Apparently September was Better Breakfast Month. Who knew? Just so you don’t get caught off guard, November is listed as the month for Pancreatic Cancer Awareness, National Novel Writing, Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness and National Homeless Youth. If you can write a novel about a homeless youth suffering from pancreatic cancer which gets misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s (wacky hijinks ensue!) then you’ll have all your bases covered. See, I’m good for something!
Anyhow, not being idiots nor living under a rock, you all know by now that eating a hearty breakfast is one of the biggest health tips out there. However, new research offers some ways to tweak the meal to make it even better.
First surprise of the day comes to us via a Venezuelan study: Eat More! Dieters in this study ate half of their 1200 daily alotted calories for breakfast. The result was more weight lost and more weight kept off and less hunger than dieters who ate a smaller breakfast and less overall calories. Their 600-cal breakfast contained, “a cup of milk, turkey, cheese, two slices of bread, mayonnaise, 1 ounce of chocolate candy, and a protein shake.” Being American, this doesn’t sound like “breakfast” to me but when I was in Europe, this was pretty much what everyone ate for breakfast. Minus the protein shake. (We will, for the moment, ignore the fact that 1200 calories is a ridiculously low alottment and my heart really goes out to that second group who got even less. Man, dieting sucks.)
Second surprise tip comes from the same study: Eat More Carbs! The dieters that ate the bigger breakfast ate more total protein and carbs than the lower-cal group but they also ate a higher percentage of carbs as the control group was on a “traditional low-carb diet.”
The second study from Purdue, with an inexplicably tiny sampling of nine overweight men, highlights the importance of adding the extra calories to the first meal of the day. When the men added more calories through protein to their breakfast, as opposed to breakfast or lunch, they felt fuller longer and had an easier time sticking to their diet the rest of the day.
All of which is not to say that the nutrition myth “don’t eat after 5 p.m.” or any of the other silly variations on that theme are true. A calorie is still a calorie and your body will process it the same whether at 3 pm or 3 am. The difference, I think, comes in setting the metabolic mood for the day. (Um, yeah, I just realized how weird the phrase ‘metabolic mood’ sounds.)
In my own life, I have found this to be true. When I eat my typical breakfast of lumberjack proportions, I seem to have fewer sugar cravings and less problems with the munchies at night. The problem for me, however, is thinking that far in advance. I sometimes still fall into the mindset of “saving” my calories for later, especially if I am going to a dinner or party later on. Inevitably this backfires as by the time I get to the party I’m starving from eating lightly all day and then I go crazy with the cheez-whiz (apparently I attend very low-brow parties).
My philosophy fall in line with the “eat like a king for breakfast, a servant for lunch and a pauper for dinner.” This is important to me for my kids as well. I always make them a home-cooked breakfast and it is often our largest meal of the day. I guess we’ll see when they get older and the therapy bills start rolling in if this works for them or not.
Things also don’t go well for me if I try and restrict carbs at breakfast time (love it when research backs up what I’m already doing!). I think that was one of the biggest problems I had on the primal diet. I just need my carbs in the a.m.
Behold my breakfast today:
1 cup cooked steel cut oats (1/4 cup dry)
1 egg with 2 whites (go freaky chicken!)
1 cup blackberries (Picked ripe in Seattle and frozen – do you know blackberries just grow wild there? Like you don’t have to pay for them or anything! Sure you run the risk of a dog peeing on your fave bush or growing a third head from eating the ones too close to the railway lines but hey, that’s why we wash our produce right?)
2 apples (Don’t judge me, it’s apple season here and if you have never had a fresh Minnesotan honeycrisp then you don’t know heaven. I can put down a 5-lb box in a single day and I make no apologies for that. We have freakin’ cold winters here people, they owe me with the apples!)
1/4 c walnut halves (Yeah I’m too lazy to chop them)
By my estimation that’s about 580 calories. And I loved every bite of it. (For the love of little green apples, did I really just write one of those this-is-what-I-eat posts?!? I’m up to my eyeballs in SAT essays, that is my only defense.)
So, what did you have for breakfast this morning? What’s your philosophy about the a.m. meal?