Weight Loss Starts at Breakfast

There’s no doubt that breakfast is the clear winner when it comes to ranking the importance of meals.  Breakfast literally means “breaking the fast” of the night, as it’s the first meal you will eat after a night’s sleep. Breakfast also sets the stage for the rest of the day and is a key factor in helping you stay on track with your health and fitness goals. Just to mention a few reasons, the right morning meal can help with weight loss by revving the metabolism, can jump-start the brain, and stabilize blood sugar to control cravings. Research shows that regular breakfast eaters tend to be leaner and more successful at losing weight—and keeping it off—when they eat breakfast. So whether you’re too busy or just not hungry in the morning, here are 5 top breakfast ideas that are nutrient rich and quick to prepare to help ensure your day kicks off right:

images-131.  Green Protein Smoothie

If you’re not a breakfast person, ease yourself into it by sipping on a smoothie throughout the morning to start your day with vitamins and nutrients. Adding a protein powder (for example whey, hemp, or spirulina) will keep you satiated longer and ward off cravings. The greens can be in the form of a green superfood powder (my favorite is Amazing Grass), or a handful of fresh spinach or kale. The greens are detoxifying and help stabilize blood sugar.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 cups baby spinach or baby kale or green powder
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 2 teaspoons organic vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (1 scoop) protein powder
  • 1 cup ice (optional)

Directions:  Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

2.  Greek Yogurt Parfaitimages-14

Greek yogurt is all the rage right now and right fully so. Creamy and decadent, it’s an indulgence without the guilt. Packed with 30% protein and 20% bone-building calcium, making it an ideal food for breakfast or snack. Layer Greek yogurt with a high fiber cereal or granola and berries for a satisfying morning meal.

 3.  Eggs and Avocado

Eggs are a great weight loss food. The secret lies in their ability to keep you full much longer than fat or carbohydrates. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, high quality proteins, good fats. Eggs also contain small amounts of almost every vitamin and mineral required by the human body. While the whites are mostly protein, the nutrients are all found in the yolks. A whole egg is a perfect superfood. For breakfast try two eggs any style with avocado on sprouted grain toast.

4.  Oatmeal

Oatmeal can help you lose weight in two ways: first, it is high in fiber, which means it will keep you fuller longer. Second, since oatmeal is a complex or slow-release carbohydrate it will keep your blood sugar stable. According to recent research, a breakfast of oatmeal eaten 3 hours before exercise can help you burn more fat due to lower blood sugar levels.

images-155.  Breakfast Burrito

Try a breakfast burrito full of heart-friendly monounsaturated fats. Fill an Ezekiel wrap with sliced avocado, scrambled eggs, brown rice, beans, and a splash of salsa. Use your imagination and get creative with the ingredients! This balanced meal will keep you satisfied and help you consume less calories for the entire day.

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fitTip: Watch your Posture! Stand and Sit Up Straight

No slouching or hunching, please!  Whether you are sitting, standing or engaging in any activity, maintaining proper posture is so crucial.

Poor posture is the major cause of work-related back problems.  The spine wasn’t designed to sit in front of a computer or behind the steering wheel of a car for long periods of time.  But, as reality has it,  these activities are here to stay and we need to be proactive in finding ways to prevent injury to our spine.  We’re all guilty of slouching or hunching at our computer, however, consciously correcting our posture throughout the day is one way of being preventative.

Good posture requires core activation.  Proper core activation is something that needs to be practiced regularly, and only with practice, will it become a habit.  Until it becomes subconscious, we need to consciously check ourselves throughout the day and make sure we are engaging our core muscles.

Core activation requires the contraction of the deep abdominal muscles, the transverse abdominus, and the contraction of the pelvic floor muscles (which I often refer to as the “pee” muscles).  Together, these muscles, when contracted, help to support and protect the spinal cord from stress and injury.

How do you properly activate the core muscles?  Pretend to blow out a candle by deeply exhaling.  This action causes a contraction of the transverse abdominus which is responsible for forced exhalation.  Now, once the core is activated, we need to make sure our torso is upright and our spine is straight.  Imagine a puppet string attached to the top of your head; pretend to pull that string straight up, therefore, straightening out your spine.  The last part requires pulling our shoulders and head back.  And there you have it, perfect posture!

By practicing this as often as you can, where ever you are, you’ll become aware of your posture and will eventually be able to catch yourself slouching or hunching.  Good posture will not only save your back, but it’ll make you appear more confident, and taller!

Featured Exercise: The Plank for Toned Abs

The Low-PlankWhen it comes to abdominal exercises, the Plank gets rockstar status.  It is ranked one of the top 10 most effective ab excercises.  The plank is an isometric exercise that primarily strengthens the abdominal muscles (rectus abdominus and transverse abdominus), but also recruits the core muscles as synergists and stabilizers.

There are different variations of the plank, starting with the low-plank, as shown on the left.  Begin by holding the pose for 20 seconds at a time.  Over time, as your muscles gain strength, increase the time held up to a minute or longer.  Proper form and alignment  is essential for the safety and effectiveness of this exercise.  View the detailed step-by-step instructions by the American Council on Exercise for the proper execution of the Low-Plank.

Modified Low Plank
Modified Low Plank

If the low plank is difficult for you or causes any pain (especially in the back), then try the Modified Plank.  This version takes the pressure off the lower back and allows for more support by using the knees.  Progress to the low plank once you’ve mastered this modified pose and feel stronger in your back.

High Plank
High Plank

There are several progressions of the plank that can be followed, it really depends on your strength.  The length of time you can hold a pose will be an indication of your increasing strength and when it’s appropriate to progress.  The next progression from the low plank is the high plank.  The high plank is done by using straight arms and requires a strong lower back and shoulders.  This is a yoga inspired exercise that works not just the core, but the chest, shoulders, triceps, hamstrings, and glutes.

The Side Plank and Modified Side Plank are yet another version that target different abdominal and core muscles.  This exercise targets the obliques and the deep ab muscles (transverse abdominus) along with the glutes and adductors.  Once again, start with the modified version and work your way up.  View the step-by-step instructions by the American Council on Exercise.

Modified Side Plank
Modified Side Plank
Side Plank
Side Plank
High Side Plank
High Side Plank