
Calories: 197, total Fat: 9 g, saturated fat: 4 g, polyunsaturated fat: 1 g, monounsaturated fat: 3 g, cholesterol: 192 mg, sodium: 408 mg, carbohydrates: 17 g, dietary fiber: 1 g, protein: 11 g, calcium: 121 mg, iron: 2 mg.
Microwave Egg & Veggie Breakfast Bowl
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons thinly sliced baby spinach
2 tablespoons chopped mushrooms
Shredded mozzarella cheese
Slice grape or cherry tomatoes
Coat 8-oz. ramekin or custard cup with cooking spray. Add egg, water, spinach and mushrooms; beat until blended.
Microwave on high 30 seconds; stir. Microwave until egg is almost set, 30 to 45 seconds longer.
Top with cheese and tomatoes.