Friday, December 17, 2010

Breakfast of Champions

As with any major accomplishment in life, people who lose a lot of weight absolutely love to talk about it. And I am certainly no exception. Any chance I get, I am eager to share my story, and more importantly, to give advice to others who are struggling with diet and exercise themselves.  Yesterday, I had the opportunity to talk to someone who is considering undergoing gastric bypass surgery.  As an advocate for natural weight loss, my hope is to talk him out of it.  "The reason surgery isn't the answer is because the problem isn't physical," I told him. "It's up here." I said, pointing to my head. "And it's not one big thing. It's the little decisions that you make each and every day that make the difference."

As we were discussing these little decisions, one thing he mentioned is that he doesn't eat breakfast.  It's astonishing how often I hear this from people who struggle with weight loss.  And, admittedly, I did it myself for several years.  I used to blame it on not having an appetite in the mornings, but I found out that when I ate more sensible dinners (and didn't eat so close to bedtime), that I actually started waking up hungry.  And eating a good breakfast helped me make better decisions at lunchtime, because I wasn't crazy-ravenous (or "hangry" as I like to call it).  A good lunch helped me to eat a good dinner, and a cycle of better eating was born.  A lot of times, it's not about changing how much you eat as much as it is changing how you eat. 

So what makes a good breakfast?  A lot of mornings, I like to power up the rice cooker and whip up a bowl of oats, topping it with some PB, jelly and granola.  However, sometimes I hit snooze one too many times and all I have time to do is grab a granola bar.  

It's important to note that all bars are not made equally.  Many of them have a lot of refined sugar, and worse, little to no protein.  Protein is a really important aspect of a quality breakfast because it's what helps keep you feeling full. For me, I try to make sure I eat something filling in the morning. While ideally I like to have a mid-morning snack to keep my metabolism going, on many days the craziness sets in at the office and it's lunchtime before I know it.

So what makes a good bar?  When I was out in Las Vegas for the half-marathon two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to spend some time talking with Robb Dorf, founder of PureFit nutrition bars, at the race expo.  He gave me some samples to try.  PureFit bars are all-natural, high-protein, with no artificial sweeteners.  They are also wheat-free, gluten-free, kosher, vegan, non-dairy, and have no trans-fat or hydrogenated oils.  Based on all that, I was surprised that they actually tasted great!  They have five different flavors: Almond Crunch, Berry Almond Crunch, Chocolate Brownie, Granola Crunch and Peanut Butter Crunch. 

I had half of a Chocolate Brownie bar as my breakfast before the race, and it was perfect for a pre-race meal.  It was just enough to get something in my stomach, but had nothing artificial that would upset my stomach during the run.  I have also been eating them on my non-oatmeal mornings, and they are really filling and satisfying.  If you'd like to try PureFit bars, check out their website.  For $9.95, you can get a sample kit with one of each flavor.

It doesn't have to be a granola bar or oatmeal, but it should be something. Getting breakfast in your stomach each and every day will not only kick-start your metabolism, but studies have shown that it'll also help you make better food choices throughout the rest of the day. 

When it comes to weight loss, we need to use every tool we can in order to keep fighting the battle of the bulge.  Eating breakfast is one of those tools... so choose your weapon wisely!

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