How to apply the Food Prep Ritual

In a previous newsletter, we introduced the role that environmental factors (e.g., package size, plate shape, lighting, variety, and even the presence of others) can have on food intake. The concept is simple: You have to shape your path to ensure that you consistently make the best possible choices for your health and weight management goals.

Along those lines, you can’t make good choices if you don’t have healthy foods available. Think about how many times you’ve made less than stellar food choices because they were convenient or you were short on time. Well, today I’m going to share some strategies with you that I’ve used with nearly every coaching client to help them positively shape their food environment.

Enter the Food Prep Ritual. The Food Prep Ritual involves planning and preparing some healthy food in advance, so that it’s easily available when you want and need it. This can include:

  • Grocery shopping (or arranging to have food delivered)
  • Menu and meal planning
  • Washing and chopping vegetables
  • Cooking/preparing protein (e.g. cooking up some chicken breasts)
  • Cooking meals in bulk (e.g. casseroles, soups, stews, chili)
  • Preparing the dry ingredients for things like Super Shakes
  • Soaking grains/beans beforehand so that they’ll be ready to cook later
  • Sorting foods into smaller containers or baggies
  • Freezing and refrigerating food for later
  • Planning healthy meals that someone else cooks (e.g. meal delivery service)
  • Looking ahead to ensure healthy eating strategies during the next few days,
  • especially during difficult times (e.g. a busy week, traveling, dealing with a family crisis, etc.)

Here are some examples of how to apply the Food Prep Ritual concept.

The Sunday ritual. This doesn’t have to be a Sunday. It can be any day where you have a few hours to shop, cook, and prepare some food in advance. On this day, you can do things like:

  • Buy groceries for the week (or at least the next several days); stocking up on easy staples such as canned beans, pre-washed veggies, etc.
  • Cook large meals that can be refrigerated or frozen in smaller portions (e.g. chili).
  • Cook lean protein in bulk (e.g. roasting a couple of chickens, boiling several eggs, etc.).
  • Wash, peel, and chop veggies.

The evening ritual. If you are willing to take an extra 15 minutes in the evening, you can often prep enough healthy food for the following day. This can include:

  • Making extra dinner so that they have leftovers for lunch the next day.
  • Putting a bowl of steel-cut oats on the counter to soak overnight; in the morning,
  • the oats will cook in no time flat.
  • Doing a little extra veggie chopping or protein prep while dinner is cooking.
  • Chopping some veggies and meat, putting it in a slow cooker dish, and refrigerating
  • the dish; the next morning, you can pull the cooker dish out of the fridge, pop it into the cooker, turn the cooker on, and enjoy coming home to a delicious home-cooked meal.

The breakfast ritual. This one is for the morning people. If you are willing to take an extra 15 minutes in the morning, you can prep healthy food for the rest of the day. This can include:

  • Making a Super Shake to bring with you to work.
  • Packing a lunch (e.g. pre-frozen chili or other bulk meal, dinner leftovers, a wrap).
  • Doing a little extra veggie chopping or protein prep while breakfast is cooking.
  • Chopping some veggies and meat, putting it in a slow cooker, and the next morning, turn the cooker on, and enjoy coming home to a delicious home-cooked meal.

The 1-minute ritual. Even if you feel you can’t spare 15 minutes, you can at least spare one minute. One-minute “plan and prep” actions can include:

When you’re already at the store:

  • Pick up a rotisserie chicken.
  • Pick up pre-washed vegetables or pre-made salads.
  • Think ahead to the food prep sessions and buy in bulk.
  • Grab an apple or bag of baby carrots to snack on as you peruse the aisles, so you
  • don’t make decisions while being insane from hunger.

When you’re out for dinner:

  • Check out the restaurant’s menu in advance and decide beforehand what to get.
  • Grab a doggie bag.

When you’re already cooking:

  • Chop, wash, or prep one extra item.
  • Put away leftovers immediately into a container for later.
  • After dinner, dump leftover meat bits (e.g. chicken or steak bones, ends of cooked meat, etc.), veggies, grains/beans, etc. into the slow cooker. Cover with water, turn the pot on low, and leave it overnight. In the morning you’ll have delicious soup broth that you can then use as the base for quick soups.

