Cereal and Yogurt Not A Breakfast of Champions

October 6, 2011
By: Maria
By now, we’ve all heard the statement “Breakfast is the most important meal” and we would all agree that it is important to make sure that breakfast is healthy…right?  If you are eating a bowl of granola or muesli with skim milk (or 2%, 1%) with some orange juice or even a yogurt with some other brand of cereal, you are most likely not providing your body with the proper fuel to maximize fat loss and lean muscle gains and the reason might surprise you.
The breakfast foods mentioned above are grain and dairy-based carbohydrates that your gut and brain will only treat as sugar. Most of the packaged cereals are grain-based carbohydrates and none are considered sources of quality protein and fat (something our bodies need  for optimal fat loss/lean muscle gain after a night of fasting).  What about the “whole grain” variety, you may ask?  The same applies, since they have been overly processed and require re-fortification of synthetic vitamins and minerals in order to be able to advertise the health claims on their boxes.  Take a look at some of the nutrition labels:  Raisin Bran vs Froot Loops – which do you think has a higher sugar content?  If you said Froot Loops, you chose the wrong cereal. 
If you are in the low-fat/non-fat yogurt group, know that although some may not have “added” sugar, the yogurt is essentially sugar to our body.  Milk sugar is still a carbohydrate food that elicits the same response as if we were consuming sugar, and non-fat yogurts contain no fat to blunt the effects of the sugar response in the body – you are essentially just getting sugar.  If you are going to eat yogurt, pick one that is organic, without the additives, preservatives, thickeners, flavorings and it absolutely should contain its natural milk fat.
Perhaps you prefer oatmeal in the morning.  The best choice in the oatmeal variety would be the one that has the least amount of processing (all oatmeal’s go through processing) and the one that requires no re-fortification of vitamins/minerals.  Steel cut oats fall under that category.
Minimizing grain cereal in the mornings will do 2 things:  
Our guts have a difficult time digesting those grains, so you will allow that gut to heal and become healthy, and, if you’re trying to lose weight, you will notice a pleasant side effect in terms of fat loss.
So what’s left for breakfast??
This one is easy if you open your options to more than only the breakfast foods mentioned above.  When I eat breakfast, I know I am fueling my body for not only the day ahead, but also the workout I will be doing.  I want to make sure I get proper fuel that will not only sustain my energy levels, but will not be stored as fat and will not give me an insulin surge.
I look for three things:  1.) a quality protein source, 2.) a vegetable and 3.) a good source of fat.
1.)    This typically involves eggs and prepared any way, but I also have had leftover chicken or beef from dinner.  I also make any of these frequently on the weekends so I have an easy breakfast throughout the week that only needs re-heating.
2.)    I want to make sure I get plenty of servings of vegetables in my day and if I only allow myself to have vegetables at lunch or dinner, I am shortchanging the amount of nutrients I get for my overall health (vegetables contain MORE fiber than cereal with none of the health issues!).  Adding whatever vegetables I have in my fridge (I always stock up on veggies) to my eggs is an easy way.  Or maybe I’ll munch on some roasted broccoli that was leftover from dinner as I prepare my breakfast, or open up the bag of mini carrots.  Easy.
3.)    We have to have fat (healthy source, of course!)!  Fat does not make us fat and our body burns fat more efficiently if we provide it with a healthy source of fat each time we eat!  Olive oil or coconut oil when we are scrambling our eggs or a side of avocado, a handful of nuts or seeds – all good!
Sometimes, feeding our bodies to be fat burning machines requires some work or some preparation, but the pay offs are HUGE! 
I challenge you to take just ONE week and eat something outside of the “breakfast cereal” box.  I’m willing to bet your body will thank you and you might even notice some nice changes.

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