Today’s post comes from Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD. Zelman is the Director of Nutrition for WebMD, overseeing diet, nutrition and food information. Among other duties, she serves as Senior Nutrition Correspondent, writes weekly features, columns and newsletters, provides expert editorial review of diet and nutrition articles and covers national meetings. Zelman has extensive media experience, including 12 years as a national spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association (ADA) and currently serves as one of ENC’s Health Professional Advisors.
It is no mystery that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. After hours of fasting, the first meal of the day stokes your metabolism and provides fuel to get you going.
But does it matter what you eat for breakfast? Absolutely, eating a donut is not going to have the same lasting effect as a meal that contains whole grains, fruit, lean protein and/or healthy fats.
Breakfasts that go the distance
A nutritious breakfast needs to include carbohydrates for fuel. Carbs from fruit, whole grains and low fat dairy are among the most healthful options. Choose whole fruits and whole grains that are a good source of fiber to add meal satisfaction and help you make it to lunch without hitting the vending machine.
Pair the smart carbs with lean or low fat protein such as eggs, salmon, low far dairy, nuts, soy or lean meats. Protein aids in satiety and feeling fuller for a longer period of time, especially when consumed with foods rich in fiber and healthy fats.
But to get the real benefits of satiety, you will need to eat more protein than you are used to eating at breakfast.
Pile on the Protein
Some experts believe, when it comes to protein, more is better. Consuming 30 grams protein per meal may be the amount necessary to promote weight loss, change body composition, control appetite and build muscle.
To achieve these benefits of a higher protein diet, breakfast is the most important meal to set up the cascade of metabolic events. Protein balance only lasts three hours after ingestion which is why you need to consume an adequate amount at breakfast and throughout the rest of the day.
Sample 30 g protein breakfast meals:
1. Two poached eggs, one cup nonfat Greek yogurt with ½ cup blueberries and 1 tablespoon almonds.
2. Southwestern omelet with two eggs, ½ cup black bean salsa and 2 tablespoons soft goat cheese and whole grain toast.
3. One cup low fat cottage cheese and ½ cup pineapple.
Start the day out right
A healthy breakfast has the potential to set you up for multiple benefits as long as you power up your plate with plenty of lean, low fat protein at breakfast and do it again at lunch and dinner.
Layman, D and Rodriguez, N. Nutrition Today, Jan/Feb 2009.
Layman, D. Nutrition Metabolism, 2009
Layman, D. Journal American Clinical Nutrition, December 2004