Q. How can I eat a better breakfast?
Six ways to start your day off right
A. Before your next "well-balanced" breakfast of oatmeal and fresh blueberries, ask yourself this: Where's the protein and fat? After all, with the exception of eggs and sausage, typical breakfast foods -- cereal, fruit, toast, pastries, and juice -- provide you with almost nothing but carbohydrates, often in the form of sugar. And that means most morning meals are highly unbalanced.
Now most men already know they need high-quality protein -- the kind found in meat, eggs, and dairy -- to nourish and build muscle. But fat's important at your morning meal, too. That's because, along with protein, it slows the absorption of carbohydrates into your bloodstream, providing you with a steady supply of energy--instead of a quick sugar rush (often followed by a sugar crash).
And by keeping you full longer, this protein/fat combo can also help shrink your midsection. In a recent study, Louisiana State University researchers found that when people had eggs for breakfast, they ate 250 fewer calories during the rest of the day than when they had a bagel instead.
Of course, you don't need a magazine article to tell you how to make scrambled eggs. So here are six new ways you can fill your belly, feed your muscles, and energize your body first thing in the morning.
These high-protein waffles are courtesy of Mary Dan Eades, M.D., author of Protein Power. (Check out her recipe-packed blog at proteinpower.com.) To boost the protein and fat while dialing back the carbs, she recommends a combination of pecans, whey-protein powder, and almond flour, which is a high-fiber, low-starch alternative to wheat flour.
You can make almond flour by chopping slivered almonds in a food processor, or you can purchase it preground at www.bobsredmill.com. (For all the recipes found here, choose a protein powder that's nearly all protein--that is, one that contains little carbohydrates or fat--such as Designer Whey Protein or Optimum Nutrition 100 Percent Whey.)
1 c almond flour
1/4 c finely chopped pecans
1/2 c whey-protein powder
1 tsp baking powder
4 oz regular cream cheese, softened
1/4 c heavy cream
While your waffle iron preheats, combine the almond flour, pecans, whey-protein powder, and baking powder in a small bowl. In another bowl, whisk the cream cheese and two eggs until smooth. Add the remaining eggs one at a time and whisk thoroughly after each. Mix in the cream, then stir in the dry ingredients. Spoon about 1/3 cup batter onto the hot waffle iron and cook for about 3 minutes, until golden brown. Top with sugar-free syrup, peanut butter, or fresh fruit. Or let them cool, place in a ziplock bag, and freeze. When you're ready to eat one, just pop it in the toaster.
Makes about six 7-inch waffles
Per waffle: 382 calories, 27 grams (g) protein, 12 g carbohydrates (3 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 29 g fat (9 g saturated)
Think of it this way: You're simply trading the high-sugar jelly you normally use on toast for high-protein tuna salad. It's easy to make ahead of time, and by tweaking the conventional recipe to include cranberries, Men's Health resident chef Matt Goulding has added a hint of jellylike sweetness.
1 6 oz can solid white tuna
2 Tbsp dried cranberries, roughly chopped
1/4 yellow onion, minced
1 Tbsp mayonnaise
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all the ingredients together. Serve a scoop on a piece of toasted whole-grain bread.
Makes 2 servings
Per serving (on a slice of whole-grain toast): 230 calories, 22 g protein, 23 g carbohydrates (6 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 6 g fat (1 g saturated)
With this recipe from Dr. Eades, you control the ingredients, the manufacturer doesn't. And that means you can ensure it's free of hard-to-avoid high-fructose corn syrup, while having nearly triple the protein of most ready-to-eat yogurts.
16 oz plain yogurt
2 c fresh or frozen unsweetened mixed berries
4 scoops (about 80 g) vanilla or strawberry whey-protein powder
2 packets Splenda (optional)
Line a 2-cup mesh strainer with a paper coffee filter and place it over a mixing bowl. Fill the filter with the yogurt, cover with a clean cloth or waxed paper, and set the bowl (with strainer inside) in the refrigerator for several hours. Much of the liquid from the yogurt will drain into the bowl, resulting in thicker yogurt. In a blender, puree the berries along with the whey-protein powder and Splenda. Once the yogurt has drained, place it in a large bowl and stir in the berry puree.
Serve in 1-cup portions and store for up to 3 days.
Makes 4 cups
Per cup: 198 calories, 23 g protein, 17 g carbohydrates (3 g fiber, 13 g sugar), 6 g fat (3 g saturated)
A 12-ounce Frappuccino contains 44 g sugar and a hefty dose of caffeine, but hardly any nutrients. And really, should you ever spend four bucks on a glorified cup o' joe? Instead, try this custard alternative from Dr. Eades. It'll provide you with a jolt of java, a 21 g infusion of protein, and a hefty dose of coconut fat, which contains a healthy type of saturated fat (called lauric acid) that studies have shown boosts immunity.
1 14 1/2 oz can premium coconut milk (Look for it in the ethnic-foods section of your grocery store.)
2 c strong coffee (regular or decaf)
3 eggs, beaten
3 scoops (about 60 g) chocolate whey-protein powder
4 packets Splenda
Pinch of salt
In a saucepan, combine the coconut milk, coffee, beaten eggs, whey-protein powder, Splenda, and salt; whisk to mix well. Gently cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to thicken and lightly coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat, pour into a covered pitcher, and cool quickly by placing the pitcher into an ice-water bath until it's half submerged.
Serve chilled in 1-cup portions for a quick breakfast. Or blend it with crushed ice until smooth and thick for a frozen mocha treat.
Makes 4 cups
Per cup: 326 calories, 21 g protein, 5 g carbohydrates (0 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 27 g fat (21 g saturated)
These ready-to-eat muffins, available at nexgenfood.com, contain 10 g high-quality protein, no sugar, and 24 g fiber. That's twice the amount of fiber most men consume all day. The secret: Instead of using wheat flour, the manufacturer substitutes a blend of six natural fibers that have been ground into a fine powder.
Per muffin: 170 calories, 10 g protein, 28 g carbohydrates (24 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 12 g fat (4 g saturated)
These pancakes, created by Goulding, are not only packed with high-quality protein, but also lighter and fluffier than the classic version. Serve with a bit of butter and sugar-free syrup.
1 c cottage cheese
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/2 c milk
3/4 c whole-wheat flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg (optional)
In a large bowl, stir together the cheese, eggs, butter, and milk. Add the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and nutmeg, and blend lightly until just mixed. Grease a griddle with cooking spray and place over medium heat. Put a large scoop of batter on the griddle and use the back of a spoon to spread it out evenly. The pancake is ready to flip when you begin to see small air bubbles form, about 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook for another minute or 2.
Makes about 12 4-inch pancakes
Per pancake: 97 calories, 5 g protein, 8 g carbohydrates (1 g fiber,
2 g sugar), 5 g fat (3 g saturated)
When Mary Dan Eades, M.D., told us about a Greek cheese that makes a great substitute for toast or pancakes, we had our doubts. But then we tried it for ourselves. And sure enough, halloumi cheese doesn't melt when you fry it or grill it -- it simply browns like a pancake. (Just top with sugar-free syrup.) The upshot is that it's packed with protein and doesn't raise blood sugar or insulin, which signals your body to store fat. All of which makes it an excellent breakfast food. Look for it in the specialty-cheese sections of grocery stores, or order it online at halloumicheese.com.
Please consult your physician before starting any diet or exercise program
Wishing You Great Health,
Glen Edward Mitchell
Got a question? Ask Glen!