Veggie Omelet with Berries
Plenty of studies show that eating breakfast is good for your health. It can help maintain weight loss and even reduce lead poisoning. But a 2011 report found that 31 million Americans still don’t eat in the morning.Oz Garcia, celebrity nutritionist for stars like Hilary Swank and Naomi Campbell, never skips breakfast. His meal of choice: an omelet made with two organic egg whites, one egg yolk, spinach and tomatoes, with a half-cup of organic berries on the side. “This breakfast has a lot of protein and will help keep you feeling full throughout the day. The omelet contains a healthy serving of vegetables and the berries are a terrific antioxidant,” says Garcia.
Eating protein in the morning can reduce cravings and hunger throughout the day, according to a 2011 study published in Obesity. “Incorporating a healthy breakfast containing protein-rich foods can be a simple strategy for people to stay satisfied longer, and therefore, be less prone to snacking,” study author Heather Leidy, assistant professor in the department of nutrition and exercise physiology at the University of Missouri, said in a statement at the time.
Oats with Milk
According to Rivera, our muscles and brain need fuel immediately upon waking. Neglecting to eat breakfast will force your body to break down glycogen — stored energy in muscle used during exercise — so it can fuel up. This results in less available energy and can lead to sugar cravings later in the day.
(MORE: Eating a Big Breakfast Doesn’t Cut Daily Calories)
“For an athlete, this translates into an inability to perform to your potential and an increased risk of injury. For those who are weight conscious, eating within an hour of waking up stimulates metabolism, which means you burn more calories throughout the day,” says Rivera.
After eating a small snack and going on a run, Rivera cooks herself a breakfast of a half-cup of oats with 1 cup of skim milk. “Raw oats are minimally processed, contain energy producing B vitamins and are a great source of carbohydrates to replenish muscle glycogen after a run. I make it with milk instead of water so that I have the added benefits of calcium, vitamin D and protein to aide in muscle growth and recovery.”
(MORE: 5 Ways to Get Oatmeal in Your Diet, Deliciously)
For flavor, she adds cinnamon, 2 tablespoons of dried cranberries and 2 tablespoons of sliced raw almonds to her oatmeal. “The cranberries are loaded with antioxidants, which counteract oxidative stress that happens to your body during an intense workout,” says Rivera. “Almonds are high in omega-3s, which is a heart-healthy fat known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Adding foods rich in omega-3s to your recovery meal decreases muscle soreness and decreases your risk of injury.”
Sprouted Grain Toast with Almond Butter
What’s sprouted grain bread, you ask? The name refers to how the bread is prepared: grains are soaked in water and allowed to “sprout” before they are added to other ingredients. It’s harder to find than standard bread, but you can usually get it at grocery stores that specialize in organic foods like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.
“Sprouted grain toast has more absorbable minerals than standard whole grain bread,” says Blatner. “The almond butter gives healthy fat and protein while the sliced apple adds wholesome nutrition and volume for fullness. It’s a good source of fiber and other disease-fighting plant compounds. The coffee in moderation offers mental morning clarity.”
Blatner recommends about 16 ounces a day of coffee to decrease the risk of diseases like diabetes and dementia. Studies have also found that coffee drinkers may be less depressed and have a lower risk of cancer, including fatal prostate cancer, and a smaller chance of stroke.
Fresh Fruit and a Glass of Milk
“The extra protein keeps my appetite quiet for the morning,” says Ayoob. “Cereal and milk are great, but I like additional lean protein in the morning. Sometimes the cereal tops off the yogurt, or is put into a Ziploc bag and taken to work with me as a mid-morning snack.”
(MORE: Beauty in a Bowl? Eating Fruits and Veggies May Improve Skin Tone)
Ayoob also indulges his sweet tooth in the morning — but only a little. “The milk is usually turned into my homemade hot chocolate. I’ll make it with lots of unsweetened cocoa powder, and a sugar substitute, like stevia. I’m not anti-sugar, but I’d prefer to spend my calories elsewhere when I can — like on a little dark chocolate later in the afternoon.”
Having something sweet in the morning isn’t necessarily a no-no. A recent study found that eating dessert in the morning can help dieters lose weight. The trick is in the timing: in the morning, the body’s metabolism is most active and there is still an opportunity to work off the calories later. During the 32-week study, participants who consumed a 600-calorie breakfast that included a sweet — like chocolate — lost an average of 40 lbs. more per person than their peers who ate a 300-calorie breakfast without dessert; both groups ate very low-calorie diets overall. As always, moderation is key.
Greek Yogurt, Walnut and Banana Blend
Cardiello starts with a 6-ounce serving of Greek yogurt for protein. “I am getting approximately 15 to 20 grams of protein, which will help me feel more satisfied throughout the morning,” says Cardiello. “Greek yogurt is mostly made up of the slow-digesting casein protein, so my body is constantly being fed, which is important for the long mornings where I may not be able to grab a healthy snack.”
(MORE: Omega-3s May Guard Against Brain Decline)
Next, he adds a handful of walnuts, one banana and a little cinnamon. “Walnuts are a wonderful source of omega-3 and help decrease my cholesterol levels,” says Cardiello. “Bananas provide energy because they contain carbohydrates, fats and protein. I sometimes eat a banana as a pre-workout or afternoon snack when I am starting to fatigue.”
In 2011, researchers from the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania found that walnuts contain more healthy antioxidants than any other nut. “A handful of walnuts contains almost twice as much antioxidants as an equivalent amount of any other commonly consumed nut. But unfortunately, people don’t eat a lot of them,” said study author Dr. Joe Vinson in a statement.
“It’s pure fuel that gives you the energy you need to go shooting into your day, supplying your body with essential vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants and fiber,” says Snyder. “Because it’s blended, it efficiently nourishes your body while taking very little energy for digestion. One 16- to 20-ounce serving contains more leafy green vegetables that most people get in a week…or a month. It’s made up of about 70% green vegetables and 30% fruit, so it’s as delicious as it is energizing and beautifying.”
Here’s Snyder’s recipe:Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups water
1 head organic romaine lettuce, chopped
3-4 stalks organic celery
1/2 head of a large bunch or 3/4 of a small bunch of spinach
1 organic apple, cored and chopped
1 organic pear, cored and chopped
1 organic banana
Juice of 1/2 fresh organic lemon
1/3 bunch organic cilantro (stems okay)
1/3 bunch organic parsley (stems okay)
Directions: Add water and chopped head of romaine to blender. Blend at a low speed until smooth. Add celery, apple and pear and blend at high speed. Add cilantro and parsley. Finish with banana and lemon juice.
Oatmeal with Cottage Cheese
“I get fiber from the oats, protein and calcium from the milk and cottage cheese, and healthy fat from the seeds. The combo keeps me satisfied until lunch,” says Gans.
Gans makes sure she gets her dairy in the morning because “it’s an opportunity for calcium and both are good sources of protein which help keep me full.”
Dieters tend to cut back on diary products, but studies have shown a moderate consumption of dairy calcium and vitamin D won’t stymie weight loss goals. Government guidelines also recommend that Americans increase their intake of fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, such as milk, yogurt and cheese, or fortified soy beverages.