By your Fitness Trainers at Century Fitness
It’s great that you work-out, stay active and you are paying attention to your health. So, make sure you start everyday with breakfast!
You have probably heard from trainers that when you are active, you need to fuel yourself well. That usually means three healthy meals and a healthy snack or two depending on the day to keep your energy intake even. By doing so, you are likely to store less fat and utilize your calories better. This even holds true for those on a weight loss mission.
If you skip breakfast, you don’t “break the fast” and can easily increase 10 to 12 hours of not eating to 16 hours – yikes! This is why breakfast is so critical.
Here are some healthy examples of a good breakfast:
Low Calorie: 1 egg, 1 cup cubed melon, 1 glass of low fat milk
(Protein- 16.13gms; Carbohydrates- 25.14gms; Fats- 10.73; Calories- 261.5)
Average Balanced: egg omelet 1 whole & 2 whites w/mushrooms, peppers, onions, oatmeal quick type made with water, orange juice
(Protein- 18.7; Carbohydrates- 79.6; Fats- 15.5; Calories 522.5)
Although cereals seem to be the American “go-to” breakfast, there are plenty of other options to consider. Cereals are great when you are short on time. However, there are many cereals that border on snack treat type food rather than the healthy food they should be. Fooducate.com recently wrote about some things to consider before you fill your bowl.
Tip #1 – Fiber is your friend
A healthy breakfast cereal is all about whole grains, which help lower your risk of diabetes and heart disease.
What’s in the whole grain that makes it so great? Fiber.
Fiber is the indigestible portion of plant foods, which seems counterintuitive – don’t we want to digest the food we eat? Well, fiber helps us feel full and thus decreases appetite. It also helps the intestines function smoothly, aids in the regulation of blood sugar levels, and lowers bad cholesterol.
With all these benefits, you’d think people would be all over fibrous foods. Unfortunately, most of us are fiber deficient, averaging an intake of only 15 grams per day, when the recommended amount is 25 grams. That’s why you need a high-fiber breakfast. High-fiber grains include barley, buckwheat, millet, oats, rye, and whole wheat.
Tip #2 – Bran is your buddy
Bran is the hard, outer layer of grain. Along with the germ, it is an integral part of whole grains. It is a by-product of milling in the production of refined grains. When bran is removed from grains, they lose some of their nutritional value.
Bran may be milled from any cereal grain, including rice, corn, wheat, maize, oats, barley, and millet. Cereals made with bran tend to have a high fiber count, which is good.
Tip #3 – Avoid sugar shock
Sugar makes things taste good, especially to children. Sweet is not necessarily bad, but some cereals are over 40 percent sugar by weight! A small serving can easily have over 3 teaspoons of sugar.
A cereal with 6 grams or more of sugar per serving (one and a half teaspoons) is closer to snack than breakfast. Definitely not a healthy start to the day. Avoid cereals listing sugar as the first ingredient
Tip #4 – Say NO to artificial sweeteners
Some cereals come with zero grams of sugars, but unfortunately use artificial sweeteners such as aspartame. Although approved as safe by the FDA, zero-calorie sweeteners infantilize the taste buds, getting us used to overly sweet food. Artificial sweeteners may also interfere with the body’s metabolism, because they trigger insulin production when it is not truly required.
Tip #5 – Don’t be surprised by Sodium
Salt is the single most popular ingredient in breakfast cereals. It appears in more than 65% of cereals, slightly more than sugar! Some cereals pack almost twice as much salt (350mg) as a serving of potato chips (180mg). Salt is composed of sodium (40%) and chloride (60%). Our body needs sodium to function properly, but excess amounts can lead to an array of health problems, including high blood pressure.
The recommended daily sodium intake is 2300mg, but Americans are consuming 3700mg on average. We need to cut back, and there is no reason for a breakfast cereal to have so much salt in it.
Tip #6 – Avoid these ingredients
When consumed daily, even small amounts of unwanted ingredients start to add up:
- Partially hydrogenated oils – Yes, some cereals still have trans-fats. Sometimes it is hidden: the nutrition facts panel may say 0 grams of trans-fat even when trans-fat is present. This is due to a loophole in FDA regulations that allows 0.5 grams or less per serving to be labeled as zero. Always read the ingredient list to make sure there are no partially hydrogenated oils present.
- Artificial colors – Kids love bright lovely colors. While blue, green, and red are fun to draw with, blue #2, red #40, and yellow #5 are not something you want your children to ingest on a regular basis. The FDA says they’re safe, but other countries are banning these and other artificial colors, suspected of carcinogenicity and causing hyperactivity in some children.
- BHT, BHA – these are synthetic preservatives that increase shelf life by stopping food from going rancid. Some studies have implicated them as carcinogens. Less problematic preservatives such as vitamin E are available.
Tip #7 – Don’t be fooled by fortified cereals
Cereal grains aren’t usually very high in micronutrients. Once processed into your favorite breakfast cereal, they’ve lost most of the little they had to begin with. Sometime in the last century, manufacturers began fortifying cereals with additional vitamins and minerals in order to improve their nutritional value and marketability. For most of us that eat three varied meals a day including meat, dairy, bread, fruits, and vegetables, fortification is not really that important.
It is much better to get the vitamins and minerals in their original packaging than sprayed (yes, sprayed) onto your O’s or flakes. Which brings up another important point. The longer a cereal is drenched in milk, the more nutrition seeps into the liquid. So drink it all up!
This article is intended to be provide knowledge of general health and fitness principles and is not medical advice. Please consult with a physician if you have questions.