I’m always looking for ways to get more out of my morning workout and eating the right breakfast might be my newfound secret. I was psyched to read that eating a breakfast made with “slow-release” carbohydrates, such as oatmeal or bran cereal, 3 hours before I exercise may help me burn more fat, according to a recent study. Here’s why: in the study eating “slow-release” carbohydrates didn’t spike blood sugar as high as eating refined carbohydrates, such as white toast. In turn, insulin levels didn’t spike as high and because insulin plays a role in signaling your body to store fat, having lower levels may help you burn fat.
While I like oatmeal, I can’t eat it every day. So here are 5 delicious breakfast recipes to help fight fat:
1. Scandinavian Muesli (recipe below): Serve this Scandinavian cereal with low-fat yogurt or nonfat milk to start your day off with whole grains and some protein and calcium-rich dairy. You can substitute any combination of chopped dried or fresh fruit for the raisins—apricots, apples, figs, cherries or cranberries would all be delicious. Try walnuts or hazelnuts instead of the almonds if you like. Ground flaxseeds stirred in at the end provide a boost of heart-healthy omega-3s.
2. Wake-Up Smoothie: With a stash of berries in your freezer, you can jump-start your day with this nutritious, tasty smoothie in just minutes. It provides vitamin C, fiber, potassium and soy protein.
3. Quick Breakfast Taco: A smaller cousin of the breakfast burrito, the breakfast taco made with reduced-fat Cheddar and egg substitute is a satisfying and healthy breakfast option.
4. Breakfast Parfait: A little low-fat dairy and some vitamin-rich fruit and you’ve just started your day right, nutritionally speaking.
5. Banana-Bran Muffins: Ripe bananas are just right for these moist bran muffins. Add a handful of dark chocolate chips to entice children to enjoy a fiber-rich treat.
Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
2 cups old-fashioned or quick-cooking (not instant) rolled oats
2/3 cup rye flakes or wheat flakes (see Note)
1/3 cup coarsely chopped almonds (1 3/4 ounces)
2 tablespoons flaked coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
1/2 cup raisins
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of cinnamon
1/4 cup flaxseeds, ground (optional; see Tip)
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Spread oats and rye (or wheat) flakes on the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Stir in almonds and coconut; bake until the oats are fragrant, about 8 minutes. Turn off the oven. Stir raisins into the muesli.
2. Microwave honey for 10 seconds in a glass measuring cup. Stir in vanilla and cinnamon; drizzle over the muesli and stir to coat. Return the muesli to the turned-off warm oven and let cool completely, about 2 hours. Stir in flaxseeds, if using.
Makes 8 servings, about 1/2 cup each.
Per serving:196 calories; 5 g fat (1 g sat, 2 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 34 g carbohydrate; 6 g protein; 5 g fiber; 6 mg sodium; 209 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Fiber (18% daily value).
Ingredient Note: Rye or wheat flakes are simply rye or wheat kernels that have been steamed and rolled, oatmeal-style. Look for them in natural-foods stores.
Tip: Grind flaxseeds in a clean coffee grinder or dry blender just before using.
By Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D.
Brierley’s interest in nutrition and food come together in her position as an associate editor at EatingWell. Brierley holds a master’s degree in Nutrition Communication from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. A Registered Dietitian, she completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Vermont.