Breakfast – When To Eat It?

Timing of meals can be a big topic. For today, we are just going to dive in and look at breakfast.

There is a lot about how, when, and what to eat for breakfast. And there’s even debates about if you should or shouldn’t eat breakfast. Let’s look at a few different topics about why people have said to eat or not to eat breakfast.

Effect on Your Metabolism

Your metabolism is the thermic effect on food, which is increases the calories burned after you eat. Interestingly enough, what matters for your metabolism is how much you eat throughout the day, not when you eat it.

A study in 2014 shows that there was not a change in calories burned over 24 hours between people eating or people skipping breakfast.

Eating breakfast does not boost or kick-start your metabolism.

Effect on Weight Management

Not having breakfast and waiting for lunch does make you more hungry and you will most likely eat more at lunch, but on average, it’s not more than what you would have eaten had you had breakfast and lunch.

Some people like the idea of intermittent fasting, which is fasting for certain times of the day, which can include not eating breakfast. This can result in a calorie deficit throughout the day, and thus over time results in weight loss. However, if you planned out your day and still had the same amount of calories, whether eating breakfast or not, it would result in weight loss as well. However you can safely and easily maintain a calorie deficit over time, you will loose weight. For some that might mean skipping breakfast.

There was a 4-month long study that compared eating and/or skipping breakfast in over 300 men and women. After the study was over there was no difference in weight loss/gain between the groups.

Breakfast Is Up To Preference

If or when you eat breakfast is up to you. I’m usually a breakfast eater, but other mornings I’m just not hungry and skip it all together. It’s up to how you feel.

However, having a healthy variety of foods throughout the day is important, as well as your overall daily caloric intake.

This was all a long winded way to say – if you’re hungry in the morning, eat. If you’re not hungry in the morning, don’t. Breakfast does not have a determining factor in weight gain/loss or in your metabolism. Now – keeping your blood sugar from spiking and dipping is a whole other topic about when to eat. I’m sure we will be covering that topic soon. But for now – enjoy breakfast, or not.

Is Intermittent Fasting For You?

Intermittent fasting has been talked about a lot recently, but is it right for you? Is it better than other weight loss methods? How can you practice it safely?

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is a different weight loss strategy. It’s more when you eat, not necessarily what you eat. There are different ways to do it, but in one way or another, you are on a fasting schedule throughout the day, or week, having periods of fasting and non-fasting spurts.

Fasting is not the same as starvation. Extremely low calorie intake or going without eating for days is not safe and is damaging. 

Photo by Ursula Spaulding on Unsplash

Is It a Better Method? Is It Safe?

Intermittent fasting can be effective for weight loss, but no necessarily “better” than other methods. It depends on what you might mean by better. There was a 2017 trial that found after 1 year of weight loss, intermittent fasting was comparable to calorie restriction in the amount of weight lost. Choosing which method comes down to preference and health factors.

For instance, if you are pregnant, diabetic, or healing from something like surgery, then intermittent fasting would not be a healthy weight loss strategy. Also, if you have an eating disorder, intermittent fasting would not be something to do since it can encourage binge eating or taking the fasting too far.

The other factor is to see how your body responds. For example, if you realize your blood pressure drops to quickly, you get headaches, or hangry when trying intermittent fasting, then find another method.

With all of that being said, for an average healthy adult who has some weight to lose, there should not be a problem with fasting unless you find it’s not a reasonable option for you.

Photo by manu schwendener on Unsplash

Methods

There are 3 main types of intermittent fasting. Depending on how your body handles, there might be one that’s better than others. Before I get into the 3 types I wanted to say this: during your eating or “non-fasting” stage, you would eat normal size meals. This is not an excuse to binge and keep in mind nutrition. Just because this might help you not have to count everything that goes into your body, doesn’t mean that all you can feed it is junk food. Nutrition is always important in general, but especially when losing weight.

5:2 Method

The 5:2 method is when you choose 1-2 non-consecutive days throughout the week that you eat only 500 calories (200 calories being protein) and drink water. It could be in one meal or spread out throughout the day. The reason for 200 calories being from protein is to limit the amount of muscle/protein loss when fasting.

Alternate Day Method

This is fasting for 3-4 non-consecutive days per the week. 24-hours of fasting (500 calories throughout the day, 200 being from protein), and the next 24-hours eating what you want, when you want.