In general:

  • Think “one meal ahead” and “one behavior ahead.” In other words, anticipate what you might need, want, and/or feel in 2-4 hours from now.
  • Anticipate hunger levels and food needs; anticipate feelings like “At 3 pm, I know I’ll want to eat ____.”
  • Call or place an internet order with a healthy meal or grocery delivery service when you know you’ll otherwise struggle to find healthy options.

Fit in 60 Seconds

Fit in 60 Seconds

Regular physical activity and exercise offer a laundry list of amazing, indisputable health benefits. Simply put, regular physical activity can positively impact nearly every aspect of life and every system of the body.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, regular physical activity and exercise are associated with numerous physical and mental health benefits in men and women. All-cause mortality is delayed by regularly engaging in physical activity.

Exercise and physical activity decrease the risk of developing CHD, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer (e.g., colon and breast cancers). Exercise and physical activity:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improve lipoprotein profile, C-reactive protein, and other CHD biomarkers
  • Enhance insulin sensitivity and carbohydrate tolerance
  • Play an important role in weight management
  • Preserve bone mass and reduces the risk of falling
  • Play an important role in the prevention of and improvement in mild to moderate depressive disorders and anxiety
  • Enhance feelings of energy, well-being, quality of life, and cognitive function
  • Is associated with a lower risk of cognitive decline and dementia

See, I told you there was a laundry list of amazing health benefits.

Unfortunately, most people don’t move nearly enough, and research suggests that lack of physical activity is a significant determinant of the overall rise in obesity amongst adults and adolescents. When I ask folks why they don’t exercise, undoubtedly, the number one reason that they give me is that they “don’t have time.”

Fair enough considering that many believe that it takes hours and hours and hours of exercise to obtain benefit. Even the CDC says that adults need 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity aerobic activity to achieve “substantial benefits.”

Guess what? Emerging evidence suggests that you can get as much benefit—if not more—by exercising at higher intensities for as little as 10 minutes, three times per week. You read that correctly: 30 minutes a week, which is 80% less than what you may have been previously led to believe.

In a brand new study published in the journal PLOS ONE, a group of researchers from McMaster University found that 1 minute of intense exercise (within a 10-minute timeframe) performed three times per week was equally effective at improving markers of cardiorespiratory fitness, insulin sensitivity, and levels of mitochondria (the energy “powerhouses” of muscle cells) compared to traditional aerobic training (i.e., 50-minute workouts performed three times per week) despite a 5-fold lower time commitment.

In the study, the interval workout was performed on stationary bicycles and looked like this:

  • 2-minute warmup
  • 20-second all-out sprint (literally, all-out)
  • 2-minute recovery (i.e., light cycling)
  • 20-second all-out sprint
  • 2-minute recovery
  • 20-second all-out sprint
  • 3-minute cooldown

That’s literally 1 minute of intense activity: Fit in 60 seconds! While the study involved the use of a stationary bike, this type of workout could also be performed on a rowing machine or running at a track or up a hill.

Lead author of the study, Professor Martin Gibala (who’s championed research on time-efficient workout strategies) said, “Most people cite ‘lack of time’ as the main reason for not being active. Our study shows that an interval-based approach can be more efficient—you can get health and fitness benefits comparable to the traditional approach in less time.”

Getting Healthier by The Day

Recently, one of my clients offered some truly sage advice when she shared her recipe for health and fitness success: Getting healthier by the day. This approach—this mindset, this attitude—is a key component to a sustainable, long-term successful journey to improved health, body composition, and performance for a number of reasons as it:

This approach is really cool because it highlights action (i.e., what can you do right now, today), and it emphasizes the variables within your control: your behaviors and your attitudes.

It also helps you take on a more proactive mindset—instead of relying on being reactive. It also focuses our attention on behavior-based goals.

When we talk about goals, it’s important to distinguish between outcome- and behavior-based goals. Outcome-based goals (e.g., lose ‘x’ pounds) specify what we’d like to happen at the end of a certain time period. Generally speaking, outcomes are usually out of our control.

