What’s for breakfast?
What’s for breakfast – coffee…orange juice…banana?
Most mornings, we barely glance at the kitchen. Fixing breakfast takes up precious time that’s in short supply. But there’s ample evidence that the simple act of eating breakfast — every day — is a big part of losing weight, lots of weight.
“People skip breakfast thinking they’re cutting calories, but by mid-morning and lunch, that person is starved,” says Milton Stokes, RD, MPH, chief dietitian for St. Barnabas Hospital in New York City. “Breakfast skippers replace calories during the day with mindless nibbling, bingeing at lunch and dinner. They set themselves up for failure.”
The Benefits of Breakfast
Eating breakfast is a daily habit for the “successful losers” who belong to The National Weight Control Registry. These people have maintained a 30-pound (or more) weight loss for at least a year, and some as long as six years.
“Most — 78% — reported eating breakfast every day, and almost 90% reported eating breakfast at least five days a week – which suggests that starting the day with breakfast is an important strategy to lose weight and keep it off,” says James O. Hill, PhD, the Registry’s co-founder and director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.
According to many clinical dietitians, your metabolism does increase if you eat breakfast. We want you to eat protein with breakfast to stabilize your blood sugar and help keep your sensation of being full or satisfied longer. People who skip breakfast tend to eat more total calories by day’s end. Typically if you skip breakfast you will over eat later in the day.
You’ve probably heard about how body builders and other athletes take whey protein isolate or whey liquid protein in shakes and other forms to help their bodies build muscle and maintain it. Liquid whey protein found in whey drinks and whey powder is a very easily and quickly absorbed protein. Protein is very critical to muscles — it forms the basic structure, is a major source of energy when muscles contract and is a major part of enzymes in the muscle.
You may have also heard that essential amino acids (found in liquid protein and protein shake powders) help in building and maintaining most organs and hormones. The protein found in protein drinks and protein powder shakes is also necessary for creating hemoglobin and antibodies.
Yes, that’s right. High protein drinks and high protein shakes provide power-packed protein that is one of the best ways for our bodies to get its essential amino acids.
But did you know that protein drinks can help stabilize and regulate your blood sugar levels too? The best way to start doing that today is with a protein source for breakfast.
When your blood sugar levels are stable, your metabolism functions smoothly, you feel satisfied (full) and your brain has what it needs to keep you and your body on your toes. When your blood sugar levels aren’t stable, your body goes into overdrive to fix the problem.
When blood sugar is too high, your body rushes to store blood sugar as fat, leaving your blood sugar low. Then when blood sugar is too low, your brain goes into starvation mode and so do you; all you can think about is food and all your body can “think” about is getting enough sugar (glucose) to the brain and storing whatever extra it gets as fat. And when everything is being stored as fat instead of used as energy, it’s really hard to lose weight.
How does the protein in protein shakes and whey protein drinks stabilize blood sugar levels?
Unstable blood sugar levels usually happen when you eat too many carbs without eating anything else. If carbs are all you have in your system, the carbs are quickly converted to glucose and you get a “sugar rush.” This is intensified in the morning when you haven’t eaten for hours. But if you eat protein (as found in whey protein shakes) and good fats (like flaxseeds or nuts) with your carbs, the conversion of carbs to glucose is slowed down and blood sugar levels remain stable.
In other words, protein acts like a gatekeeper on carb-to-glucose conversion creating a time-release effect.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Your body is extremely hungry after not eating for hours and it needs some good carbs (like cereals, grains and fresh fruits) for the glucose. (Yes, unprocessed carbs are important and good for you!)
If your body gets the carbs/glucose it needs in a nice steady stream (no sugar rush), your body is jump-started and ready for the day:
- your metabolism gets going converting glucose and fat to energy instead of storing your donut or breakfast cereal as fat
- you feel satiated not hungry and are less likely to pig out throughout the day
- your brain gets its glucose so you can concentrate better and think more clearly
To make your breakfast do all these wonderful things for you, you want to make sure you get a protein with your carbs. You can get this with some good eggs and some whole wheat bread or oatmeal, but if you are like many of our clients you do not have time to cook breakfast. If you want a perfect solution to your breakfast try a Meal Replacement Shake. The shakes we promote are researched and designed with a 1:1 ratio of protein to carbohydrate to give you the right balance to keep your body energized and stable. Having protein first thing in the morning ensures that your carbs are time-released, your metabolism gets a kick-start, your body is geared to burn fat rather than store fat, and you feel satisfied not hungry.
Other benefits of having protein in the morning include:
- stable emotions because you are not in a low-energy, low-sugar (hypoglycemic) state
- a boost in your immune system
- no sugar or carb cravings and no need to compulsively overeat
- encouraged bone growth, helping to prevent osteoporosis
- reduced stress and depression due to slowed production of stress hormone cortisol and release of serotonin, a calming brain chemical
After getting your meal replacement shake in the morning, it’s still a good idea to follow this simple rule of thumb for all meals to make sure your body gets what it needs: “A fist, a thumb, and a fist.”
- 4-6 oz (a fist) of lean, complete protein (or a whey protein meal replacement drink)
- a tablespoon (thumb) portion of good fats/oils
- no more than 1 serving (fist) of unprocessed carbs
Remember breakfast is very important if you want to start your day the right way!