Remember that saying “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day?” Remember when your mom insisted you eat something before leaving for school, nagging at you that you wouldn’t be able to concentrate unless you had something in your stomach. Well, Mom had the right idea but not necessarily the right reason why. It is not only important to eat breakfast, but the quality of your breakfast is very important. If you think about it, when you wake up in the morning you have been fasting for 8-12 hours. You now wake up and are expecting your body to move and get on its way for the day. You are asking your muscles to give you energy and strength to walk, get dressed, get to work, etc. if you don’t eat anything then you are still in a fasting state and your body will shut down its metabolism thinking it is in starvation and has to conserve energy and preserve its fat stores for future use because your body isn’t sure when its next meal is coming. And if you don’t feed your muscles then how can you expect them to do the things you ask them to do (like walk!).
So now you are at the train station or at the Starbucks, and you grab your cup of coffee and a scone or maybe you choose an apple bran muffin today thinking “Oh, this is the healthier choice”. But is this really the healthy choice? Let me ask you this- do you think you want your body building muscle all day or do you want your body to break down the muscle you have and reuse the amino acids (building blocks or protein which is what muscle is basically made of) to perform its daily essential functions? What if I told you that muscle drives your metabolism? In other words, the more muscle you have the faster your metabolism. I am guessing your answer would be- No way! Don’t break down my muscle, I need that! And you would be right. The more you maintain your muscle the better you can control your weight and prevent weight gain as you get older.
All day long your body uses protein to build muscle and perform essential bodily functions that help to keep you alive and healthy. Without enough protein in our diets our bodies will breakdown muscle to provide amino acids (the building blocks of protein) necessary for the other essential bodily functions to keep us alive – examples of proteins in our bodies that require amino acids are antibodies that help keep our immune system strong, enzymes that help with all cellular function, hormones that regulate sleep, our moods, our bodily temperature, reproductive cycles, among many other processes.
Research performed at the University of Illinois by Dr. Donald Layman has revealed that our bodies need 30 grams of protein with each meal to ensure that your body has enough amino acids to keep your muscles regenerating and repairing. We know that eating 30 grams of protein at breakfast can really get your body off to a good start and help you build muscle. Now you can understand why protein at breakfast will start your day off right. You will be fueling your muscle, keeping yourself satisfied for the morning till lunch, keep your mind sharp and not foggy (eating sugar in the morning can send you on that roller coaster early in the day and leave you dragging all day long- look for a post coming soon about the sugar roller coaster).
Here are 4 great ways to get your 30 grams of protein for breakfast every day and start your day off right:
1. Make a whole bunch of hard boiled eggs and put them in the fridge Sunday night- then you can grab 3 and eat them on the way to work- eggs are one of the most complete, inexpensive proteins available- and you don’t have to be afraid to eat the yolk. There are numerous studies out there that show that the yolk is not harmful to us and the yolk has 8 essential amino acids.
2. 1 cup of 1-2% cottage cheese has 26 grams of protein and you could put some fresh berries on it and it is yummy!
3. 1 cup of plain greek yogurt will have 18-22 grams of protein and you could put some nuts in it for crunch to get the extra protein
4. 3 egg omelette with some spinach and feta is a delicious way to start your morning if you have the time (skip the hash browns and ask for some sliced tomatoes instead!)
Tune in next week for more great information on how to get in shape this spring!