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The Perfect Breakfast for Sustainable Healthy Weight, Long-Lasting Energy and Anti-Ageing

by Jacquie Robertson(more info)

listed in food, originally published in issue 211 - January 2014

As a Nutritionist, one of the biggest and most common mistakes I see my female clients make is firstly, skipping breakfast and secondly, not consuming enough protein at their first meal of the day. As cliché as it may be, I truly believe that breakfast really is one of - if not the most - important meal of the day. 

What we eat for breakfast can set us up for how we will eat for the rest of the day. If we start our day off eating poorly, the likelihood of us continuing to eating poorly for the rest of the day is greater. If we start our day off by skipping breakfast, then will also skip out on the essential energy and nourishment it offers us.

Perfect breakfast

After fasting overnight for an average of eight hours, the body requires energy to jump start its metabolism. Our glucose levels are usually lowest first thing in the morning, before we have eaten anything and requires proper nutrition to appropriately raise levels and provide the body with sufficient energy.

The thyroid gland, the master gland that primarily controls metabolism and therefore nearly every cell in our body, is stimulated by eating food within an hour or two of awakening. Eating breakfast on a regular timed basis can support the health of the thyroid gland, maintain optimal function and positively affect the rate at which the body metabolizes fats, carbohydrates and protein.

In other words, the thyroid gland is our fat burning furnace and can contribute, along with many other factors, to whether we will be overweight or thin.

Breakfast means to literately break the fast and rev up the body's metabolic rate. Passing on breakfast can make you irritable, less able to concentrate and focus and cause hormones to become unbalanced, which can in turn can cause fluctuations in weight and for women increase their chance for experiencing PMS.

One of the most appealing benefits of eating breakfast, is that it can actually help the body burn more calories throughout the day. Some studies have shown that people who eat breakfast consume relatively fewer calories throughout the course of the day. Though eating breakfast on a regular basis may not be enough to promote definite weight loss, it is a simple and effective way to maintain a healthy weight.

Reducing Hunger and Sustaining Weight

Eating breakfast may help to reduce hunger later in the day and prevent mid-day sweet cravings and late night binge eating. The premise behind this if the body obtains sufficient calories and proper nutrients at timely intervals throughout the day, it won't need to seek empty calories come 3 pm, a classic time when many of us start to crash and seek a pick-me-up like coffee or something sweet. 

Neglecting breakfast can leave us feeling deprived, ravenous later and more likely to choose pre-packaged, fast food as a quick fix. Processed foods become a simple solution to the onset of a growling tummy and low blood sugar.

Spiking Blood Sugar

When we skip breakfast it can send our blood sugar on a wild roller coaster ride, and interfere with insulin function. Insulin, the hormone responsible for moving glucose (sugar) into cells in order to provide the body with energy, can become resistant over an extended period of time of fasting or skipping meals. This can actually decrease the body's ability to effectively burn calories and increase its ability to store fat and gain weight.

A typical breakfast for the average North American is a bagel and cream cheese, bacon and eggs or milk and cereal with orange juice. These classic breakfast examples are actually the worst of its kind and are so far outdated from what constitutes today as part of a healthy nutritious breakfast.

Slowing Down the Ageing Process

Some research has shown that although we can't completely stop ageing from occurring, we can actually slow down and curb its negative effects through the use of whole foods. Consuming a nutrient dense breakfast can help us to experience renewed energy, radiant glowing skin and reshape our body to look and feel younger than we actually are.

Superfoods such as raw cacao, blueberries and green tea can assist in promoting longevity and offer a natural means to boosting energy, without the stress and negative side effects that coffee can have on the body.

A breakfast loaded with superfoods offer antioxidants, minerals and high fibre, all of which can help the body rejuvenate and regenerate new cells by offsetting free radicals and pulling excess toxins out the body via the liver and bowels.

Why Protein is Essential

Adding protein to our breakfast can make all the difference in the world from feeling fatigued and crashing by mid-morning to sustaining us with long lasting energy until lunch time. Protein keeps us satiated, balances blood sugar levels and may even help to curb sugar cravings. And yet, most women are not consuming enough protein in their daily diet.

The average woman who works in an office and engages in minimal activity, requires at least 30 grams of protein per day. We can also calculate our required protein intake by measuring 0.8 grams of protein per kg of body weight per day.  Athletes, men and people recovering from injury will require more.

Just to put things into perspective, one large hardboiled egg is about 6 grams of protein and half a cup of chickpeas offers approximately 5 grams of protein. It can be a challenge for some people to meet this 30 gram protein minimum, so I encourage my female clients to try  consuming a little protein with each meal to meet their daily quota. This also keeps us to feel full and satisfied at each meal avoid overeating. A breakfast with a solid dose of even 10-12 grams of protein on a consistent daily basis offers an excellent source of energy and can support healthy weight management.

