I love breakfast. As a college student and then actual adult in the world, I lived to eat, and waking up to delicious food– and plenty of it– was a dream come true.
When I first moved back down to North Carolina, I discovered something even better: it was easier to eat healthy on my own, but I could also eat as much of whatever I bought as I wanted. Watch out, watermelon!
Literally– I would buy a whole watermelon and inhale it within two days. At first, I was incredibly hydrated and would stay full for hours. Once the fibers broke down, though, I would become ravenously hungry, eating every Goldfish cracker in sight. But why? I was so full. Eating watermelon, which was lower-calorie and full of water, was supposed to help me lose weight, not gain it!
While watermelon is great for you, eating it in the quantities that I would eat it in wasn’t great. Being so high in sugar and therefore high on the glycemic index (GI), watermelon in those quantities would cause a spike in my blood sugar, forcing it to plunge once my body processed the sugar. That sharp decrease in blood sugar caused the cravings, because my body thought, “okay, my blood sugar is low. Let’s get it back up to normal,” and so the cycle continued.
Occasionally, I’ll experience this whenever I choose to have banana ice cream for breakfast, because it’s all fruit for the most part. For most days, however, I’ve come up with an equation for breakfast that keeps me full:
complex carbs + fat + protein + fiber
While I do still include fruit most days with my breakfast, I strive for a more balanced breakfast, including something with carbohydrates, something with fat, something with protein. Why?
They fuel your brain– literally. Your brain runs on carbs, and having a complex carbohydrate (a whole grain) such as oatmeal or whole grain waffles will keep you fuller because your body will process it more slowly than, say, sugar, so there will be a slower release of glucose into your bloodstream.
Fat will satiate you, because it hangs around for a while in your intestines. It won’t make you full on its own, because it naturally takes up less space in your stomach, but it will make you satisfied in what you’ve eaten, because it digests slowly.
Protein + Fiber:
Protein and fiber work together in that the fiber helps get you to being full, but protein helps you stay full. Fiber is essential, but 97 percent of Americans aren’t getting enough of it! Fiber is only found in plants, so it’s important to find some way to incorporate it into every meal. Whether that’s to grate a carrot or zucchini into your morning oatmeal (think “zucchini bread” or “carrot cake” oatmeal– you won’t taste the difference!) or to chop up some fruit and toss it in, I always try to find some way of adding fresh (or frozen!) produce into my morning routine.
Question for you:
What are some of your favorite breakfasts to have during the week?