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5 tips for a better breakfast

Your mother always said “breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” and she wasn’t entirely wrong. Breakfast can provide import fuel to start your day, prevent you from being overly hungry later, and even help to reduce cravings for unhealthy foods. However, what you eat matters, and not all breakfasts are created equal. Many of the go-to breakfasts of the typical American diet resemble dessert more than a nourishing start to the day. Below we will explore 5 tips to build a better breakfast and get the most out of Mom’s favorite meal!

  1. Start with protein. Protein is the cornerstone of any powerhouse breakfast. Protein can help keep you fuller longer, and is an important macronutrient that can help preserve lean body mass. Furthermore, some research suggests that a high protein breakfast (30 grams or more) can help keep appetites and cravings at bay throughout the day.  Consider including eggs or Greek yogurt as a protein source at breakfast. Another option, especially for those on the go, is a protein shake made from a low sugar protein powder.
  2. Pair with a whole grain. Whole grains are an important source of fiber, which can help you stay fuller longer. Fiber also has a myriad of health benefits from helping to reduce levels of “bad cholesterol” to helping keep bowels regular to helping improve blood glucose levels. Pairing a lean protein with a whole grain is a recipe for breakfast success. Try mixing some Greek yogurt with a high fiber breakfast cereal or have an egg with a slice of whole grain toast.
  3. Plan ahead. Mornings can be a difficult and stressful for many people, and not having enough time to prepare breakfast can often lead to either breakfast skipping or reaching for a quick but unhealthy choice, such as sugary cereal, a toaster pastry, donut, or “granola” bar that often has nearly as much sugar as a candy bar. A little planning and preparation can help make a healthy breakfast a reality. Many breakfasts can be quickly and easily prepared ahead of time so that they are ready to go for hectic mornings. Overnight oats made with quick oats, low fat or fat free milk and some frozen or fresh fruit is one example. Another example is egg cups that are baked off ahead of time and warmed in the microwave when you are ready to eat them.
  4. Don’t wait too long. The definition of breakfast can literally by broken down to “break the fast” since when you wake up in the morning it has likely been greater than 8 hours since your last meal. Even if you aren’t yet starving, your body is in need of nutrients to tackle the day. Waiting too long for breakfast can result in even greater feelings of hunger later, which can result in overeating. Try to eat breakfast within an hour of waking up. It may be hard at first, especially if you are usually a breakfast skipper, so it is ok to start with something small and work up to a normal sized, balanced breakfast. Protein shakes are another alternative for those that struggle with solid food first thing in the morning.
  5. Be Creative. Breakfast doesn’t have to be boring. From social media avenues like Pinterest and Instagram to more traditional publications like Cooking Light and Real Simple, the Internet is full of creative, delicious, and healthy breakfast ideas. Tasty toasts, outrageous oats, scrumptious smoothie bowls, enviable eggs, let your imagination run wild. If breakfast foods aren’t your cup of tea, that’s ok too! There are no rules stating you can only eat breakfast foods for breakfast. As long as you focus on lean proteins and whole grains, any food can be a nourishing choice to start your day!
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Paige Cross, MS, RD, LN

Paige Cross, MS, RD, LN is a registered dietitian with the Billings Clinic Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolism program. She is a research coordinator and cares for patients in the WeightSmart medical weight management program.

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