Breakfast, as the name implies, is a break from the six to 12 hour fast you take as a result of sleep. This morning meal serves to rev your metabolism back up from the simmer it's reduced to at night. The Center for Disease Control says that eating breakfast promotes weight management. But what impact does the kind of nutrients you eat to break-fast have on your weight loss efforts? Carbohydrates or proteins--does it make a difference?
Calories Trump All Other Considerations
In order to lose weight you have to burn more calories than you introduce into your system. So more important than where your calories come from is how many of them you consume. Allow low-density foods, which fill you up for relatively few calories, to dominate your diet; eat smaller portions of high-density foods helps to moderate caloric intake. Use the online Calorie Calculator resource below to estimate your daily calorie requirement, deduct 500 from this figure and make this your daily calorie allowance.
The type of protein or carbohydrate you choose to eat, especially for this jumpstart meal, matters. There are two types of proteins, complete and incomplete. Complete proteins, such as soy beans (and soy products), fish and eggs, contain all the essential amino acids; incomplete proteins do not. To compensate, incomplete proteins should be eaten in complementary pairs. This means eating another food which contains the missing amino acids to make up the difference.
Peas and rice, or bread and cheese are examples of incomplete protein complements. If your protein-rich breakfast choice falls in the incomplete category, consider whether the meal complement, along with the accompanying calories that complement will bring, fits within your daily calorie allowance for weight loss. Some protein-rich foods are high in saturated fats; these sources of proteins should be minimized. One of the great benefits of protein-rich foods is that they tend to offer a high level of satiety because they digest slowly.
But the same could be said for carbohydrates with a low glycemic value. The high fiber content typical of low glycemic carbs offer bulk to your meal which allows you to feel full for relatively few calories. The low carb foods also digest at a much slower pace than their high glycemic counterparts. What's the glycemic load value of your choice breakfast food? (Use the Glycemic Index resource at the end of this article to look it up.) Carbs with a glycemic value below 54 are considered low-carb foods.
Even when eating to lose weight, your diet should cater to your personal tastes or you likely won't stick with it. It's okay to eat to satisfy your cravings, but be mindful that your food choices satisfy your hunger without busting your daily calorie budget. If you favor protein-rich foods for your breakfast such as eggs, milk or turkey meat, then that's what you should eat. You don't want to start your day out feeling deprived and risk overeating later to compensate. Just remember type matters. If you favor carbohydrates for breakfast such as low-carb cereals, or fruit and oatmeal, that's what you should eat. But again remember, type matters. The point is not to deny yourself but to make smarter food choices. Nutritional value matters. How full and satisfied the food eaten leaves you feeling matters. And calories absolutely matter when the goal is to lose weight.