On the other hand, behavior-based goals are typically within our full control, and they specify what actions must be taken to get to the desired outcome. From an exercise standpoint, you might have a behavior-based goal of exercising for 45 minutes five times per week. From a nutrition standpoint, maybe it means boosting your protein intake, setting aside time for food prep, or doing a kitchen makeover to clear your house of tempting junk and trigger foods.

This mindset is also key because it highlights progress. In other words, good nutrition and being healthy is not about perfection; it’s about improvement, the process, the journey. It’s about making the best, wisest choices as often as possible. It’s about living with purpose and getting up each day being your “best self,” with integrity, and it’s about being self-compassionate and kind to yourself. It’s about pursuing health and wellness.

This attitude encourages a habit-based approach, which is sustainable and breeds success. In his book, The Power of Less, author Leo Babauta demonstrates the power and importance of taking things one step at a time. Specifically, Babauta conducted some informal behavior change experiments, and he found that:

  • If he assigned himself one practice/task/habit, he could do it consistently 85% of the time, which is very good.
  • If he assigned himself two new practices at a time, his success rate dropped dramatically, down to 35%.
  • If he assigned himself three or more new practices at a time, he was barely able to do anything!

The take-home point is, for lasting change, it’s crucial to focus on one small thing at a time. If possible, it’s often best to make it a daily practice. The more conscious you are of your “task,” the more likely you are to be mindful of it and stick with it.

This attitude promotes awareness, which encourages progress and growth. Awareness—paying attention to what is happening and why—allows us to:

  • Gain control
  • Lower stress and frustration
  • Prevent bad decisions before they happen, rather than feeling guilty afterward
  • Learn what we like and don’t like, what our “triggers” are, and how to work proactively
  • Recognize that we’re human
  • Bring out our best selves

Embrace the getting healthier by the day mindset, and take control of your health, nutrition, and body transformation journey. As yourself, “What’s one thing that I can do today, right now, to improve my health, fitness, and performance?”

Focus: Clear the Clutter

We live in a fast-paced world with tons of distractions. It’s easy to get caught up in “multi-tasking,” continually investing only your partial attention to multiple activities (i.e., putting your eggs in many baskets). It’s not your fault; there are so many things demanding your attention that focus, to put it gently, is a challenge.

Focus is an essential mental skill, and those folks who can harness and sharpen their mental ninja skills are more likely to execute key tasks efficiently and effectively, stay focused on what they want, and are more likely to accomplish their goals.

The first challenge of focusing is to clearly define what you truly want. Pertinent to this conversation is that your behaviors, actions, and attitudes (the variables that you control) are a direct reflection of your identity (i.e., who you are or who you want to be), your values (i.e., what’s important to you), and priorities (i.e., what you think should come first).

In other words, focus comes from a clear purpose and intention.

In order to help you stay on track—whether it be getting in your workouts, sticking with your nutrition plan, being a better parent, or performing better at work—here are a few strategies that can help you stay focused on what truly matters.

The Morning Check-In

  • Write down your goals, values, and priorities.
  • First thing in the morning, review these stated goals, values, and priorities.
  • Do this every morning.

The Bookend Ritual

  • Write down your goals, values, and priorities and review them in the morning.
  • In the evening, do a “post-game” analysis to see how your behaviors matched up. If your behaviors didn’t match up with your stated goals, values, and priorities, make adjustments accordingly.
  • Using your “post-game” analysis, create an action plan for the following day.
  • Next morning, review the previous day’s plan along with stated goals, values, and priorities.

Daily Goals in Your Pocket
A personal favorite, this involves writing down your small daily goals on a piece of paper and keeping it in your pocket.

Goal Check-In
Take a moment to “check-in” before making any decision that feels impulsive or compulsive. Ask yourself:

  • What do I want right now?
  • What do I ultimately want?
  • Am I willing to sacrifice my goals and values for what I want right now?
  • Could I wait a little while? Sometimes it only takes about five minutes of “delaying discomfort” to stay the course. Have you ever heard of the “Stanford Marshmallow Experiment?” Check it out…if little kids can do it, so can you.

