We all know the answer to "What's the most important meal of the day?" And if you don't then you've seriously been living under a rock... or sleeping right past it.
I'm a big believer in starting the day off right with a nutrient dense breakfast! And no, sadly, waking to the smell of crackling bacon is not the most nutrient dense way start to the day... (although hey moderation is a real thing too!)
So let me quickly hash out why breakfast is the most import meal of the day before I provide you with my 3 go-to breakfast recipes.
1. Breakfast immediately raises the body’s energy level and restores the blood glucose level to normal after the overnight fast. It also raises the muscle and liver glycogen stores. Carbohydrates are the primary source of fuel for our muscles and our nervous system and thus low carbohydrate levels will result in poor performance and rapid fatigue during training and other physical activities. Interestingly, individuals who exercise with limited glycogen intake have a Rate of Perceived Exertion much higher than those who had some carbohydrate before engaging in exercise. Lack of a quality breakfast can potentially lower the motivation and drive to get in the gym. And even if you do have the willpower to make it to your workout, starting a training session with low carbohydrate availability can significantly limit the quality of one’s training session and adversely impact training adaptation. A well-designed breakfast can provide an adequate amount of carbohydrate and other essential nutrients to raise the blood glucose levels to get moving!
2. Cortisol is a stress hormone released from the adrenal glands and causes the breakdown of muscle protein and fat. Amino acids generated from this protein breakdown are then transported to the liver where they are converted into glucose and released into the blood to limit the decline in blood glucose. When we awaken, cortisol levels are at their highest point of the day. To lower blood cortisol levels requires nutrient absorption, and if we do not consume nutrients upon awakening, cortisol will remain elevated until we do. So yes, skipping breakfast can actually works against you and cause depletion of your hard-earned muscle!
3. Studies suggest eating a larger breakfast and reducing the blood cortisol level lowers appetite and reduces daily caloric intake. Research findings also suggest a strong correlation between regular breakfast eating and long-term weight maintenance and weight loss. Why is this the case? SATIATION! The satiating-effect of breakfast can impact food consumption for the entire day. Investigators have found that the pattern of food intake has a dramatic effect on overall daily food consumption. This is due to the impact of our meal pattern on the release of gut hormones that control appetite.
So what are the best foods to eat to counter the elevated cortisol effects and start the day with adequate satiety? I'll provide three that have worked best with my daily routine:
1. Sugar Free Whole Wheat Baked French Toast
Ingredients: 3 Eggs, 3 Pieces of Whole Wheat Break, 1 tsp Cinnamon, 1 tsp Vanilla Extract, 1 tsp Salt, Sugar Free Syrup, Olive Oil
Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, coat olive oil on 9x13 inch glass baking dish, whisk all remaining ingredients together in bowl, coat 3 pieces of bread with bowl mixture, place in glass baking dish. Cook in over for 20-25 minutes (or until French Toast is Golden Brown).
2. Chia Seed Pudding with Berries and Honey
Ingredients: 1/4 cup of Chia Seeds, 1 cup Milk, 1 tbsp Honey, 1/4 cup Berries
Directions: Whisk 1/4 cup of Chia Seeds with 1 cup milk in bowl. Place bowl in refrigerator over night. The chia seeds should swell and thicken the consistency over night. Place berries on top and add honey.
3. Acai Bowl
For a great Acai Bowl recipe I enjoy (and to check out the amazing blog of a former co-worker) click here. (And yes- the recipe even has avocado!!) Please tell me you have seen this hilarious guacamole youtube video?
All three of these breakfasts are high protein and nutrient dense- a perfect combo of ingredients to start your day on the right foot! Now you're the champion of breakfasts- you're welcome ;)