Fuel Your Day
By Lane Dailey, Nutritionist at ClubSport Pleasanton
You roll out of bed, reach for your coffee, and try to wake up enough to start your day. Suddenly it’s three hours later and you still haven’t eaten. You’re probably feeling a bit anxious, maybe a little hungry, but mainly lost in what would be best for you to eat. Sound all too familiar?
First things first, let’s look at what’s going on with your body in the morning. Cortisol levels (our stress hormone) are at their highest point during this time. The only way to lower blood cortisol levels is to eat, so it’s crucial that you feed your body the best fuel to start your day. Not eating will result in prolonged breakdown of muscle protein and will keep cortisol levels elevated, promoting fat storage (particularly in the abdominal area) and stimulating appetite. It’s basically dealing your body more stress than it wants to handle.
No matter how you mix and match it, what your body wants in the morning is hydration, fiber, healthy fats, and protein. What it does not want is sugar. Start the day with sugar and you’re very likely to be chasing cravings all day.
Here are a few tips to ensure you’re fueling your body with the right stuff to start each day.
Hydration. Begin your day by drinking a tall glass of water with half a lemon squeezed into it — yes, even before your coffee. This hydrates your system after a long night of dehydration and also gets your digestive enzymes flowing.
Protein. Use some leftover veggies from last night’s dinner and add them into an omelet, or make a power bowl with half a sweet potato, half an avocado, sautéed greens, and poached eggs on top. Can’t stand eggs in the morning? Consider a healthy shake that contains more than just protein. For example, Pure PaleoMeal, WheyMeal, or VegeMeal by Designs for Health (all available at ClubSport) all get your day started with 20 grams of protein, 3 grams of fat, 7 grams of fiber, and a load of vitamins and minerals with no sugars. Add half an avocado or palmful of nuts on the side with these shakes. That bit of healthy fat really helps prolong that morning energy all the way to lunchtime or powers you through your workout without raising your blood sugar.
On the go. If you’re in need of something quick and convenient, reach for a handful of raw walnuts, one or two hard-boiled eggs, and a green banana. Green bananas are known for being a resistant starch, meaning the sugars in it will digest slowly and last longer. Buy your bananas green, break them apart from the bunch, and keep them in your fridge so they don’t ripen.
Old-fashioned fave. Another common breakfast option is oatmeal. Try turning this typically sweet treat into a savory powerhouse by mixing in ground turkey or chicken sausage, avocado, nuts, and sautéed spinach. It’s outside the box, but if you’ve ever had it, you’ll probably never go back to sweet oats.
Lane Dailey is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Dietitian-Nutritionist with eight years of personal nutrition consulting experience. Previously in New York, she grew a Nutrition Wellness Center at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, The University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell, focusing on pediatric and adult weight management with a wide range of clinical specialties including diabetes, gestational diabetes, cardiology, and oncology.