It’s okay if you get distracted. We all do. The best athletes, meditators, and successful professionals do too; however, they’re really good at returning to focus. In other words, if your thoughts wander or you get slightly off track, try the following:

  • Realize that it’s normal
  • Pick up the pieces
  • Identify important lessons, patterns of behavior, and/or environmental circumstances that may have triggered you to get off track
  • Re-focus using your preferred goal review strategy
  • And bounce back as quickly as possible—better than ever
Whole Eggs Better than Egg Whites

Why whole eggs are better than egg whites

You see, most people are totally confused and brainwashed into thinking that whole eggs are “bad” for you and that egg whites are somehow the epitome of health. And while there is nothing necessarily “wrong” with egg whites (they’re a quality protein source), the YOLKS are where the majority of an egg’s nutrition lies.

**The yolk contains more than 90% of vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants contained in an egg

**The yolk contains ALL the fat, and it’s super healthy, hormone-balancing fat (fat is not bad for you)

**The yolk contains HALF the protein, and is actually needed to balance out the amino acid profile found in egg whites

Why in the world would anyone throw out all that nutrition? Just another case of misinformation to blame!

Bottom line, whole eggs are premium, quality nutrition, and even better, they’re one of the most inexpensive forms of fat-burning, health-boosting nutrition around. Even organic, free range eggs come in at less than 50 cents for 10 grams of protein and more vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants than you can count.

But won’t eating whole eggs increase your cholesterol levels? No. Your body is smarter than you think, and if you eat more cholesterol your body will just internally produce less. If you avoid cholesterol in your diet, your body will just make more.

In the end, cholesterol levels will remain pretty constant over a wide range of dietary intakes. Besides, there are plenty of studies showing that whole eggs actually increase the HDL “good” cholesterol for a more optimal, healthful cholesterol ratio.

At my house, we go through more than a dozen eggs each week and typically enjoy these versatile treats 3 – 4 days a week. Scrambled, hard-boiled, over easy, sunny side up, in a salad, as part of an omelet…there’s no shortage of ways to enjoy an egg!

Artificial Sweetners

Artificial Sweeteners: Good or Bad?

When it comes to artificial sweeteners, what good news have you heard about them recently? More and more research is accumulating and highlighting the potential negative health effects of artificial sweeteners on gut health, mood, cognitive function, metabolism, and weight management.

One of the largest impacts may be on gut health, as research has shown that consumption of artificial sweeteners may significantly reduce the amount of healthy bacteria in the gut. In a recent study published in the journal Nature, a team of researchers found that after just 5 days of using a common artificial sweetener, participants experienced significant changes in the composition and function of their gut microbiome (i.e., gut dysbiosis).

Compelling evidence suggests that gut dysbiosis (an imbalance between good and bad bacteria) participates in the development of increased body fat, reduced carbohydrate tolerance, and an unhealthy inflammatory response. Research has even shown that gut dysbiosis can increase the amount of calories you absorb from food.

At a recent meeting of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, researchers found that a group of individuals who regularly consumed the equivalent of 3 ½ packets of artificial sweeteners per day showed signs of impaired thyroid function. Your thyroid gland is your body’s “master controller,” and it’s responsible for setting your metabolic rate. Impaired thyroid function equals decreased metabolic rate. Not good.

What about diet soda? Can that hinder weight loss? Recent research suggests that it just might.

In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 62 women, who regularly consumed diet beverages and were trying to lose weight, were randomly and evenly divided into two groups. One group replaced zero-calorie diet beverages with water while the other half continued to drink diet sodas— but they were limited to only one per day.

The women followed the exact same weight loss program for 24 weeks, and as expected, all of the women lost weight. However, the women who replaced diet beverages with water lost 16% more weight than the women who drank diet sodas, and the women who drank water experienced a 70% increase insulin sensitivity. Better insulin sensitivity generally means being able to eat more carbs while still losing fat.

There’s still more, as artificial sweeteners have been shown to affect mood and brain health. In a study recently published in the journal Research in Nursing & Health, researchers from the University of North Dakota found that folks consuming a moderate amount of aspartame for 8 days were more irritable in mood, exhibited more depression, and performed worse on spatial orientation tests.