Time-Restricted Method

This one is probably my favorite since it includes to time you sleep, which makes it easier and more doable for me. You fast anywhere from 16-20 hours per day, including the hours you sleep. You can eat freely during your non-fasting hours. During your fasting period you can have things like water, plain unsweetened tea or black coffee. Then within a 4-8 hour window within a 24 hour period you eat. Most people opt for 8 hours. For instance, only have water/tea/coffee until 10 am, then eat and stop eating by 6 pm.

Bottom Line

Choose what’s best for you and your health. The best and healthiest diet is one that your body responds to, that isn’t a burden on you and your life, and something that keeps you eating healthy foods. Not something that leaves you “hangy” and irritable. Not something that makes you worried if you entered in the correct about of food. Not something that makes your life harder to live, but something you can manage. Whether that’s intermittent fasting or not, find what works for you.

Portion Control

One of the common things I’ve noticed people wanting to know is about portion size. I’m not a stickler about portion sizes. I “eyeball” a lot of things. Especially since counting and measuring food just makes eating stressful when it should be enjoyable. I’m already stressed enough with everyday life, I don’t need to be stressed about if whether I have a cup of rice on my plate or if it’s more.

Photo by Edward Guk on Unsplash

However – being mindful of your portions is beneficial. It’s something I had to learn. Especially when you plates seem to keep getting larger, small size cups seemed to have doubled in size over night. (Don’t get me started on the small 8 ounce clear cup they give you at pay-before-you-eat places for water, but if you get a soda, it starts at 20 ounces.) Different restaurants and especially fast food venues give you more than is needed.

I was shocked one day when I drove through somewhere while I was running errands to grab a medium iced tea, thinking it would be 16-20 oz., and it came out and was 32 oz. It reminded me of a Parks and Recreation episode. There was a 512 oz. soda called “Child Size”. “Well, it’s is roughly the size of a 2 year old child, if the child was liquefied.” I mean, for real! But because of this, and the reasons I mentioned before, most people don’t know how to gauge what a normal portion would be just by “eyeballing” it. Let’s first talk about the benefits of portion control.

How It’s Beneficial
Weight Loss

I know for me, this was one of my biggest changes and the best thing that helped me to loose weight and continue to do so. Of course eating the right foods is definitely the top thing, knowing how much to eat is the next. Once you start seeing how much should be enough, portion control really isn’t the headache it seems to be. And you won’t be hungry all the time if you’re eating the right foods. I’ll get to that in a minute.

Photo by i yunmai on Unsplash

Digestion

If you don’t like working overtime without any compensation, why make your body do it? If it’s overloaded and overworked, then you can have some serious issues because it can’t keep up. Stomach pains, cramping, weight gain, unhealthy blood sugar levels, etc. Give your digestive system what it needs in decent amounts throughout the day so that it can handle it.

Stops Over Eating

Once you start to eat the right amount of portions, you stomach will be satisfied sooner and will be used to lighter meals and knowing it’s not starving if you don’t weigh it down. You’ll get fuller faster. If your stomach is the appropriate size then you will have less of a chance of overeating. It will start to feel uncomfortable.

How to Measure without Going Crazy

If measuring seems like it’s going to stress you out like it does with me, do what I do and I use my hand to measure. Once I know how much my serving will be I use my hand to roughly guess. If you have never used the hand method, check out this article ab out it on Runtastic.com. It’s a great first step if you don’t want to count calories but know you need to watch what you eat.

Tips on Portion Control
Average Measurements to Keep in Mind for 1 Serving
  • 1-2 Tablespoons for any fattening spread – butter, nut butters, avocado, etc.
  • 2 Tablespoons for any dried fruit
  • 1 slice of bread
  • 1/4 cup (roughly) for raw nuts
  • 1/2 cup for whole grains – rice, cereals, pasta, oats, etc.
  • 1/2 cup for fresh fruits, or 1 small piece of fruit
  • 1/2 cup for beans, legumes, etc.
  • 1 cup for vegetables
  • 2 cups for raw leafy greens
  • 3 oz of meat – red meat, chicken, or fish (palm of your hand)
  • 1 egg or 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup milk or yogurt
  • 1 oz of cheese (about 1 domino size)

It all depends on your diet and goals, but this will at least show how much 1 serving is no matter the diet you might be on.

