While at a talk I was giving last weekend there was a recurring subject, breakfast. The panel was unanimous in agreeing on the importance of breakfast, but way too many of you still insist on skipping this fundamental meal. If you are on an exercise plan then this is most certainly worth reading.
What you eat after rolling out of bed has the power to banish cravings, turbo-charge energy, and keep your waistline in check. Those of you that eat breakfast are 12% healthier throughout the day. Skipping breakfast makes you more likely to overindulge at your next meal or eat mid-morning snacks that are high in calories and sugar to ward off hunger until lunch, Gala anyone?
If the morning is your time to exercise then you especially need to eat. When you wake up, blood sugar levels and carb stores are way down, breakfast provides what your brain needs to feel alert and what your muscles need to perform at their best, so you feel zippy on the treadmill instead of fatigued. Don’t reach for just any cereal or oatmeal, though. Different morning routines call for different morning meals. Whether you’re trying to drop 10 pounds or rip through a morning Zumba class, one of these yummy, satisfying breakfast ideas will start your day on a high note.
The Best Breakfast If You….Strength Train In The Morning
Make muscle-building protein a priority. Combine 1/4 cup each granola, rolled oats, chopped almonds, raisins or dried cranberries with low-fat milk. (Feel free to eat half and save the rest for tomorrow, depending on your calorie needs.) After you leave the gym, aim for another 20 grams of protein, as studies show this is ideal for kick-starting the muscle-repair process. Try 6 ounces of fat-free or low-fat cheese, a cup of fat-free or low-fat Greek yogurt, or 3 ounces of sliced roast beef or roasted chicken.
The Best Breakfast If You….Are Trying To Lose Weight
Repeat after us: A grande skinny caramel macchiato is not a breakfast. For the same wake-you-up buzz of caffeine and healthful antioxidants and no calories, have green tea. Then make one or two eggs – the whole thing, not just the whites since more than half of the fill-you-up protein is in the yolk – with a piece of fruit such as an apple or a cup of raspberries. This all clocks in between 135 to 240 calories and has 7 to 14 grams of protein and 4.5 to 8 grams of fiber to provide staying power until lunch.
The Best Breakfast If You….Still Feel Full From Dinner
First things first: Eat! That will keep your metabolism going. Nibble on something light within an hour of waking up such as a piece of fruit. And next time push back dinnertime. Eating two to three hours before going to sleep, including snacks, will give your body ample time to digest everything before morning.
The Best Breakfast If You….Do Cardio In The Morning
Your muscles run on carbs as their main source of fuel when your heart’s pumping while you run, HIIT, or sweat on an elliptical, so eat an hour before your exercise to boost energy and allow your body time to break down your meal. Swirl fat-free or low-fat yogurt into oatmeal and top with fresh fruit or raisins. (if you have less time, a fruit and milk or yogurt smoothie wins points for easy digestibility.)
Post-workout, enjoy a mix of carbs to replenish glycogen stores and protein to maximize muscle repair, ideally within 30 minutes of your cool down, this is the prime time when muscles are like a sponge, absorbing all those powerhouse nutrients. A 100-calorie whole-wheat sandwich, spread with a thin layer of peanut butter and topped with a bit of honey or jelly is an easy choice.
The Best Breakfast If You….Will Have A Late Lunch
Slow-digesting fiber and protein are your best friends when you want to quash stomach rumblings. Shoot for 7 to 10 grams of fiber and 15 to 20 grams of protein, which can deliciously be reached with a pseudo-parfait of a cup of fat-free or low-fat Greek yogurt, a serving of high-fiber cereal (look for those that pack at least five grams per serving), and fresh or frozen blueberries.
The Best Breakfast If You….Can’t Stomach A Lot Of Food
The last thing you want is something that sits like a rock in your gut, so an easy-to-digest smoothie is the way to go. Keep it healthy by blending frozen fruit and milk or a non-dairy alternative. Or buy a bottled one that contains less than 30 grams of sugar per serving and protein to slow the rate at which your body absorbs that sugar and keep you fuller longer. Either way, sip slowly through the morning for a dose of important vitamins and minerals.
The Best Breakfast If You….Are On The Go
If you are too busy to prepare breakfast in the morning, prepare the night before. Either a sandwich or something you can throw in the microwave.
Now keep in mind that these tips are effective on their own, but combining this with healthy habits is where change really comes. Let me give you some examples.
Get More Sleep
Believe it or not, sleeping, dieting and training are equally important when it comes to sculpting a set of abs. No matter how many calories you cut or miles you log, it won’t get you anywhere near your goal unless you’re also getting enough sleep. In fact, losing a mere hour of shut-eye over the course of three days has been shown to negatively impact the body’s hunger hormone, ghrelin, increasing the number of calories you’re bound to consume each day.
When you down a drink, be it beer, wine or liquor, your body has to break down the alcohol before it can process all the other food in your system. This slows down the metabolic process. What’s more, research suggests that consuming just half a drink can significantly increase appetite and the number of calories you subsequently consume, even if you still feel stone-cold sober. The bottom line: Ditch the booze.
Despite what you may have heard, lifting heavy, challenging weights won’t make you bulky. It will, however, challenge your muscles, increase metabolism, and help you stay lean for life. Fitness experts agree that lifting heavy can help you get great abs. If you’re doing more than ten reps with ease, your weight probably isn’t heavy enough, so vary your reps and consistently increase the amount you’re lifting,
Good luck out there.