Saturday, November 7, 2009

Something Besides Cereal for Breakfast?

When it comes to breakfast, most Americans grab a bowl of cereal as they rush to get ready for school or work. Even worse, they may skip breakfast all together as they “don't have time” to make a meal in the morning (I'm sure they had time to spend an hour or two surfing the net or watching TV before bed though hmmm?). This is a sure-fire way to gain unwanted weight. Most cereals are laden with sugar, which will only spike insulin levels and leave the person starving for more food within a couple hours. I've mentioned it before and I'll continue to say it: consistently creating insulin spikes in your bloodstream (unless it's during or after a workout, which I'll explain in a future article), will only lead to increased fat storage and a highly increased risk of diabetes (which is rising at an alarming rate in America). For breakfast, we need a lean protein source (ex. eggs), or we may choose a low-glycemic carbohydrate source that is also high in fiber. Why should we eat breakfast? Here are a few key points:

1) It “breaks the fast” of going all night without eating. The less frequently we eat, the more our metabolism slows down. By eating breakfast, we can help kick-start our metabolism for the day, thus launching us out of “fat-storing” mode.

2) It will help curb hunger cravings later in the day. If you skip breakfast, you'll inevitably be starving by the time lunch roles around, and who of us can say we make ideal food choices when we're so hungry we can't think straight? Not to mention that the workplace kitchen is usually immersed in junk food and the halls filled with candy bowls.

3) It will help provide your body with long-lasting energy throughout the morning.

4) Our bodies tolerate carbs better earlier in the day. This makes breakfast a good opportunity to intake a majority of your daily carbohydrate calories.

4) Studies show that lean individuals tend to eat breakfast on a daily basis, and the majority of obese individuals skip breakfast. Interesting.

5) Studies show that children who eat breakfast have improved concentration, memory and better grades, and also frequently have higher verbal and quantitative scores on tests. When we wake, are brain is demanding blood glucose which equals learnin' energy!

Anyways, enough of information. Let's get to a delicious, nutritious, and effective recipe to jump-start your day (and metabolism). Does it provide an “ideal” ratio of fats, carbs, and protein? Not quite, but it's something quick and easy that most of you could add to your morning routine that I guarantee will help you feel and look better.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Oatmeal
(I have to give credit for most of these ingredients to my girlfriend Kelsey. She suggested the cocoa powder and xylitol which made it all the more delicious)

My Breakfast Stash

  • 1/2-1 Cup Old Fashioned Rolled Oats (adjust amount depending on activity level)
  • About 1 Cup Milk (amount depends on how many oats used)
  • 1 scoop Whey Protein Powder (an easy way to get in a morning protein serving, not to mention slowing the carbohydrate absorption from the oats)
  • Xylitol (measure to taste...xylitol is a natural sweetener that won't spike your blood sugar that also happens to be incredibly delicious)
  • Dark Chocolate Cocoa Powder (measure to consistency...Hershey's 100% tastes pretty darn good)
  • 1-2 Tbsp All-Natural Peanut Butter (adjust amount depending on activity level/goals)
  • ½ Banana (Sliced)

Combine everything in a bowl, stirring as you add ingredients. Place in microwave for 2-4 minutes (depending on strength of microwave), stirring about halfway through to ensure thorough heating. You can add Splenda as the sweetener, but I don't think it tastes nearly as good as xylitol (even though it's must cheaper). You may also use Agave Nectar (a low-glycemic sweetener extracted from a plant...found in most grocery stores). If using Agave Nectar as the sweetener, I prefer to add it after nuking. It will take a couple attempts to figure out the proportions you personally like to add to make it taste just right, but once you get it, you'll never go back to pre-packed flavored oatmeal that's nutrient-poor and loaded with sugar.

  • You can also add some fruit on the side, such as some sliced strawberries or grapefruit
  • I prefer to get my rolled oats from a natural foods store, as you can by loads of em for very cheap. If you don't have access to such a market, then plain Quaker oats are a good second choice.
  • If going for fat-loss, go light on the peanut butter (measure it, you'd be surprised at how much you use), and be sure to use either a sugar-free sweetener, or something low-glycemic such as Agave nectar. Avoid using plain white table sugar, and even honey if you can.
  • If looking for weight gain/muscle building, you can increase the oats and peanut butter used
  • May also add some eggs on the side if you're really hungry or simply need a higher calorie/protein intake
Questions/Comments? List them below!
(Also, I'd be glad to provide the citations to the studies I mentioned earlier)


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