If there was one dietary change I could encourage people to make, it would be to eat breakfast. When you wake up, the blood sugar your body needs to make your muscles and brain work their best, is usually low. Breakfast helps replenish it.
Eating in the morning also kick-starts your metabolism, which helps you burn calories throughout the day and gives you your much-needed energy to get things done.
Many people skip breakfast as a method to save calories in the hope that it will quicken weight loss. Others simply don't make the time to plan ahead for this very simple, yet essential meal. So if you are looking to add this meal back into your day, or are just in need of some new ideas to kick-start your morning, here are a few of my favourite breakfast ideas:
- Protein shake/smoothie - coconut or almond milk combined with fruit, yogurt, flax seeds and protein powder. Try pairing it with a bowl of oatmeal
- Protein pancakes - make your usual pancakes and add in a scoop of protein powder. Try with some fruit
- Scrambled eggs or omelette - add veggies and sweet potatoes
- High fibre/protein cereal and fruit
- Breakfast burrito - tortilla filled with black beans, eggs, and salsa. Plus fruit
- Breakfast sandwich and fruit
- Low sugar Greek yogurt with fruit and "healthy" granola
- Waffle sandwich - eggs between two wholegrain waffles. A kids' favourite!
- Peanut butter toast and a banana.
And if you are one of people who exercise in the morning, it's even more important that you fuel your body after waking up. Since the goal of exercise is to move in the direction of higher intensity workouts, it is essential that you fuel your body. Try to eat a small snack about 30-60 minutes before you exercise.
Examples of a great pre-workout meal include:
- Wholegrain toast and almond butter
- Small banana and 4 oz plain, unsweetened yogurt
- Yogurt parfait - a half cup of wholegrain cereal, a quarter cup of yogurt, and a half cup strawberries. Or an apple, or banana and almond butter
- Wafflewich - one frozen waffle with two teaspoons of almond butter.
In addition to the pre-workout meal, it is also important to eat within 30-60 minutes after you exercise. This is the time when your body is primed for maximum calorie burn and you want to feed those muscles. The American Dietetic Association recommends 1-1.5 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight, to allow for maximum replenishment of glycogen stores (fuel used during exercise), and 10-20 grams of lean protein to help repair muscle tissue. Try to make sure this meal is a combination of protein, fat and carbs.
Examples of great post-exercise meals include:
- Eggs and oatmeal
- Bagel with egg whites - half bagel topped with egg whites
- Black bean omelette - 4 egg whites, 1 oz low-fat cheese, and a quarter cup of black beans. Spice it up with salsa
- Protein shake/smoothie and oatmeal.
Sara Lindburg has a B.S. in Exercise Science and an M.Ed. in Counselling. A 41-year-old wife, mother, and full-time secondary school counsellor, she combines 20-plus years' experience in the fitness and counselling fields and she has found her passion in inspiring other women to be the best version of themselves on her Facebook page, FitMom. Her inspiration for writing comes from her 6-year-old son, Cooper, and 8-year-old daughter, Hanna. Follow Sara on twitter.