Quick and Easy

My reality, probably much like yours, is that I need something quick and easy to get my day going and satisfy me enough to get through my busy work morning. It was during my hectic school days studying to become a nutritionist, that I discovered the power and efficiency of a liquid breakfast. I know very few people these days who are not living an on-the-go, fast paced lifestyle and who don't require or at least, prefer a fast first meal of the day to get them out the door and ready to face the day that lies ahead.

Smoothies For On-The-Go

Smoothies are a perfect first meal of the day and can provide the energy that many of us require to keep cognitively focused, alert and maintain a healthy weight, especially while enduring our most stressful times.

I prefer the use of plant based protein for smoothies which offer a quality source and sufficient amount of protein (about 8-15 grams per scoop). Plant based proteins including hemp, brown rice and pea contain antioxidants and fibre and are low in saturated fats. Plant based proteins are also more hypo-allergenic and very easy for the body to absorb and assimilate nutrients from.

Over the year, smoothies have become my favourite ultimate fast and easy breakfast and never leave me bored or wanting to skip out on this most critical meal. So here’s the real deal on why smoothies are such a nutritious breakfast and offer ample nourishment, without sacrificing taste.

Health Benefits of Smoothies for Breakfast

1.  Easy to Digest. As liquid nutrition, smoothies offer an easy to digest, easy to absorb by our digestive system in order to assimilate and utilize nutrients. Proper digestion can assist the body in healthy weight management, balancing blood sugar and supporting the ageing process;

2. Pack a Punch. Smoothies are an easy way to get a whole lot of nutrition in one shot. By adding additional nutritional supplements or superfoods including: coconut oil, flax seed, goji berries, cacao, spirulina or chia seeds, you can customize your morning smoothie to meet whatever nutritional needs and health goals you are currently focusing on;

3. Provide Sustainable Energy. These nourishing drinks offer long-lasting energy that can keep both your brain and your body high functioning for a good couple of hours. Ensuring adequate protein in your smoothie (a minimum of 15 grams) will maintain energy levels and keep your tummy satisfied, avoiding morning crash and burns experienced by the classic bagel and coffee breakfast;

4. Take them to Go. These drinks are so easy and so fast, it’s the perfect way to get yourself moving and out the door to start your work day. All you need is 2-3 minutes flat to put together your favourite smoothie recipe and you can be well on your way. Smoothies are portable and can be put in a BPA-free shaker, thermos or bottle to go;

5. They Taste Delicious! Smoothies are a yummy and nutritious treat that you can consume on a daily basis without feeling guilty. There are so many different recipes to try and experiment with in order to keep you satisfied and inspired to eating breakfast on a regular basis. There is no excuse to skip breakfast when you have the convenience and deliciousness of a smoothie on hand.

Pretty in Pink Breakfast Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 frozen banana;
  • 1 Tbsp camu camu powder;
  • 1/2 cup strawberries;
  • 1-2 Tbsp finely ground flax seeds;
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice);
  • 1-2 Tbsp vanilla protein powder;
  • 1 cup ice;

Directions

Combine all ingredients in high-speed blender and puree on high until smooth or desired consistency is achieved.

References

Brazier, Brendan. Whole Foods to Thrive. Toronto: Penguin Group. 2011.

Haas, EM.  Staying Healthy with Nutrition. Berkeley, CA: Celestial Arts. 2006.

Murray, M. and Pizzorno, Joseph.  Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. New York: Three Rivers. 1998.

Vanderhaeghe, R., Lorna & Pettle, Alvin. Sexy Hormones. Massachusetts: Fitzhenry & Whiteside. 2007.

Lipski, Elizabeth. Digestive Wellness. USA: The McGraw-Hill Companies. 2012.

Comments:

  1. Gill Jacobs said..

    A bit worried about shop bought almond milk as its usually only 2% almonds! Paying for water and packaging. I use home made raw milk kefir as the base, and because its fermented you are getting extra benefits. Most of the lactose is predigested by the kefir grains, too.


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About Jacquie Robertson

Jacquie Robertson Ba(H) CNP RNCP/ROHP is a Certified Nutritionist who practises clinical nutrition specializing in anti-ageing, women's health, detoxification and digestive health.  She has had the opportunity to work in some of the best alternative health clinics in Canada including Vitalife Digestive Health Clinic & D'Avignon Digestive Health Centre. She has also travelled across North America working with hundreds of ​physician​s within The ​American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M), formulating customized vitamin supplements for their patients.  She has worked with and learned from some of America's finest physicians & health experts, including Dr Pamela Smith and Suzanne Somers. Jacquie may be contacted on Tel: +1 905-317-1632; info@jacquierobertson.ca  www.jacquierobertson.ca

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