We’ve all heard it a million times: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Yet for most of us, busy schedules prevent us from eating a healthy breakfast. Instead of downing office doughnuts or skipping breakfast altogether, take a few simple steps to prepare a smart-start breakfast each morning.
Step 1: Ditch the sugar
Instead of starting with what to prepare, let’s focus on what not to prepare for breakfast. According to Jennifer Lyter, Certified Holistic Health Coach and Director of the Happy Bod for Holistic Eating, Playing and Living, “The biggest cause of cravings, energy dips and unhealthy food choices is the cycle of spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels.” Don’t skip breakfast. But don’t eat sugary muffins, doughnuts or cereal either, or you’ll start your day with roller-coaster energy levels.
Step 2: Pile on the protein
“Protein is like the anti-drug to a crazed blood sugar. It helps keep it balanced, so make sure your breakfast includes a protein,” Lyter says. Eggs are an obvious choice, but you could also have smoked salmon on whole wheat toast or a Southwestern-style breakfast that features beans.
Step 3: Fortify with fiber
Match your protein-packed breakfast with foods that are high in fiber to kick start your digestive system for the day. Add fruit or nuts to your oatmeal for a healthy dose of fiber. Have two slices of a whole-grain toast alongside an egg dish. A high-fiber component to your breakfast will help you feel full longer.
Step 4: Caffeinate without the guilt
If you are a coffee or tea drinker, go ahead and indulge! It seems like every week researchers come up with more pros and cons for caffeinated beverages. The bottom line? If you enjoy your morning mug, drink up. Try to limit yourself to one or two cups, but don’t feel guilty for enjoying your Joe.
Step 5: Take a shortcut
Streamline your breakfast routine by whipping up a big batch of smoothies. Fill your blender, juicer or food processor with frozen fruit, spinach, almond milk and a natural protein powder (Lyter recommends hemp, pea, brown rice or non-GMO soy protein). You can add a sweetener, like agave nectar or honey. Blend a few batches at once. Fill freezer-safe cups with one serving. Put a week’s worth of smoothies in your freezer. Each morning, take one cup out of the freezer while you get ready for the day. By the time you’re out of the shower, the smoothie should be thick but drinkable.