With all of that in mind, if you currently use artificial sweeteners, it may be time to reconsider. If you’re looking for a low-calorie substitute, the great news is that there are numerous healthy, natural alternatives made with stevia, erythritol (a natural sugar alcohol that’s friendly on the digestive system), and naturally-occurring plant fibers that also support gut health.

Late night eating

To Eat or Not to Eat…Busting the Late-Night Eating Myth

Contrary to popular belief, eating after a certain time at night does NOT magically make you gain weight.

Sure, this “rule” can be useful when you consider the types of munchies and junk food that many folks snack on late at night. As a result, it may “work” simply by displacing some less than stellar food choices. However, when you eat is not nearly as important as what and how much eat.

All of this is refreshing to hear because, like most folks, you’ve likely experienced late-night cravings, which may partially be explained as Father Time working against you. Yep, studies show that satiety—feelings of fullness and satisfaction—actually decreases as the day wears on.

By not eating or by limiting your food choices at night, you may be self-sabotaging yourself. In fact, you may even be holding yourself back from getting the results you want and deserve. You see, choosing the right foods in the appropriate amounts can crush cravings, leave you feeling full and satisfied, boost your metabolism, accelerate your fat loss, and build calorie-burning lean muscle mass.

The centerpiece of the evening meal or snack should be protein. High-protein meals boost metabolism and help keep you feeling full and satisfied. What’s more, studies also show that consuming a specific type of slow-digesting milk protein (called casein) before sleep can help build calorie-burning lean muscle mass and promote recovery—while you sleep! Some of my favorite choices include cottage cheese and Greek yogurt (both great sources of casein), eggs, and animal proteins (including beef, poultry, wild game, and fish).

You may have heard that it’s best to avoid carbs at night, right? Not so fast. Having some slow-digesting, high-fiber carbs at night can also help keep you full, feeling satisfied, and even help you stick to your nutrition plan better. In a recent study published in the journal Obesity, researchers found that overweight folks who ate a larger percentage of their daily carbohydrates at dinner lost more weight, body fat, and inches from their waistlines compared to a group that ate the same number of daily calories in a more traditional way (e.g., more carbs at breakfast and lunch).

Not only that, this strategy of eating more carbs later in the day helped shift hunger hormones, resulting in less hunger throughout the day. What’s more, eating some carbs later may help reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can disrupt sleep. Carbs also promote the release of a “feel-good” molecule called serotonin, which promotes satiety, feelings of wellbeing, and restful night’s sleep. So, don’t be afraid to include a portion of beans, lentils, potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, or quinoa in your meal.

Also, load your plate up with colorful veggies, which pack a huge nutrition buck with very little calorie bang, help fill you up, and allow you to eat a greater volume of food while reducing calorie intake. My favorite’s come from the cruciferous family, including broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts; however, I encourage you to choose an array of colors—more variety means a greater array of beneficial phytonutrients.

Let’s not fear the fat either. Healthy fats, including avocados, olives, coconut, and nuts, have a powerful satiating effect, helping regulate appetite through the release of key hormones. These fats are also essential to make sure that your body absorbs and utilizes all those beneficial phytonutrients from your veggies.

3 Breakfast Foods

3 Best Foods to Eat for Breakfast

Whether or not breakfast is the “most important meal of the day” is a debate that rages on, and many researchers and health pros will be quick to tell you that “breakfast skipping” is strongly associated with weight gain and the prevalence of obesity.

Generally speaking, correlational studies have found that folks who skip breakfast tend to have poor overall diet quality and make poor food choices compared to regular breakfast eaters. Along those lines, a number of studies have found that consuming high-protein breakfast improves appetite control, reduces cravings and snacking, improves diet quality, reduces eating when you’re not truly hungry, and supports healthy weight management.

With that in mind, WHAT you eat for breakfast can truly make a difference, and today, I want to share my top 3 breakfast foods.

