The Ugly Truth About Breakfast

Healthy Breakfast Meal Plans for You and Your Children

It’s Time to Ditch the Wheaties and Go Meaty!

I know you’ve heard it before (July 2010 Newsletter), but one of the easiest and most effective ways for people to start to improve their health and lose weight is to eat breakfast. I’m not talking about a Special K bar on your way out the door, but something with a little more substance to get your day and metabolism started right. Ideally you’d have something with more protein like eggs, or even better some leftover steak and a handful of cashews. After all, who doesn’t like steak for breakfast? There are several reasons why a protein-rich breakfast is a necessary part of any health or weight-loss plan; including increasing resting metabolic rate (faster fat-burning), decreased hunger throughout the day, and improvements in cognitive function (better thinking).

Move Over Wheaties

In my humble opinion, implementing a better breakfast in the youth of America would be a major tool in countering the obesity epidemic we are now facing. While every American, young or old can benefit, I’m most concerned about our obese youth, who, for the first time in 200 years, have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. One of the biggest contributors to childhood obesity is sugar-laden food and beverages, many of which are marketed as “healthy”. Cereal companies have touted the health-promoting benefits of eating a “good” breakfast, however, current research suggests that while a “breakfast of champions” bowl of Wheaties may be better than nothing, a protein-rich breakfast far outweighs a carbohydrate dense bowl of anti-nutrients (See Oct. 2010 Newsletter).

A study at the University of Missouri was conducted on overweight teen girls who regularly skip breakfast. The teens were divided into three groups for this study: One group continued to skip breakfast, the second group switched to a typical milk-and-cereal breakfast, and the third group was given a high-protein breakfast. In this case, a high-protein breakfast meant yogurt and protein-enriched waffles with syrup – not as good as steak and nuts, but still important.

The results of the study were important for two reasons:

1) The higher-protein breakfast improved both appetite control and overall satiety; by showing the teens made better food decisions throughout the afternoon and evening by not consuming as many empty calories from sugary snacks.

2) The study also looked at functional magnetic resonance imaging on the girls to determine activation of areas of the brain associated with reward and pleasure-driven eating behaviors. The higher protein group had the least activation of these areas. It was also noted that the high-protein participants improved their attention, focus and memory.

Another study published in the journal Pediatrics demonstrated that severely obese adolescents who followed a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet had significantly lower body mass index (BMI) after 13 weeks and were also able to maintain weight loss after six months versus those who followed a low-fat diet. The obese adolescents who followed the high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet also experienced greater fat mass loss and reductions in triglyceride levels.3

“These findings are important because they arm teens and their families with practical advice that can be implemented at home,” says Dave Ellis, R.D., C.S.C.S., a nutrition consultant who works with athletes and families. “Protein-rich foods, such as eggs, can keep individuals satisfied longer, helping them consume fewer calories throughout the day.”

Make the Most out of Breakfast

So you know your kids need to be eating better quality breakfasts for better weight management, better focus, energy and adequate nutrition. Here are some easy recipes to implement today:

Breakfast Mini Quiche

Combine eggs, leftover veggies and some breakfast meat like Canadian bacon or sausage in a bowl. Pour into a greased muffin cups (butter preferably) in muffin tin and place in the oven on 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. These can be made ahead of time and re-heated to go.

Open Faced Egg McMuffins

Toast a piece of gluten free English muffin and top with a pan-fried egg, ham and a piece of cheese. Yum!

Gluten Free Oats with a Kick

Start with slow cooking gluten-free oats. These can be made the night before by bringing the water to a boil, adding the oats and covering and setting aside. Simply re-heat with some water in the morning. Add a protein booster of peanut or almond butter, crushed walnuts, whey protein and some fresh berries for a tasty bite. This is a great one for those kids that just don’t want meat for breakfast.

More Breakfast Recipes:

You can find more breakfast related guidelines in my “Breakfast Rules Article” from last July’s newsletter.

As well as these:

Asparagus Quiche

Baked Oatmeal

Breakfast Turkey Patties

Sausage Frittata


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