Healthy Breakfast Choices

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Why breakfast?

Many people skip breakfast altogether because they either are on a diet and want to lose weight or simply have no time. The composed word ‘breakfast’ has nothing to do with ‘quick’. It rather comes from ‘breaking of the fast’ of no food ingestion during the night and is a very important meal to jump start the body and provide energy for the day ahead, at least until lunch. Leaving out breakfast is not a good idea. You’ll not recharge your batteries and only increase hunger, resulting in over-eating later or snacking indiscriminately in between.

Calorie Needs

Which kind of breakfast is best for your health depends greatly on the amount of calories your body needs. This in turn is determined by weight and the work you have to do. Up to a point it also depends on gender. Here are two examples:

A person who weighs 150 lbs burns 413 calories in 1 hour of wood chopping.

A person of the same weight only burns 72 calories in 1 hour of office work.

Source: www.healthstatus.com/calculate/cbc

This website is a great and easy to use tool to assess your calorie needs and to choose the right kind of breakfast accordingly.

Cooked Breakfast

American and English breakfast, also generically referred to as ‘cooked breakfast’, are very similar. The basic staple consists of fried or scrambled eggs, fried bacon and/or sausage, toast, fried tomato, hash browns or grits and mushrooms. The American variety often includes waffles or pancakes and maple syrup.

All these ingredients contain some protein (eggs), but mostly carbs, fat and sugar, all of which are packed with calories, but unfortunately mostly of the unhealthy variety. Fat, particularly if the eggs and bacon are fried in bacon fat, is saturated and can increase the cholesterol level of the blood, which can clog arteries. Vitamins and minerals are virtually non existent.

Cornflakes and Porridge

Often cornflakes and milk are consumed for breakfast, laced with honey or enriched with fruit. Fruit and honey are good, but, as far as calories and nutritional value are concerned, caution must be exercised with cornflakes. Numerous brands are available on the market, but you must study the ingredients and nutritional labels carefully to work out what the box really contains, even if the brand proclaims itself ‘low fat’, ‘healthy’ or ‘low calorie.’ A good example is Publix Raisin Bran, Wheat and Wheat Bran Cereal. One Cup (without milk) of 59 gram contains:

190 cals of which 10 are from fat.

0% cholesterol

10% potassium

4 grams protein

25% each of iron, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, B12 and zinc.

It does however have 19 grams of sugar.

A cup of cornflakes of the above brand may not be filling enough, so it can be enhanced with a great helping of fruit such as a large apple, a banana or a handful of nuts.

If you need eggs, scramble rather than fry them or at least use vegetable oil. Hard or soft boiling is also a good idea.

Another alternative is porridge. Porridge is an old fashioned breakfast dish of Scottish origin and basically consists of oatmeal boiled and simmered in water. It’s eaten hot with milk, butter, honey, syrup or fruit.

100 grams (3.5 ounces) of basic porridge contain:

approximately 368 calories

11 gr protein

8 grams of fat

62 grams of carbs

o.6 grams of sugar

(Brand Quaker) source: www.weightlossresources.co.uk/calories/calorie_counter/breakfast_cereal.htm

Porridge contains no vitamins and minerals.

Continental Breakfast

With the exception of the UK, this breakfast variety is favoured in Europe, although the ingredients vary from country to country. Bread, butter, marmelade and a boiled egg are the basics. In addition, cheese and cold cuts are preferred in Germany, whereas in Southern Europe it’s either a butter croissant or another pastry combined with a big cup of milk coffee. Although the sugar content provides a quick boost of energy, it burns off fast and has little nutritional value. Look at the content of a butter croissant:

406 calories

11.26 grams of sugar

21 grams of fat

source: www.calorie-counter.net/bread-calories/butter-croissant.hfm

The German variety of the Continental breakfast is a much better alternative than the fat-drenched cooked breakfast and the sugar overload of pastries and croissants.

Vegetarian Breakfast

Lastly, there is the vegetarian variety. That kind of breakfast consists mostly of fruit. Calorie count is low, but the nutritional value of vitamins and trace elements is high. Some protein will be added by low-fat cottage cheese or non-fat white yogurt.

Conclusion

Like always, the ideal choice of breakfast is somewhere in the middle. Start by working out your calorie need, avoid ‘bad’ fat and sugar, pick the best ingredients of the various kinds of breakfast and you will stay healthy and not gain weight.