Start Your Morning Strong: Expert Tips from a Local Family Doctor on Healthy Breakfast Choices

Nicholas Cohen, MD, Columnist

Are you tired of the morning struggle? The battle against fatigue, the relentless search for something – anything – to jolt you awake? It’s a scenario that many face every morning, yet the solution often remains shrouded in mystery. Now, envision this: a morning that ushers in energy, clarity, and a sense of wellbeing. The secret? It’s your breakfast.

As a local family physician, I often ask my patients about their breakfast habits—it’s the very first health decision we make each day. Here are recommendations to help you make the best breakfast choices to kick-start your day.

7 Breakfast Essentials

1) Don’t Skip It: Though skipping breakfast – a form of intermittent fasting – is all the rage, there is good evidence that eating breakfast is vital to your health and energy throughout the day. In the morning, we are better able to burn the calories we eat. Later in the day, we are more likely to store what we eat as fat. It is better to start the day with breakfast, and have an early dinner.

2) Start with Water: Commence your day by quenching your body’s thirst with a tall glass of water. This act invigorates your metabolism, laying the foundation for a day brimming with vitality. Proper hydration combats fatigue and kindles alertness, equipping you to conquer tasks with vigor.

3) Eat Whole, Not Refined, Grains: Whole grains, such as oats, are rich in essential nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They provide sustained energy, keeping you full longer and helping to curb overeating.

And cut back on refined grains. From toast to bagels and those tempting breakfast

cereals, refined grains lack the fiber and nutrients of their whole grain counterparts. These quick-to-digest culprits send blood sugar levels soaring, laying the foundation for an energy crash and the potential pitfalls of weight gain and diabetes.

4) Consume Berries: Start your day with berries to set the stage for a healthier and more vibrant day ahead. Berries give your brain the jumpstart it needs for enhanced focus, clarity, and mental agility. The flavanoids and antioxidants found in berries, support cognitive function and protect the brain from age-related decline.

5) Include Protein: A protein-rich breakfast sets the tone for increased energy, enhanced satiety, and overall well-being. Protein provides a gradual and consistent release of energy, keeping you alert and focused throughout the morning.

Which protein to eat? Nuts and seeds offer heart-healthy fats and a medley of nutrients, while yogurt contributes probiotics for gut health. Opt for egg whites – rather than whole eggs – for an abundance of lean, high-quality protein. The yolks are packed with cholesterol, which causes inflammation and may increase heart disease risk.

6) Eat, Don’t Drink, Your Breakfast: Limit smoothies, fruit juices, oat milk, and sugar-laden coffee. When we gulp down calories in liquid form, we feel less full and tend to overeat compared to when we have to chew our food. Liquid calories also rapidly enter the bloodstream, triggering rapid blood sugar spikes and resulting in midmorning slumps.

7) Drink Filtered Coffee: Enjoy a cup of coffee to increase alertness, enhance well-being, and experience long-term health benefits. The natural caffeine within coffee bolsters cognitive function, yielding improved focus, concentration, and mental alertness. Coffee is the number one source of antioxidants in the American diet, playing a crucial role in reducing risk of

diabetes and heart disease. Using a paper filter removes dipterenes, a compound found in coffee that raises cholesterol.

A Healthy Breakfast Recipe to Try

Overnight Oats (serves 4):

Mix together in large bowl, and chill in the fridge overnight:

● 1 cup of steel-cut oats

● 4 tbsp chia seeds

● 3 tbsp cinnamon

● 2 cups unsweetened almond milk

In the morning, serve with any or all of the following:

● berries, nuts, plain Greek yogurt

Take Action. Start tomorrow with a better breakfast, and a more energized you.

Dr. Nicholas Cohen, a board-certified family physician proudly affiliated with the esteemed Tahoe Forest Health System, is eagerly accepting new patients. Sign up to receive his free Weight Loss Tip of the Week, for more wellness insights.

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