All too often, we find ourselves scrambling to find something quick to eat for breakfast and those choices tend to include carbohydrates. Toast and sugary, processed cereal are prime examples. But what about no- or low-carb choices? You might be surprised by how effectively these low-carb breakfast ideas will get your engine running in the morning – and by the reasons too many carbs are a bad way to begin the day.
The Scoop on Carbs: Are They Necessary?
Carbohydrates, or carbs, aren’t only necessary; they’re essential to the functioning of your overall health. Choosing the right carbs can help in your overall dietary goals. According to the McKinley Health Center in Illinois, carbohydrates are a macronutrient. Macronutrients are substances necessary for growth, metabolism and other bodily functions and, since “macro” means large, the body needs large amounts of macronutrients to function properly. Macronutrients come in the form of carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
Believe it or not, carbs are the macronutrient that we need in the largest amount! Carbs provide fuel for the body, in the form of glucose, which is utilized by virtually every organ and structure in the body for energy and proper functioning. Carbs are found primarily in starchy foods, like grains and potatoes, fruits, and milk products.
Confused by all the low-carb hype? Carbohydrates are necessary but, like all things in life, it’s balance that provides proper nutrition. Carbs must be balanced out with proteins and fats for the proper functioning of the body.
Cut Down On Your A.M. Carbs
High-carb breakfasts can actually cause you to gain weight! Here’s why: While you’re sleeping, your body is actually burning fat as it uses protein for energy. Thus, you awake burning fat. Insulin levels are high in the morning as well. Eat a high-carb breakfast and –boom! – your insulin levels rise even higher then take a tumble around lunchtime, causing you to feel ravenous and making you more likely to over eat.
The solution is simple: Instead of just toast or cereal (or both), add a protein, such as a scrambled egg, cottage cheese, or a lean meat to your carb choice. According to Shape magazine, you should aim for 30 grams of protein in the morning – this is the equivalent of 2 scrambled eggs and 1 container of plain Greek yogurt – and equal amount of carbs (i.e. 1 piece of toast or 1 package of oatmeal). In other words, always balance out your meals with almost equal amounts of carbs and protein.
Low- and No-Carb Breakfast Ideas
Here are a few ideas for tasty breakfast without all the carbs.
A veggie omelet is a perfect low-carb breakfast idea as it contains protein, from the egg, and a hit of vegetables to provide nutrients. One egg contains 6 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat, and zero carbs. Veggies do contain carbs but some have lower amounts such as broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, bell peppers and onion. Meat is also a protein so feel free to add lean ham, chicken or turkey and low-fat, low-carb cheese such as mozzarella or ricotta. Avoid processed cheeses and cottage cheese to stay in low-carb territory.
Meat, Glorious Meat
You can always hit the ground running with a meaty breakfast for a big protein kick right out the gate. Pick lean cuts of pork, beef, turkey and/or chicken and pair it with healthy fats, such as nuts and avocado. Or pick a fatty fish, such as salmon, to get your morning off to a healthy start.
Shake It Up
When you’re really pressed for time, a protein shake can get your motor running in the morning. Start with a base, such a pre-mixed protein powder shake mix and add low-carb fruits such as blueberries and raspberries and/or low-carb veggies such as spinach or kale.
These are just a few ideas to get your morning routine into low-carb mode. Virtually everything, with the exception of proteins, such as meats and fish, have carbs. But if you ditch the processed, sugary cereals and toast you will be well on you way to an anti-carb breakfast routine!