The Formula for a Balanced Breakfast
Since there is an entire post dedicated to the formula for a balanced meal with typical lunch or dinner foods, it is only fair to do a breakfast edition. In the United States the foods we classify as “breakfast foods” tend to be primarily in the carbohydrate (carbs) food group. When we consume carbs it triggers a cascade of hormonal responses, which can be explained in a future post. But specific to our food balancing, an all-carb breakfast does not nourish our bodies or energy levels the way we need them to. Depending on the type of carb it will have varying effects, but generally it leaves us feeling “empty” an hour or two later, can trigger sugar and carb cravings the rest of the day, give us a mid-morning “crash”, and does not do our blood sugars any good.
The idea is to bring balance to breakfast by including various food groups, which will leave you feeling satisfied for longer and give you sustained energy and blood sugar levels. The goal is not to eliminate carbs from breakfast, although ideal amounts will vary on the individual and their medical and health goals. Let’s say goodbye to the typical oatmeal/milk/fruit (all carb), yogurt/fruit/granola (all carb), fruit/yogurt smoothie (all carb) breakfasts and bring some nourishing balanced options in! This is the formula for a balanced breakfast.
Step 1: Choose Your Carb
Ideally it will be a high fiber and/or a nutrient-dense option.
- Grains: bread, oats, quinoa
- Fruit: seasonal and organic (use the Dirty Dozen List to help prioritize), whole fruit, low glycemic options are best
- Starchy vegetables: sweet potatoes, potatoes, peas, winter squash
- Dairy: carb content will vary on the type of dairy chosen (i.e. yogurt or Greek yogurt or cow’s vs. non-dairy alternative)
- Legumes: beans, lentils
Step 2: Include a Protein
Whether it is animal or plant derived, protein should be included at every meal for optimal body utilization.
- Animal-based: turkey or chicken products, eggs, yogurt, protein powders (i.e. whey, collagen, egg whites)
- Plant-based: nuts and nut butters, seeds and seed butters, protein powders (i.e. pea, hemp, rice, or blends), tempeh, legumes
Step 3: Add Your Fat
Fat is often forgotten with breakfast, but is essential for a nourishing balanced meal and for keeping you satisfied after the meal.
- Dairy: grass-fed and organic if animal derived (i.e. butter, ghee, yogurt, cheese)
- MCT oil
- Coconut products: chunks, oil, butter, milk
- Nuts and nut butters
- Seeds and seed butters
Step 4: Up-Level With a Booster
These are not essential but can help bring the meal to another level with an added punch of nutrition and health benefits.
- Fermented or cultured foods
- Non-starchy vegetables
- Sprouted foods
- Spices and herbs
Putting it Together
Of course this is not an exhaustive list of breakfast options, but it can spark some ideas and maybe get you out the same old breakfast you eat 5 out of 7 days a week.
All meals are listed in the following order: carb + protein + fat + booster.
- Breakfast tacos: tortillas + black beans + guacamole + choose sprouted tortillas, add baby kale or microgreens and salsa
- Smoothie or smoothie bowl: blueberries + organic pea protein + coconut chunks + frozen cauliflower florets or zucchini slices, add cinnamon
- Scramble: butternut squash cubes + chickpeas + goat cheese + onion, garlic, and baby kale
- Chia seed pudding: raspberries + chia seeds + coconut milk and walnuts + cinnamon
- Toast: sweet potato or other toast + almond butter + hemp seeds + cinnamon
- Classic: toast + fried eggs + ghee + choose a sprouted bread or an authentic sourdough, add tomato slices and arugula
- Breakfast hash: sweet potato cubes + scrambled eggs + avocado slices + bell peppers, mushrooms, zucchini add turmeric, black pepper, salt
- Smoothie or smoothie bowl: strawberries + grass fed and organic collagen powder + MCT or coconut oil + baby spinach
- Overnight oats: rolled oats + almond butter + grass fed and organic whey protein + cinnamon
- Parfait: fruit + plain Greek yogurt and cashew butter + flaxseeds + sprouted almonds
Generally I do not give portion or serving sizes unless I am working with you one-on-one. Portions and ratios of macros are very individualized to each person’s body, medical history, health goals, etc.