While breakfast has long been touted as the most important meal of the day, a recent study reported that 50 percent of women don’t eat breakfast when they’re busy. If this sounds familiar, be aware that skipping breakfast sets you up for intense cravings later in the day. Eating a meal within an hour of waking provides fuel for both your body and brain, jump-starts your metabolism and can help reduce cravings later in the day. More importantly, a high-protein breakfast stimulates the release of dopamine in the brain, which will calm those food cravings.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that your whole breakfast should be protein. We’re not talking about a meal comprised of eggs, bacon and sausage. A well-balanced breakfast should consist of four things: protein, fruit or vegetables, a high-fiber grain or starchy vegetable, and healthy fats. The carbohydrates from the fruits, vegetables and grains provide the glucose that your body and brain need for energy. Adding protein, fat and fiber to the mix helps slow the release of glucose into your bloodstream, giving you longer-lasting energy and making you feel fuller for longer.
Fortunately, eating a nutritious and delicious breakfast doesn’t mean you have to slave away at the stove or spend hours getting it ready. A well-stocked fridge, freezer and pantry will help streamline meal prep. If you’re short on time in the morning, we recommend preparing your breakfast the night before so all you have to do in the morning is grab and go.
Here are some of our favorite energizing breakfast ideas:
- Prepare an omelet with two eggs and two egg whites, spinach, mushrooms and onions, and serve it with sweet potato hash and a bowl of berries.
- Yogurt parfait: Combine plain Greek yogurt with cinnamon and pure maple syrup and layer it into a glass with fresh berries or peaches, chopped walnuts and pecans, and a spoonful of chia seeds.
- Rockin’ Green Smoothie: Blend almond milk with a frozen banana, chia seeds, cinnamon, one-half of an avocado, a big handful of baby spinach and a scoop of vanilla protein powder.
- Nutty and fruity overnight oats: Soak old-fashioned oats in a mixture of milk, Greek yogurt, cinnamon and vanilla extract overnight in the refrigerator. In the morning, add fresh fruit (whatever is in season), chia and hemp seeds, and slivered almonds.
- Breakfast burrito: Scramble two eggs and cook two turkey or chicken breakfast sausage links. Combine these with a little shredded cheese, a scoop of fresh salsa, and a spoonful of guacamole or a few slices of avocado and place into a sprouted grain or brown rice tortilla and wrap up like a burrito. Hot sauce is optional.
- Tofu scramble: Mash half a block of organic firm tofu and sauté with onions, red bell pepper and mushrooms. At the end, fold in a scoop of cooked quinoa and top with a sprinkle of chopped cilantro.
- High-protein pancakes: Combine almond flour with an egg, milk, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and a ¼-teaspoon baking powder. Whisk well and cook in a pan with virgin coconut oil. Add in fresh, sliced fruit while the pancake is cooking.
- Very Berry Smoothie: Combine tart cherry juice (anti-inflammatory, great for after a workout), mixed frozen berries, chia seeds, a drop of almond extract and a scoop of vanilla protein powder.
- Grain-free granola: Combine one-quarter cup each of slivered almonds, chopped pecans and chopped walnuts, 1 tablespoon of chia seeds, ½-tablespoon of ground flax seeds, ¼-teaspoon cinnamon, 1 tablespoon of melted coconut oil, and 2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup. Mix well and place on a baking sheet and bake at 325 degrees F for 20 minutes. Let cool and mix into Greek yogurt or in a bowl with milk and fruit.