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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Super Healthy Homemade Hummus – Easy and Diet Friendly!

Healthy Homemade HummusThis homemade hummus is packed with healthy goodness.  Don’t let the calories scare you!  These are nutrient rich calories, the kind we all need.  The high-calorie ingredients in hummus are the tahini (or sesame butter), and extra virgin olive oil which can be substituted for lighter alternatives, but in my opinion, these greatly contribute to the flavor, richness, authenticity, and nutritional content of the dish.

The word hummus means chickpea in Arabic, which is the primary ingredient in this ancient dish.  Chickpeas are a great source of fiber which helps reduce levels of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol).  When served with a grain, such as pita, it’s a complete-protein food and extremely low-fat.

Tahini or Sesame ButterTahini is a paste made by grinding up sesame seeds and dates back as far as 1600 BC.  Tahini contains a lot of natural oil, almost 50%, which gives it a high fat content.  The oil, however, is mostly in the form of monounsaturated fat which is beneficial for the body since it contains increased levels of HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol).  Tahini is a nutritional powerhouse, packed with a multitude of vitamins and minerals.  Antioxidants along with vitamin E in tahini reduces the aging of body cells which helps slow down the aging process.  Tahini is an extremely rich source of calcium, one of the best sources, even better than dairy (which is hard for the body to digest).  And finally, it is also one of the richest sources of protein, being almost 20% complete protein, it beats out milk, soy beans, most nuts, and sunflower seeds.

Extra virgin olive oil contains extraordinary amounts of antioxidants that fight everything from fat buildup, cravings, inflammation, to helping boost your metabolism.  It is also an extremely rich dietary source of monounsaturated fat containing oleic acid, which is a proven fat loss agent when combined with a low-calorie diet.

This goes to show that you can’t always judge a food simply based on the calorie content.  The focus should be quality over quantity, when it comes to calories.  The high-calorie ingredients in hummus are also high quality, and the health benefits they offer are worth the extra calories.  Having said that, you should still exercise portion control.  According to this recipe, one serving of hummus is 2 tablespoons per person.  Use instead of mayo on sandwiches or in wraps.  Makes a perfect mid-day snack with some veggies.  Is also great in salad dressings.  The possibilities are endless!

Ingredients

    1 can Chick Peas (15.5 oz)
    2 T Tahini
    2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    ½ cup Low Fat Yogurt
    ½ Lemon, juiced
    1 t Lemon zest
    1T Flaxseed meal
    1 garlic clove
    1 t sea salt
    ½ t ground cumin
    ½ t ground coriander seeds
    ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

Directions

Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor until a creamy consistency.  If too thick, add 2 tablespoons of water and mix.

Makes 12 servings

Nutrients per serving: 76.4 cal, 4.4 g fat, 7.2 g carbs, 2.3 g fiber, 3.1 g protein

Weekly fitTip: Know what’s in your food

Whether you are uninformed or misinformed, not knowing the contents of the foods you eat will sabotage your weight loss efforts.  Packaging of food products can be deceiving and don’t really convey the healthfulness of the product.  Manufacturers use packaging as a marketing tool for the sole purpose of sales.  They want you to believe in the healthfulness of their product so that you will purchase it, mission accomplished!  Regardless of whether the package states (example: 0 Trans Fats, Low fat, Reduced Sodium, Reduced Fat), it is your responsibility to yourself to find out exactly what the specific ingredients are.

Read food labels
Food labels turn knowledge into action.

Solution:  Read nutritional labels on the package

Food labels contain a wealth of information and at first glance, can look intimidating. You don’t need to be a nutritionist to make sense of it, you just need to be able to pick out the pertinent information.

Food Labels 101

First off, start with the list of ingredients.  If the list of ingredients looks more like a short story, then there’s a good chance the product is highly processed and contains high quantities of chemicals and preservatives.   You may want to choose a healthier alternative, one with a shorter ingredient list.  The ingredients are listed in order of quantity, the first ingredient being the highest.   It’s important to scan the list to see what the first few ingredients are because that’s what the bulk of the product is made of.  Common sense plays a big role here, if you don’t know what a particular ingredient is or you can’t pronounce it, then it is probably a chemical or additive.

Next look at the calories, grams of fat (specifically saturated fat), cholesterol, sodium, sugars;  these are the enemies, so, try and eat less of these.  Foods containing high amounts of these can be harmful to your overall health and can contribute to conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes.  Simply choose foods with a low % Daily Value of these nutrients.

Lastly, make sure the values for protein, dietary fiber, and vitamins are high.  These are beneficial to your health and well- being.  Protein is important for repairing and building muscle, however, protein from animal sources (lean meat, fish, poultry) also contains fat and cholesterol so eat smaller amounts of these.  Other sources high in protein are low-fat or skim milk, yogurt and cheese.  Vegetable proteins like beans, seeds, nuts, and whole grains are considered super foods because they are also high in dietary fiber and other minerals.

However, if all this is still too confusing or overwhelming, there is the NuVal™ Nutritional Scoring System that can take the guess-work out of making healthy food choices.

So there you go, food labels in a nut shell!  This basic information should be empowering and should help you make healthy food choices that will support your fitness efforts.