We hear about how important breakfast is all. the. time. But what we don’t hear is WHAT we should be eating for breakfast. And unfortunately some of the most common breakfast foods are the worst things to be filling yourself with first thing in the day. Think of the typical American breakfast foods that get eaten during the week: bagels, muffins, cereal, toast, juice, donuts even. Basically all carbs, and not even low glycemic index carbs. I’m certainly not saying you can’t have any carbohydrates as part of your breakfast, but mostly carb is too much carb! These foods can cause a rapid rise in blood sugar followed by a drop, which can leave you feeling hungry and tired mid-morning, and have you reaching for unhealthy snacks only to have another rapid rise and fall of blood sugar, maybe skip lunch and end up with that afternoon slump in energy. For kids, having this type of breakfast can make it harder for them to concentrate in school because of blood sugar fluctuations. Long-term this habit can lead to issues with glucose regulation and elevated insulin levels, which opens the floodgates for chronic disease.
So what should you be eating? At least 15 g of protein should be a priority for your morning meal. Having this amount of protein in the morning can help maintain your energy throughout the day and give you more stable blood sugar during the morning. Studies have shown that even including protein with meals that contain glucose can lessen the extent to which blood sugar rises, so imagine without the glucose consumption! So few patients I talk to are getting enough protein in the morning. The biggest obstacle (besides what we think of as breakfast foods), seems to be time. In the morning, we tend to be on a time crunch, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get our protein in. There are simple ways to get a quick breakfast that will include protein. Below I’ve given some examples of quick breakfast ideas that will have you loving breakfast and experiencing improved energy and focus:
The perfect hard boiled eggs:
Place eggs in cool water in a saucepan and place on stove-top on high heat.
Once water reaches boiling, allow to boil for one minute.
Remove from heat and leave eggs in the hot water for 12 minutes.
Removed eggs from water and put them in the fridge until you’re ready to eat.
Boiled eggs are a great food to have prepared and ready when you need to reach for something quick. Consider grabbing a low glycemic index fruit, such as an apple to round out your breakfast (an apple with almond butter would be even better to increase your protein!)
Protein in 2 eggs: 12 g
You can use a powdered shake, or blend up your own creation the night before. I often use Greek yogurt as a protein source in my smoothies and sometimes also add almonds or almond butter.
Mini egg frittatas:
This is a fun option because you can change it up every time you make them. Plus you get in some veggies early in the day, which can be a challenge for many people.
Chop up your favorite vegetables and put them in muffin tins (ideas: onion, bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, leak, spinach…)
Scramble your eggs (8 eggs does about 6 muffins) and add them to the muffin tins
Bake at 350 until firm.
Store in the fridge and re-heat for a quick breakfast
Breakfast turkey or chicken sausages can be a good way to add protein to breakfast.
If you enjoy oatmeal in the morning, decreasing the amount of oats to 1/3 cup uncooked and adding protein can help to balance your breakfast macro-nutrients. This could mean mixing in almond butter, adding nuts such as walnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, or adding seeds.
There are so many more options for adding protein in the morning, but these are some of my more “breakfast-y” ideas. Don’t be afraid of eating a typically non-breakfast food first thing in the day. Leftovers can be a great way to have an easy first meal that includes protein. So join us on the breakfast protein train! It’s easier than you think and it can make such a huge difference.
Written By: Sally Machin, ND