August 2, 2011

No Excuses: Healthy Breakfasts on the Go

As a trainer, I rarely get to interact with my clients in what we call a "meal environment" - that is, the place, time, and mood associated with the foods a person chooses to eat.  For this reason, I often find myself frustrated when a client comes to me for an early morning session claiming that they "weren't hungry" or "couldn't find time to eat."

When a client tells me they aren't hungry in the morning, that is a telltale sign that they either a) ate dinner too close to bedtime, or b) overate carbohydrates with their evening meal.  The human body is meant to process foods (particularly carbs) for energy, but when too much energy is stored without adequate activity to use it (as in, eating a big meal and then heading off to sleep), that energy turns to fat and is essentially wasted - resulting in a sluggish, full feeling upon waking.

The first line of defense, of course, is to eat a dinner that is rich in lean protein and produce and has limited - if any - grain-based carbohydrates.  Try and "frontload" your carbs earlier in the day, particularly before your workouts, to make sure you are maximizing the energy that they provide to the body.

The second key point, then, is to eat breakfast!  Eating within an hour of waking ensures that you fire up your metabolism for the rest of the day, burning more calories, producing more energy, and leaving you less ravenous at your later meals (again, good for your overall energy balance).

But what to eat?

If you can't be wooed by the old standbys (low-sugar cereal and nonfat milk; old fashioned oatmeal with fresh fruit; 0% Greek yogurt with low-sugar granola and berries), then we've got a list of drive-thru (or in some cases, a quick walk-in) options that will ensure you get a balanced morning meal in a hurry.  We rank them by calories, but make sure to check into the protein/carb information to make sure you're making the right choice - morning exercisers want more carbs at breakfast; evening exercisers should focus on protein in the A.M.

Dunkin' Donuts - Egg White Turkey Sausage Wake-Up Wrap - 150 calories, 11g protein, 14g carbs
Subway - Western Egg White & Cheese Muffin Melt - 160 calories, 15g protein, 19g carbs
Denny's - Scrambled Egg Whites, Chicken Sausage & Fruit - 230 calories, 19g protein, 19g carbs
McDonald's - Fruit & Maple Oatmeal - 260 calories, 7g protein, 48g carbs

Au Bon Pain - Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal - 280 calories, 8g protein, 56g carbs
Jamba Juice - Small Berry Topper Ideal Meal - 300 calories, 9g protein, 59g carbs
IHOP - Simple & Fit  Veggie Omelette - 320 calories; 21g protein, 40g carbs
Panera - Breakfast Power Sandwich - 330 calories, 22g protein, 31g carbs

Cosi - Spinach Florentine Breakfast Wrap - 334 calories, 24g protein, 21g carbs
Starbucks - Protein Artisan Snack - 370 calories, 13g protein, 36g carbs

Remember, eating at home or bringing a meal to work or school is always our top recommendation for breakfast - this way, you can control the sodium content, portion size, and sugar additives of your meal.  However, studies are conclusive about the fact that getting in a morning meal is good for your waistline, brainpower, and overall health - and we'll eat to that! :)

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