For example, for breakfast you might have:

  • 1 slice of whole grain toast with 1 tbsp of unsalted butter
    • 1 serving of grains, and 1 serving of fat
  • 1 small apple
    • 1 serving of fruit
  • 1 boiled egg
    • 1 serving of protein

Nutritional Information: 

365 calories | 18 g total fat | 2 g polyunsaturated fat | 5 g monounsaturated fat | 9 g saturated fat | 0 g trans fat | 217 mg cholesterol | 221 mg sodium | 39 g carbohydrates | 7 g fiber | 19 g sugar | 12 g protein

Use Smaller Plates and Bowls

One thing I started doing was using smaller dishes. Even if you go back for seconds, it’s still better. It can give you a reason to wait a few minutes before getting more and giving your stomach some time to respond to what you just ate. So if you are not all about the measuring or eyeballing and wanting to just listen to whether your stomach is satisfied or not, start with this. Wait 10 minutes after finishing your food before going back for another plate.

Photo by James Harris on Unsplash

Eat Fiber Rich Foods

Fiber keeps you fuller longer and also helps with digestion and blood sugar. So when you are sitting down for a meal, see how many vegetables, whole grains, or beans you have on your plate. Usually dinner is my heaviest meal. Breakfast and lunch are lighter or quickly digestible foods because I don’t stop moving until after dinner. Keeping things lighter helps to keep me from being sluggish because my digestive system doesn’t have to take a “time out” to digest what I just gave it. Since dinner is heavier I usually try to have a salad with it. If I’m starving when I get home from having light meals earlier, I go ahead and eat my side salad while I’m cooking dinner. It holds off the hunger and when my heavier, richer foods come I don’t over indulge, and eating slower isn’t a problem.

Bottom Line
  1. Be mindful.
    • I’ll be saying this a lot with my posts. Your body will thank you! When you keep your portions in mind, then splurging on some queso on girls night out won’t completely wreck what you’ve been working towards all week and your body will be equipped to deal with it.
  2. Don’t make it stressful.
    • Do what works for you. The first week or two of keeping it in mind might seem a little much since it will be an added step to your routine and something else you have to think about. But afterwards it will start to become second nature and not a burden at all.
  3. Depends on your goals.
    • Serving sizes and how many servings to have a day might differ from person to person, but knowing what a portion size actually looks like will help keep your goals on track.

 

Know Your Labels: Calorie Terms

Welcome back to another “Know Your Labels”. It’s important to know why certain products will label themselves in a specific way. As always, check the nutrition label and ingredients, not just what’s on the front of a package. The labeling on the front of the package might help to reduce the amount of labels we do read. So let’s talk about energy terms, or calorie terms that can be on products.

Calorie Terms or Energy Terms

  1. Calorie-Free: This means that there is less than 5 calories per serving. Be careful when choosing these items because more than likely they have additives in them to take and feel like food but it’s not a big help in the nutrition aspect.
  2. Low-Calorie: No more than 40 calories per serving. This items would be a good go-to snack if you are watching your caloric intake. However, a piece of fruit would be a good and low calorie option as well.
  3. Reduced Calories: Contains at least 25% fewer calories than the regular alternative product. It can be a good choice since usually a “reduced calorie” product can be they reduced the fat percentage of the product. But still always read the label. 25% reduced calories of a bag of chips still doesn’t mean it’s not a high calorie food.

Things to Consider

If you are watching you caloric intake and looking at products with these terms on the front, always read the label. When you reduce your caloric intake, watching your nutritional intake in a must. Since you will be eating less energy, the energy you consume should be from high nutrient sources. Less calories, higher nutrition. For instance, instead of snacking on a bag of crackers (120 calories), you choose an orange (30 calories). The orange will not only have good sources of energy but also added benefits of vitamins and minerals. Although the label might say low-calorie, or reduced calories, make sure the nutritional value of that product is high.

Although lower calorie products might help you with your caloric goal, you want to make sure you are doing it in the right way which is feeding your body nutrients it needs without going over your calorie deficit. If you need any help in this regard, I’m always here! Feel free to reach out.

 

Now a question for you:

Would you like to see some healthy snack options that are naturally low calorie and healthy?