I know you’ve seen it on like every single food pyramid chart since you were a kid. Super Healthy Sally with her little pigtails is at the table with her “wholesome breakfast.” In front of her is her whole grain cereal, some cut up fruit, and a tall glass of OJ. Well, guess what? Sally is going to be a super cranky biotch by 9 AM. Why? Well, her breakfast was full of sugar and lacking in protein and fats, and she is ’bout to be hungry in a major way.
Breakfast is quite literally the time we “break” our fasting, as we were (hopefully) sleeping for 8 or more hours. If you have small humans, it may take you a few days to accumulate 8 hours of sleep. I get it. Technicalities aside, when you wake, if you reach for empty calorie, sugar-laden food, not only will you not remain satiated for long, but you probably are going to be feeling sleepier than you already are throughout your day. Guess what happens when you get super tired? You want more over-processed carbs.
Instead, we want to stabilize our blood sugar, and kick the day off with some energy. How do we do this? We need some protein, fiber, and fats to help our body better regulate blood sugar.
Let me state a couple things real clearly. There are no “bad” foods or “good” foods. Life isn’t black and white, and your food choices certainly aren’t either. That said, you can fuel your body more optimally and it will greatly enhance how you feel throughout the day. The second thing I want to be very clear about is that I’m not saying to avoid carbs altogether. In fact, you should eat some carbs with your first meal. Your body craves carbs, since your brain runs on glucose, and you’ve been deprived of it all night long. What I am saying is this: always think about how you can include some protein, fiber and some fat in your first meal of the day. You’ll feel better and your body will thank you.
Common breakfast sugar traps and what to try instead:
Greek yogurt that is flavored can be a real sugar trap. Most have upwards of 20g of sugar per serving!
Instead: Try plain Greek yogurt with a teaspoon of honey, a few drops of stevia, and some chopped fruit. Add cinnamon for more blood sugar regulation, chia seeds for some fiber, and a smidge of nuts or seeds.
Cereals and granola often have a lot of sugar, so read the label. And granola can be super calorie dense. Try to stick under 5g of sugar per serving. Cereal in and of itself isn’t a less than ideal breakfast choice depending on the brand and ingredients, but it doesn’t have much protein.
Try instead: Have a bowl of simple ingredient cereal if you like it (I sure do!), but think about eating it alongside a couple slices of turkey bacon, eggs, or another high-protein food. If you are making oats, why not try these Protein Oats? You can even make a really awesome overnight oat jar that you can take on the go.
Traditional waffles and pancakes are made with processed white flour. We couple this with syrup, and our body is in overload if it doesn’t have some protein to help slow the sugar rush.
Try this: Try making higher protein pancakes like these Pumpkin Spice Protein Pancakes or these Oatmeal Yogurt Pancakes. You don’t have to deprive yourself. There are so many healthy options. I also love this version with almond flour.
Muffins rule. On the go breakfast that it full of yum! Store bought muffins often have loads of sugar, preservatives, and don’t do the creation that is a “muffin” justice.
Many smoothies are a real sugar trap. Typically they are made with fruit juice, fruit, and sometimes even have ice cream and things added in if you buy from a smoothie shop. Always read or ask for the ingredients. And those smoothies from grocery store like Naked Juice and Odwalla have like 50+ grams of sugar in many of them.
Instead: Try making your own, so you know exactly what goes into it! Start with your base–greek yogurt and water or almond milk make a great choice. Add some fruit up in that. Then get some veggies in there–spinach is a great, easy-to-incorporate option. Then sneak in some chia seeds, flax meal, or some nuts for healthy fats. I always sneak in a couple scoops of collagen from protein and skin health. You can even prep some smoothie ingredients by partitioning your choice ingredients into freezer bags.
Coffee has numerous benefits. Enjoy a cup or two in the morning, but avoid sugary coffeeshop drinks.
Instead: Ditch the high calorie breakfast sugar trap. Adding a little milk, almond milk or cream is a perfectly fine option. Just try to steer clear of the double frappacino with extra whip. My other piece of advice, buy a good quality coffee. When you coffee itself is quality, you’ll find you need less sweeter to enjoy it.
Other simple high-protein breakfast options:
Veggie omelets rule! You can even do a little prep and chop and saute your veggies the night before. Then all you have to do is cook up some eggs and mix in!
Yeah, it is basic, but avocado toast on some fresh sourdough is pretty amazing. Eat it alongside some sliced tomatoes and a few slices of turkey bacon, and BOOM–from basic to bad ass.
Leftover dinner. I know this sounds weird, and it will be at first, but if you are in a super morning rush, quickly reheat some dinner, and you are probably hitting all those important macros right out of the gate.
Preparation saves lives:
Listen, you don’t need to all out food prep, but having a few go-to breakfast staples that help fuel you will take some of the guess work out of an already chaotic morning routine.
Batch cook. If you are cooking anyway, why not make double? You can freeze leftovers for a quick option.
Find what works for you and gives you energy.