Starting the day with a breakfast filled with protein, vitamins, and minerals can boost productivity, put you in a better mood, and balance your appetite and satiety levels. While some people feel that breakfast might not be that important, or they simply don't have the appetite, time or desire to eat it, eating a nutrient dense breakfast will do wonders for your wellbeing and performance.
As a certified health coach, I work with clients on carving out time to enjoy a breakfast, whether it is by sitting down at home, with perhaps a good book or the news, or on-the-go for busier mornings. However it must be consumed, a delicious, nutritious breakfast is critical for long-lasting energy, motivation, mental sharpness and physical ability throughout the day.
Plus, a breakfast consisting of protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals can help with emotional stability and make you less likely to deal with cravings, mood swings or energy "crashes" later in the day. While the body might not be hungry upon waking it up, it's still important to eat something. If you'd prefer to eat once you arrive at the office, instead, that's fine! Just keep Greek yogurt on hand or wrap an egg sandwich to take with you. Here are eleven things to eat for breakfast for a more productive day ahead.
1. Toast + Topping
Gourmet toasts are all the rage, and it's easy to make right in your home and in a matter of seconds! "Fiber rich whole grains can help keep your energy up during the day leading to more productivity. Fiber digests slowly helping to maintain stable blood sugars and avoiding a mid-day crash," says Keri Gans, MS, RDN, CDN, an America's Better Sandwich spokeswoman, over email with Bustle. She recommends pairing a slice of bread with "a lean protein (i.e. egg, turkey, chicken, smoked salmon) and a healthy fat (i.e. avocado or drizzle of olive oil)." She suggests protein-rich egg & spinach breakfast thins. You can also spread nut butter for mornings on the go.
2. Hot Water + Lemon
Before picking out your meal, drinking a glass of water with lemon can bring energy to the body and promote alkalinity. Having a glass first thing in the morning helps wake the body up, balance hormones and hydrate sore, stiff muscles, says certified holistic health coach and personal trainer Jen Bruno with J.B. Fitness and Nutrition, over email correspondence with Bustle. It's also great for cleansing.
With choline found in yolk, known to boost brain health, and the rich protein source, eggs make for a terrific breakfast. "Eggs are great to eat for breakfast, especially if you want to have more energy and be more productive throughout the rest of your day," says Mike Starks, CEO of Personal Trainer Food, over email with Bustle. "Eggs can be especially helpful at keeping your memory sharp as a tack. People who consume eggs on a regular basis show reduced rates of memory loss over time, better cognition, and are at lower risk of stroke and dementia," he continues.
4. A Brisk Walk
"If your morning cup of coffee isn't enough to fire you up for the day, try a brisk 10 to 20 minute walk. Walking will dramatically increase your energy and alertness within just a few minutes," advises Starks. "It will also increase your creativity, along with your ability to focus on and complete tasks. These positive effects will last much longer than a cup of coffee will, without giving you a case of the jitters," he adds.
Eating oily fish, such as salmon, provides healthy omega 3 fatty acids, to help improve your mood, and protein, to fill you up. "The oils in seafood, which are especially abundant in several Alaska seafoods, boost your omega-3 fatty acid intake, add staying power to your breakfast and when topped with Dijon mustard or salsa, get your day going with zing," says Joyce A. Nettleton, DSc, Science Communications Consultant, over email with Bustle. She recommends using canned fish as a topping for bread or throwing into an egg dish with veggies, such as in a pesto frittata.
6. Other Omega 3 Fats
Beyond fish, walnuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and even leafy greens can be good sources of this essential fatty acid. "Individuals with depressive symptoms, anxiety disorder, attention deficits and other mood disorders usually have low levels of long-chain omega-3s in their blood and tissues," advices Nettleton. Eating a handful of walnuts with banana, or throwing chia seeds in a smoothie, can be incredibly beneficial for the day ahead.
Not only is watermelon hydrating, which your body needs in the morning, but if you are a morning exerciser, this delicious fruit can help your body recover and relieve muscle strains so that you can be more productive and happier for the day ahead. Its high amino acid L-arginine and L-citrulline contents promote blood vessel health and joint relief, and it also rebalances electrolyte stores post-workout. Other things that help post-workout are ginger, tart cherries, and beets. Plus, always pair with some protein! About 20-30g is ideal.
While beans might not appear to be breakfast food, they are actually great in egg dishes, quinoa bowls and more savory meals. "Plus, beans are high in antioxidants providing amounts equal to those found in foods such as fruits and vegetables," says Alicia Ward, VP of Marketing at Beanitos, over email correspondence with Bustle. They are also brimming with protein, iron and zinc, which can give a boost of energy that is long-lasting and great for the brain. You can also eat beans in veggie patties, which go great with eggs or sandwiches!
9. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese, according to Bruno, is a filling, hearty breakfast that can be made savory or sweet. Experts share that cottage cheese is an excellent source of calcium (about 18%DV in one cup), as well as protein (roughly 25g in one cup). Pair with berries, which also provide immediate energy in terms of simple carbohydrates, as well as antioxidants to sharpen the brain.
While all berries are beneficial, blueberries have been shown to lower risk of Alzheimer's and dementia, as well as boost memory retention and cognitive function. Blueberries also have a lot of fiber, which can keep energy and appetite levels sustained. Pair with protein for a substantial breakfast, such as Greek yogurt, which has tons of protein and gut promoting bacteria, probiotics to reduce inflammation in the body and make you more productive and happier. Or, pair with oatmeal, as oatmeal has lots of fiber to fill you up and prevent cravings and mood swings later in the day.
11. Throw In Veggies
Most people don't consider vegetables to complement breakfast; yet, vegetables bring vitamins, iron, calcium and other important nutrients to power your day. The best way is to mask them: toss in a smoothie, add to an omelet, or bake into quinoa cakes. Bruno recommends eating spinach, as spinach is a great source of iron and zinc, as well as protein, magnesium and a slew of B vitamins to boost mental sharpness.
While heading to kitchen upon lifting the sheets isn't necessary, eating a nutritious breakfast within an hour or so of waking up or following a sweat session is the greatest way to fuel yourself for a busy and productive day ahead. Filling up on vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and protein first thing will stabilize your moods, provide energy and make you happy and excited for what's in store.
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