‘Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper’, ‘Breakfast should be the biggest and most filling meal of the day’, ‘Breakfast is the most important meal of the day’ –we’ve heard all these adages innumerable times. But while trying to make your breakfast is a noble thing to do, don’t make it unhealthy. We spoke to two nutritionists who pointed out common mistakes that many people unknowingly make, plus how to fix each.
1. You skip breakfast to lose weight
Many people either forget to eat breakfast (we wonder how?!) or are too busy to rush out the door that they often miss their AM meal. But this is a big fat mistake. As Mumbai-based Nutritionist Karishma Chawla of Eat Rite 24x7 explains, “The body is in a state of catabolism (breaking down all your food) at night. Continuing this fasting period will only make this condition worse. Hence, it is imperative to have breakfast. This kick starts the body’s metabolism, prevents low blood sugar levels and prevents fatigue. It largely helps us prevent binge eating throughout the day.” “Studies prove that evading breakfast makes us crave for high-calorie substitutes later in the day. As a result, we tend to make up for the missed calories (and then some) with junkier choices later in the day, which becomes tougher to burn off,” adds Kolkata-based nutritionist Sonali Dey.
2. You aren’t eating a balanced breakfast
While the ideal breakfast size largely depends on the individual’s body weight, height and activity level, “it is an old school thought that a heavy breakfast is a good breakfast. It is rather important to have the right breakfast comprising of complex carbohydrate and low fat lean protein (high biological value protein) in the right quantities. Complex carbohydrates help to maintain steady energy and blood sugar levels with minimal chance of fat storage. High biological protein helps to increase metabolism, fat burning, and keeps the body in an anabolic state which improves body composition. Another common mistake that many people make is that they focus on just one nutrient: either high on carbs or protein. A balanced breakfast would comprise of a bowl of cereal (5 tbls), fruit and some lean protein such as four egg whites,” Karishma points out.
3. You don’t eat breakfast on time
Bad eating habits result in people not feeling hungry in the morning once they wake up. It’s best to walk around, take a shower and allow yourself to feel hungry within an hour of waking up. “Ideally, you must consume your breakfast within 60 to 90 minutes of waking up. It’s imperative to get something in your system to jump-start your metabolism and keep yourself from getting hungry later,” says Sonali.
4. You eat breakfast on the go
Many complain about being crunched for time and, thus, are in the habit of grabbing a granola bar or sandwich and eating on the go. “Researches have proved that when you’re aren’t focused on what you’re eating, you’re more likely to feel hungrier soon after. So, sit down and commit to eating breakfast,” Sonali advises. Also, eating on the go can lead to impaired digestion from quick chewing. “Granola bar is a no-no because of high sugar levels. Most ready-to-eat snacks come with this hidden evil,” says Karishma.
5. Your breakfast is too small
They say, “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.” While we do maintain that a heavy breakfast is not necessarily the right breakfast. But if your breakfast packs the necessary complex carbohydrates, low fat high biological protein and good fat like olive oil used for cooking (sparingly), then “this large, nutritious breakfast will maintain your metabolism and keep your blood sugar and blood pressure levels stable, and is good for your waistline,” explains Sonali. “The inclusion of a high strength multivitamin and essential fatty acids like fish oil or flaxseeds are also beneficial,” adds Karishma.
6. You are dependent on ready-to-eat breakfast options
Cereals and oatmeal are common breakfast preferences of people who are starved for time. “But cereals are a sugar bomb (even the ones with dried fruits) that will spike your blood sugar levels and come crashing down soon after,” warns Sonali. On the other hand, “Oats has several health benefits such as aiding weight loss, reducing cholesterol, and delivering a healthy dose of fiber. But when they come in little microwaved packets, they are often filled with simple sugars that can lead to weight gain, lower energy, and reduced health,” Sonali informs us. Whole, rolled oats digest slower, keeping you full longer and steadying your blood sugar levels. “Indulging in non-flavoured oats and wheat flakes or plain simple muesli with low sugar content would be beneficial. Hence, it is important to read labels carefully,” advises Karishma.
7. You drink your breakfast
Drinking only coffee, tea, juice or a smoothie for breakfast is not uncommon. “Drinking coffee on an empty stomach can lead to acidity, but give us an impression that we’re full, thus messing with hunger levels, energy levels, and concentration later in the day. Tea with milk and sugar can add up calories quickly. Many have a misconception that milk is a whole and complete food, but that’s not true. As for smoothies, they tend to be overloaded and sugar bombs as well. It’s better to have a whole fruit,” explains Sonali. “Substitute full fat coffee plus sugar with low fat coffee with stevia (natural sugar substitute). Fruit juices (that are high in sugar) should be substituted with vegetable juices. Full fat fruit smoothies shall be replaced with low fat protein smoothies with an addition of complex carbohydrate or a whole fruit is a better idea,” concludes Karishma.
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