In Friday's post, I explained why healthy breakfast cereals like Wheaties aren't actually healthy.
Of course, this doesn't mean that you have to roll out of bed in the morning, stumble to the fridge, and eat a lonely, boiled egg (with a pinch of salt if you're feeling adventurous).
As a matter of fact, breakfast is actually my favorite food of the day, and the meal I enjoy the most. Later in this post, I'll tell you exactly what I eat for breakfast every morning – but first, allow me to share with you three simple criteria for creating a healthy breakfast that will make Wheaties taste like an old shoelace.
Healthy Breakfast Criteria #1: Choose a carbohydrate that is unrefined and unprocessed. If you're trying to control your blood sugar levels, lose weight, or avoid gluten (read the last post to learn why this may be a good idea for you), then choose a carbohydrate that is not wheat-based.
Options for breakfast carbs include:
-Yogurt (plain yogurt still contains milk sugars, you can add fresh fruit to it, which is better than choosing the overly sweetened flavored yogurt)
-Waffle or Pancake Mix (we use this gluten-free version)
-Sweet Potatoes or Yams
-Gluten-free cereal (I'll give some options later in this post)
I'm a big fan of including carbohydrates with breakfast because your metabolism is typically higher in the morning (due to cortisol release from sunlight) and your liver's storage carbohydrate stores are empty, allowing you to refill your storage carbohydrate without having carbs converted into fat. Many people also exercise in the morning, which means that your body will be less likely to have fluctuating blood sugar and insulin levels from a post-workout, carbohydrate rich breakfast.
However, there are times you would want to leave carbohydrates out of breakfast, including A) you are on a low carb diet (see my book about low carb diets here); B) you ate too much the night before; and C) you plan on eating a high carb meal later in the day.
Healthy Breakfast Criteria #2: Add protein to increase blood levels of amino acids. A constant stream of amino acids surging through your body in the morning will leave you in a better mood, and if you're an active individual, an increased ability to repair any muscle fibers that are beat up from your training.
In the The 4 Hour Body Book, Tim Ferriss recommends high amounts of protein (somewhere around 30 grams) in the morning for fat loss. While this certainly has no research behind it, there is evidence to suggest in this protein dosing study that when it comes to lean muscle adding or maintenance, it is better to have lots of protein all at once than to split it into smaller portions.
Here are some breakfast protein options:
-Eggs (we pick ours up from a local farm – look for a “CSA” in your area as it will get you the highest quality eggs at best prices)
-Ground turkey or beef patties or sausages
-Whey protein (I use organic, cold-pressed Mt. Capra Double Bonded Whey)
-Rice/pea protein mix (I use LivingProtein)
-Yogurt (yes, you can kill two birds with one stone on this one, satisfying carb and protein needs)
-Mix of a nut and a grain (i.e. quinoa with almond butter)
-Amino acid capsules (useful if you're in a rush and only have time to grab a piece of fruit for breakfast)
Healthy Breakfast Criteria #3: Include healthy fats. These will satiate your appetites, and give your body what it needs for cell membranes, hormones, and normal metabolic activity. Steer clear of hydrogenated and processed peanut butters, cream cheeses, or margarines, and instead choose fats like:
-Eggs (yes, eat the yolk – you could fill an entire book with the health properties of egg yolk)
–Nut butter, seeds and nuts
-Butter or ghee
-Yogurt (make that three birds you can take out with this, especially if you choose a yummy version like whole fat Greek Yogurt)
-Oils (accomplished by adding Udo's Oil, extra virgin olive oil, etc.)
So how could you incorporate these three criteria – healthy carb + protein + fat – together into a healthy breakfast?
Here are five breakfast options that will leave you full of energy, and satiated until lunch. Incidentally, the first breakfast is typically what I eat each morning. Because this is such a complete meal, I have breakfast between 8 and 9am, and then usually do not eat again until lunch at 1:30 or 2pm.
Healthy Breakfast Option #1: Hot Cereal – ½-1 cup cooked quinoa or oatmeal with 2-3 heaping scoops protein powder (recommend Mt. Capra Double Bonded Whey or LivingProtein), 2-3 tablespoons coconut milk or whole yogurt, 1-2 tablespoon almond butter, ½ teaspoon cinnamon and 1 sliced banana or handful or raisins or berries.
Optional: substitute Cocochia snack mix for the fruit. If you’re trying to lose fat, leave out the fruit, and if you’re going gluten-free, make sure you choose gluten-free oats. Finally, if you’re trying to lose fat, try to do your workouts on an empty stomach before breakfast.
Healthy Breakfast Option #2: Cold Cereal: Yes, I know I villified cold cereal in my last post, but there are brands out there that are decent. I recently discovered “Choo-It” on a trip to Canada. They ship anywhere for a decent price and have a really impressive and nutrition packed gluten-free cold cereal that goes way beyond “rice and sugar”.
Healthy Breakfast Option #3: Yogurt Parfait – mix 1-1.5 cups whole Greek yogurt with 1-2 handfuls Brazil nuts, 1-2 heaping scoops protein powder, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, and 1 sliced banana or handful or raisins or berries.
Optional: substitute Cocochia snack mix for the fruit. If you find that your stomach is dairy sensitive, try using taking 2 digestive enzymes directly before you eat, which can often completely eliminate dairy issues (link to Caprazymes).
Healthy Breakfast Option #4: Eggs – Fry or scramble 3-4 free range, omega-3 enriched eggs in coconut oil and add tomato slices, spinach, ½-1 avocado, and handful feta cheese. Serve in sprouted whole grain wrap, with sprouted whole grain toast, or with a baked, boiled or fried sweet potato or yam.
Healthy Breakfast Option #5: Green Smoothie – In this Green Smoothie video, hosted by my wife, you’ll learn how to easily make a green smoothie with a blender and fresh ingredients.
If you found this healthy breakfast article helpful, you may also want to check out this article about the 3 Steps To Making A Healthy Lunch, in which I teach you how to design the perfect lunch, and also give you five healthy lunch ideas.
Do you have healthy breakfast recipes of your own to add, or comments, questions or feedback about the choices here? Just leave them below!
Also published on Medium.