Eggs are synonymous with breakfast, and eggs provide one of the highest quality sources of protein. However, there’s much more to the incredible edible egg. They are one of the few foods that are a good source of vitamin D. Low levels of the “sunshine vitamin” are linked to obesity, excess belly fat, poor insulin sensitivity, low testosterone, insufficient thyroid function, poor mood, and more! Eggs are also a very good source of healthy fats, which are linked to cardiovascular health and correlated to optimal levels of sex hormones like testosterone. Not only that, researchers have found that a breakfast that’s higher in fat and protein and lower in carbs can lead to greater fat burning throughout the day, as well as improved profiles of the stress hormone cortisol.

Greek yogurt is second on my list of top breakfast foods because it is a very good source of protein, which boosts metabolism, improves appetite control, accelerates fat loss, supports healthy blood sugar management, builds calorie-burning lean muscle mass, and promotes recovery and feelings of wellbeing. Greek yogurt is also a great source of probiotics, including one particular strain that was shown in recent study published in the British Journal of Nutrition to help folks lose weight and keep it off.

While there are so many great breakfast foods, my next favorite…bananas. I’m sure that may come as a surprise to some; you might even say I’m bananas. However, bananas are a nutrient powerhouse, and they are a good source of vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium, manganese, biotin, and copper. What’s more, I’m especially fond of bananas because they are one of the few foods that’s a great source of resistant start, which is a specific type of prebiotic fiber that feeds that healthy bacteria of the gut, increases feelings of fullness, reduces food intake both acutely and in subsequent feedings, increases fat burning, decreases fat storage, improves insulin sensitivity, and increases calorie burn. And to think that some people think bananas are “bad”…Ripe bananas contain less resistant starch than green bananas, and I usually keep my semi-ripe bananas in the refrigerator, which stops the ripening process, to preserve as much resistant starch as possible.

Detox

The Truth about Detox Diets

There’s no doubt about it, the promises of detox diets and cleanses are alluring:

  • “Jump start your weight loss”…
  • ”Eliminate impurities”…
  • ”Drop 21 pounds in 10 days”…
  • ”Expel toxins”…
  • ”Revitalize and re-energize your body”…
  • ”Whisk away polluting nasties”…
  • ”Fast, easy weight loss”…
  • ”Purify the body”…
  • “Lose weight like the celebrities”…
  • ”Flush away toxins”

But do they work? Can they provide the health boosts they guarantee? Are they the perfect recipe that the proponents would like you to believe? Or, are they a recipe for disaster and self-sabotage, contributing to a vicious cycle of weight loss and regain, and reinforcing poor eating habits and relationships with food?

One of the most challenging aspects of assessing the various detox diets and cleanses, which tend to be interchangeably used terms and are typically characterized by severe food and calorie restriction, is that you’d be hard-pressed to find a specific scientific definition of either.

In one investigation into 15 popular detox diets, a group of researchers found that no two companies use the same definition for “detox.” Not only that, the researchers found that no program or company could name the supposed “toxins” targeted by its detox, and the advocates were not able to provide any scientific evidence to back up their detox claims, leading the researchers to conclude that “‘detox’ as used in product marketing is a myth. Many of the claims about how the body works were wrong and some were even dangerous.

While the detox industry promotes “purification,” “cleansing,” and “elimination,” it’s incredibly important to point that the human body has evolved highly sophisticated mechanisms for eliminating toxins. The liver, kidneys, gastrointestinal system, skin, and lungs all play a role in the excretion of unwanted substances, without chemical intervention. For example, the liver and kidneys both serve as exceptionally effective “detox” organs, converting toxic chemicals into less harmful ones and promoting the excretion of unwanted chemicals.

The Dietitians Association of Australia has also heavily criticized detoxes. Dietitian Melanie McGrice says, “The problem with [detox] diets is that they’re all about restrictive eating patterns that you can’t stick to over the long haul and may even undermine your health. What you lose on these detox diets is usually fluid, healthy gut bacteria, electrolytes—all things that keep your body healthy—rather than fat. And you don’t need to go on a severe detox because your body has an inbuilt detox system: the lungs, liver, and kidneys working every minute of the day.”

