Hands up if you eat breakfast at least 5 days a week. ??
Now another hand up if you can honestly say you consider your breakfast a healthy one. Note the word healthy because it’s very important.
The general rule if you are trying to lose weight is to eat a “healthy” breakfast. Where things get murky is figuring out what constitutes a healthy breakfast. Is it a well made glass of green smoothie? A bowl of oatmeal with fruit? Some scrambled egg-white and vegetable omelet? All of these options are very healthy and you should be proud of yourself if you are choosing these foods. But, these do not make excellent breakfast choices if you are trying to lose weight and here is why
When I started my weight loss journey , I thought a calorie is a calorie and it doesn’t matter when it’s consumed as long as it’s in the right amount; Boy was I wrong. For the longest time, my weight loss plateaued at around 143 pounds even when I consciously restricted daily caloric consumption. I often skipped breakfast all together so I could have more calories for the rest of my day. This was easy as I often wasn’t hungry at all in the morning. I also noticed that they days I ate breakfast, I was hungrier throughout the day which meant eating more. This must mean that breakfast just didn’t work for me right? wronggggg!
Why Eat Breakfast
While acquiring my nutrition and Clinical weight-loss certificate and writing my cook-book “Lose It Nigerian”, I was taught very early on that not only are calories not created equal, it matters when you consume them especially when trying to lose weight. Breakfast for weightloss should be macro balanced, this means that you should have complex carbohydrate, lean protein and some fat. Aside from the obvious point? being full early in the day will lead to better energy and concentration, breakfast can influence your metabolism.
Your metabolism is what determines how much calories your body burns at rest (without rigorous physical activity). Several factors including genetics, muscle/fat composition, age, gender and overall health affect this number. I personally found that breakfast also plays a role in this. Starting the day off with the right breakfast tells the body to start utilizing energy and burning calories.
Most people often associate the “extra hunger” from eating breakfast with the body burning more calories and consequentially needing more food. This is incorrect. The right choice of breakfast will keep you full for at least 4 hours this means that how quickly you feel hunger after breakfast is directly related to what you eat . For example, a glass of fruit based smoothie eaten as breakfast will lead to a high spike in blood sugar due to high Glycemic Index of most fruit smoothies. This results in a sharp crash in energy levels and ultimately feeling hungry in 1 – 2 hours.
What to Eat
In this day and age, most people are taught that the best health foods are often blended in form of smoothies, it’s extremely important to understand the glycemic implication of consuming fruits in large quantities.
When carbohydrate rich foods are consumed, sugar is released into the blood stream. How quickly sugar is released is the glycemic index while how much sugar is released is the glycemic load.
When high glycemic index foods are consumed, there is a signal to the brain to release insulin. Insulin converts the sugar to fat. Hence, the higher the glycemic index of food, the higher the fat store from said food.
The reduction in blood sugar performed by the insulin will shortly lead to lethargy and hunger . The risk of this type of diet is long run weight gain and possibly type 2 diabetes.
To reduce insulin spike when consuming carbohydrate sugar dense foods like smoothies, you should combine with complex carbohydrate, protein and fat. This will slow down digestion consequently slowing down blood sugar absorption.
Smoothies make for quick and delicious breakfast and can be a quick way to get daily required fruit and vegetable intake. It’s however important that you make the right kinds of smoothies so you don’t sabotage your health or diet.
Tips For Making Healthy Smoothies
- Go low on the fruits especially tropical fruits. A smoothie containing 2-3 servings of fruit is not a healthy smoothie due to the sugar content of most fruits. Choose one fruit and combine with lots of leafy vegetables for added nutrient and fiber
- Make a complete meal out of your smoothie by adding in some complex carbohydrate sources like cooked fonio (acha), oat or millet and serve your smoothie with a side of protein like boiled egg to help keep you fuller longer
- Understand low vs high glycemic load fruits. Tropical fruits like pawpaw, mangoes, pineapples, bananas are typically high GI. Use sparingly
- Smoothie calories are just like other calories, make sure you know what you are drinking
Trying to Eat Well or Lose Weight?
Here are some amazing breakfast combinations to keep you full and supercharge your metabolism
- Oatmeal with 1 serving of fruit and a slice moimoi
- Acha Smoothie with avocado and egg
- Whole egg and vegetable scramble with whole wheat toast
- Boiled unripe plantain with scrambled egg
Although skipping breakfast might not lead to weight gain if you eat within your caloric allowance, eating the right combination of food at breakfast can supercharge your metabolism and lead to more weightloss.
- Do not skip breakfast if you are trying to lose weight
- Eat a balanced meal including protein and complex carbohydrate to keep you fuller longer
- Smoothies make great to go breakfast but they can spiked your blood sugar and lead to fat storage
- For more macro balanced breakfast options, download my healthy eating Nigerian cookbook