Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. At least, that’s how the saying goes, and the research isn’t too far off. Studies have shown individuals who skip breakfast may have a higher risk of coronary heart disease, and skipping breakfast may lead to low grade inflammation and impaired glucose homeostasis. Additionally, those who eat their largest meals later in the day tend to have a higher BMI and are at a higher risk of both obesity and CHD.
As you can see, there are a lot of compelling reasons to start the day with a good breakfast. Personally, I’ve always thought it made sense to fuel up first thing in the morning. I mean, you don’t wait until after you take the road trip to put gas in the car, right?
From a purely behavioral point of view, starting the day with a large satisfying meal will make it much easier to not mindlessly snack during the rest of the day. From a more practical standpoint, excess calories consumed in the morning can be more easily burned off by increasing activity during the day, whereas excess calories consumed in the evening are more likely to be stored as fat, while you sleep.
If you are tracking macronutrients, breakfast is also an excellent opportunity to get yourself ahead of the game. You are more likely to make poor food quality choices, when you are struggling to get a large quantity of some macro or another two hours before bed. If you consume them earlier in the day, it’s much easier to choose those high quality filling foods, because you have more time to digest. If you are having a hard time getting enough of a particular macronutrient, just add whatever you tend to be short to your first meal of the day, so you don’t have to worry about it later.
To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, here’s my normal breakfast:
4 large eggs, scrambled
4 oz Kirkland Master Carve Ham
200 grams russet potatoes
1 tbs avocado oil (to cook the eggs and potatoes)
170 grams Kirkland Fat Free Greek Yogurt
150 grams strawberries
28 grams Nature’s Path Pumpkin Seed & Flax Granola
1 tbs raw honey
12 oz very strong coffee
1 tbs half and half
On most days, I’ll have my coffee, yogurt, strawberries, granola and honey, when I first wake up, and the remainder after my morning cardio. If it’s a rest day, I eat it all as one meal. This works out to about 70 grams of protein, 47 grams of fat, and 96 grams of carbohydrates, for 1087 calories. It’s about 40% of my protein for the day, and about 30-40% of my carbohydrates, depending on what phase of training/nutrition I’m in. The fats are about 50-60% of my daily intake, but I tend to consume very little fat in the middle of the day, because I like my mid day meals to be a little more easily digestible. When you’re at the gym, demoing snatches and handstand push-ups all day, you don’t really want a heavy meal sitting in your stomach. All told, this gets me about 40-50% of my daily calories, again depending upon what I’m eating for, before noon.
As you can see, I’m very much a breakfast person. For me, it’s not just about the nutrition. There’s also a ritual aspect to the preparation – making my coffee, putting my yogurt together, cooking my potatoes and eggs – that helps me get into the proper headspace to start my day. It’s become almost a form of morning meditation.
Now, I don’t expect everyone to go full lumberjack breakfast, like I do, so here’s what some of our other coaches eat for their first meal of the day.
1 tbs Peanut Butter
1 cup Greek Yogurt (fat free)
~35g protein, 11g fat, 40g carbohydrates, 399 calories
4 oz carrots
3 tbs hummus
3 large eggs, over easy
2 slices Trader Joe’s Pumpernickel bread
half an avocado
~32g protein, 32g fat, 67g carbohydrates, 684 calories
3 large eggs
1/2 an apple
1/2 a banana
~19g protein, 14g fat, 29g carbohydrates, 318 calories
I hope this gives you some ideas on how to get your day started. Also, if you’re not a big bacon and eggs person, keep in mind there aren’t any written rules about what kind of foods you have to eat at certain times of the day. If you want to eat roasted chicken and a salad for breakfast, go right ahead. It’s up to you.
by Coach Chris Woods