In a review study published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, Australian researchers combed through the currently available research to assess whether there was any clinical evidence to support the use of detox diets for weight management or toxin elimination, and they concluded, “Although the detox industry is booming, there is very little clinical evidence to support the use of these diets. To the best of our knowledge, no randomized controlled trials have been conducted to assess the effectiveness of commercial detox diets in humans.” They were, however, able to identify a number of concerns and health risks, including the potential for malnutrition.

The take-home point is that there’s no medical evidence indicating that specialized detoxification programs are needed to rid the body of toxins, and these programs that assure you to be effective solutions and quick fixes are built on empty promises.

With that being said, just because the body is equipped with the machinery it needs to “cleanse” and “detoxify” itself and to do so remarkably well, that does not mean that exposure to environmental toxins, pollutants, pesticides, food additives, etc., is not a big deal. That point should not be lost, and in an upcoming newsletter, I’ll share with you several strategies that you can implement to protect you from toxins and to fortify your body’s detoxification defense systems

breakfast food

Top 5 Proteins for Breakfast

While there’s an ongoing debate about whether breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day, one thing is for certain: If you are a breakfast-eater, then what you eat can make a big difference in controlling your appetite and food choices later in the day.

Researchers have found substantial improvements in appetite control and satiety (i.e., feelings of fullness and satisfaction) when folks consume a higher protein compared with lower protein breakfast (e.g., ready-to-eat cereal, bagels, toast, etc.), and that leads to decreased hunger, reduced calorie intake, and ultimately, fat loss.

But the benefits of high-protein meals don’t stop with helping keep you feeling fuller, longer. Protein-rich foods also boost the metabolism to a far greater extent than foods high in carbs and fats—2 to 10 times as much, in fact. What’s more, diets that are high in protein have consistently been shown to lead to greater fat loss and better body composition, and they’ve also been shown to prevent weight regain, promote long-term weight maintenance, and help preserve metabolic rate when dieting.

With that in mind, it’s a great idea to include plenty of protein in your diet, starting with at least 30 grams of high-quality protein at breakfast. Along those lines, here are my top breakfast choices.

Organic Greek yogurt and cottage cheese are both excellent sources of protein, and a number of studies have shown that dairy consumption may lead to even greater losses in body fat and increases in muscle mass. What’s more, Greek yogurt is also a rich in probiotics, including strains from the Lactobacillus family of bacteria, which have been shown to may help folks lose weight and keep it off.

When choosing dairy, it’s best to opt for organic, as studies have shown that dairy from pasture-raised cows is significantly higher in omega-3 fats—which are anti-inflammatory and promote heart health, boost mood, support brain health, and lubricate joints—and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has been shown to improve body composition, enhance immunity, and promote a healthy inflammatory response.

One of my favorite breakfast options, especially when I’m on the go and short on time, is a Super Shake made with a high-quality protein supplement blended with some berries, spinach, and almond butter. When choosing a protein supplement, I recommend a blend of “fast” (i.e., whey) and “slow” proteins (i.e., casein), as studies suggest that this “time-released” combination is superior for appetite control (i.e., satiety), body composition, performance, and recovery.

Eggs are synonymous with breakfast, and they’re also a fantastic source of high-quality protein and a dense source of key nutrients, including vitamin D and selenium, which help fortify the immune system. Just like dairy, it’s best to invest in eggs from pasture-raised hens, which, compared to standard store-bought eggs, contain 2 times more omega-3 fats, 6 times more vitamin D, 3 times more vitamin E, and 7 times more beta-carotene. They are also a great source of choline, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which support brain and eye health.

What goes great with eggs? Steak, that’s what. When researchers from the University of Missouri fed women 35 grams of protein from beef and egg sources for breakfast, they found that the high-protein breakfast increased satiety, improved appetite control, and reduced cravings and snacking behaviors. Over the course of 12 weeks, the researchers found that consuming that very same high-protein breakfast of beef and eggs prevented fat gain, decreased hunger, and reduced daily calorie intake.

In addition to being an excellent source of protein, beef is also packed with key vitamins and minerals, including several B vitamins, zinc, iron, and phosphorus. Like dairy and eggs, grass-fed beef from pasture-raised cows also has a better nutritional profile than beef from grain-fed animals, containing about 50% more omega-3 fats and nearly 3 times more CLA.