Less fat, fewer cravings, more energy.
When I was a child, I used to pour myself a huge bowl of sweet industrial cereals drowned in cow’s milk first thing in the morning. If I didn’t feel like it, I would heat English muffins and melt butter and Nutella on top.
Then I slowly became aware of what a healthy and balanced diet was supposed to look like. Little by little, I changed my eating habits, starting with breakfast.
When I was 17 I discovered oatmeal. I came up with a perfect recipe, ready in 2 minutes in the microwave, which I made every morning. At first, with regular oats. Then I learned the benefits of whole-grain oats. However, even though it was better than cereal, it wasn’t very balanced: I always put two pieces of chocolate inside to melt and covered it with a light coating of brown sugar.
Then I got tired of it. Especially since summer had arrived and I was more in the mood for something fresh and light. So I switched to Greek yogurt with muesli. I liked it very much. It reminded me of the breakfasts of my childhood, but more nourishing since Greek yogurt is much more filling than milk.
In the same way that I chose wholegrain oats for my porridge, one day I became aware of the effects of sugar and replaced my muesli with one with no added sugar. I opt for those containing a maximum of 10g of sugar per 100g. The difference was immediate: I felt less inclined to get a refill of cereals after finishing my portion, and I was subject to fewer cravings.
I spent lockdown at my parents’ house. They used to eat white bread with butter and jam. I speak in the past tense because they adopted the same style of breakfast as I did when I told them the effect this change had on my health and well being.
During this time, however, dipping my bread with jam in my café au lait became one of the best moments of my day. We have really good bread in France. Have you ever tasted a real baguette? You should!
But once lockdown was over, I moved into my new flat. And I didn’t feel like keeping this habit. I knew I could do better for my body. And I was right.
No more 10:30 AM hunger
I usually wake up between 7 and 8 a.m. and always start my day with breakfast. My parents raised me that way. Even on stressful first days of school or when I had exams, they wouldn’t let me go to school on an empty stomach. I kept this habit. Now if I don’t eat within two hours of waking up I feel sick.
Breakfast is one of my favorite moments of the day. It’s the way I like to wake up: getting out of bed, and starting the day softly, with food and a good coffee.
But there was a problem. For as long as I can remember, I always felt hungry between 10 and 11 in the morning. When I was younger I always had something to nibble on. But when I stopped, it turned into a real famine.
Consequence: I ate too much at lunch.
When I started looking for ideas to change my breakfast, this was one of the problems I wanted to avoid. Further requirement: I wanted something packed with protein since I exercise for one hour a day almost every day.
My cravings and hunger were mainly due to too many carbos and sugar and too little protein, which are among the most nutritious nutrients.
“A new study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics finds that eating food with a higher protein count really does make people feel fuller. […] “Our paper did show that indeed, higher protein intake led to greater sensations of fullness,” says study co-author Richard Mattes, distinguished professor of nutrition science at Purdue University.” — source: Time
Proteins are also what builds muscles. If you want to lose weight or gain muscle, you should therefore consider replacing some of your carbohydrates with protein. Especially when you know the effects of carbs:
“All carbohydrates turn into glucose and raise our blood sugar. But some do it faster than others.” — source: Harvard Health Publishing
To cut a long story short, carbs provide your body with a lot of energy, but if you choose the wrong ones, they can quickly turn into fat. For example, it’s best to choose wholegrain cereals:
Refined carbohydrates, such as white rice and white pasta, have had their fiber and nutrients removed. Whole grains, such as brown rice and whole-wheat pasta, have not. Therefore, the glucose from refined carbohydrates can get into the blood stream faster than the glucose from whole grains. — source: Harvard Health Publishing
Make no mistake: you need carbohydrates. But not too much.
With regard to sugar, too much of it causes a spike in insulin, which leads to cravings.
“Insulin, produced by the pancreas, maintains energy balance and is extremely sensitive to dietary sugar and carbohydrate consumption. When we have not eaten, low blood sugar and low insulin levels stimulate hunger. As we eat, insulin levels rise signaling the body that energy in the form of glucose is available. The body’s cells absorb glucose from the blood stream. Excess glucose is converted to fat and stored as body fat.
If your diet changes to include more protein and fat than carbohydrates, over time less insulin is produced and insulin levels stabilize. Blood sugar and hunger are controlled and most importantly, fat and cholesterol are NOT stored. In fact, the body begins to burn body fat leading to healthy weight loss while insulin levels remain stable.” — Dr. Jeffry Gerber
I needed more protein, fewer carbohydrates, and less sugar.
I had a lot of things to change. That’s why I changed everything.
Delicious, nourishing and balanced breakfasts
I alternate between two recipes. Depending on my mood, my hunger, and what’s going to rot in my fridge. Yes, single life, you know that.
Avocado toasts + ham
This one is composed of 3 small pieces of organic wholemeal bread, half an avocado, and a slice of chicken ham. Salt and pepper, a little chili pepper, and it’s delicious.
I accompany this with a fruit or compote without added sugar, and of course my coffee with milk.
The avocado is full of good fats. As for the ham, it provides some protein. When combined with wholemeal bread, I’ll stay well-fed at least until lunch.
I used the app Lifesum to find out what were the nutrients contained in this breakfast, and here they are:
349 kcal / 11.7g proteins / 35.4g carbs / 16.1g fats
To give you an idea, depending on my weight, height, and activity, the app recommends that I eat 85g of protein, 213g of carbohydrates, and 57g of fat per day.
Fried eggs + whole wheat bread
Just as delicious, I cook 2 fried eggs and eat them with the same 3 small pieces of bread. I also add a fruit or compote and some coffee with milk.
There are a little more calories in this one, and I find it a little more filling than the avocado version.
456 kcal / 21.6 g protein / 48.5 g carbohydrates / 18.3 g fat
An assessment after one month
During this month, from time to time, I replaced those breakfasts with my muesli. However, I ate it with sheep’s milk instead of cow’s milk, which is more adapted to the human body.
I still ate mainly the two previous breakfasts. And the changes have been incredible :
- I feel full until lunchtime, and sometimes I’m not even hungry, which makes a huge difference to me.
- I have more energy throughout the day.
- I have fewer sugar cravings. These breakfasts help to regulate my insulin level which also makes me feel less hungry throughout the day.
- I have noticed a clear progression in my training routine: my body has built more muscles and I have burned a bit more fat.
This change in diet has brought nothing but benefits. I couldn’t go back to my old habits. Even if, from time to time, a few pancakes (with wholemeal flour of course!), croissants, or bread with jam remain a real pleasure.
These two breakfasts indeed require a little more preparation time. They are also slightly more expensive. But it’s really worth it.
Source : Medium