Breakfast is the most important meal of the day… or so they say. I am actually a big believer in breakfast, and although not everyone may follow a morning breakfast plan, I do believe that incorporating breakfast daily can give your body and your brain an early energy boost that may help you make better food choices throughout the day and give you that extra kick you need. While breakfast may be a great way to begin the day, many popular breakfast go-to’s such as a bagel with cream cheese, eggs and bacon or sausage, breakfast sandwiches or burritos, smoothies, and even the basic cereal and milk can pack on a few more calories that you were expecting.
Let’s take the first example, a bagel with cream cheese. An average bakery bagel that you may find at your favorite local breakfast spot or drive through joint usually runs anywhere from 240-350 calories per bagel. Depending on the spread you choose, you can be adding an additional 50-190 calories per bagel. So if we do the math, we are now at anywhere from 310-540 calories for a bagel with some type of spread (I’m being kind in excluding many specialty bagels which can be up to 600 calories per bagel!). If we add a coffee with a little cream and sugar or an OJ, glass of milk, or even a specialty tea made with cream or milk, we can be tacking on 20, 50, or even 140 extra calories. I know breakfast is supposed to be important, but a 600-800 calorie breakfast is definitely putting a hefty calorie deficit in your calorie bank for the day, especially depending on the size, sex, build, or activity of the person eating.
Soooo, what can we take away from this? Breakfast is important, yes, but it is all in the choices we make (uhhh just like everything else!) that can make or break this early morning meal. Like I said, I am a breakfast believer and a breakfast lover. I actually look forward to my morning just because I love breakfast foods so much. I am leaving you today with my 7 Tips to Cutting Breakfast Calories. Breakfast can be a great time to experiment, enjoy something you love, and really fuel your body for the day ahead. Use these tips to make better breakfast choices and begin your day in a satisfying, yet figure-friendly way!
7 Tips to Cutting Breakfast Calories
1. Build a better bagel. For you bagel lovers out there, bagels can be a great way to get that carb boost in the morning, but they can also be hefty calorie carries as shown earlier. When your order your bagel, you can do a few things to cut back the calories. Once way is to ask for it “skinny”. If they don’t understand what you mean (not all places do), explain that it simple means cutting out a portion from the middle of the bagel (like taking out 1 disc from a stack for 3 CDs). You can also ask for a “scooped out” bagel, or you can do this yourself. This is simply scooping out some of the insides in each half of your bagel.
2. Choose better spreads. This tip coordinates with the last. Peanut butter is typically 190 calories per 2 Tbsp. Cream cheese varies depending on what type you choose (regular, whipped, reduced-fat, fat-free). If you have the choice, choose lower-calorie or reduced versions of cream cheese. If you think it has a funny taste, choose a flavored, reduced cream cheese. This usually masks the “off” flavor that some people taste. Also, if you are a peanut butter lover, you don’t necessarily have to find the reduced fat versions, especially if you are a true peanut butter nut. Simply compromise; only put peanut butter on 1/2 of your bagel, and choose a lighter, lower-calorie spread for the other side such as reduced-fat cream cheese, light margarine, apple butter, pumpkin butter, jam, or fruit preserves.
3. Don’t cry over spilled milk (or low-fat milk). People are stingy about their milk; trust me I get this, I hate using any other milk then what I am accustomed to (light vanilla soy milk to be exact). My fiancé is also a perfect example. It was like pulling teeth getting him to drink anything other than 2% milk (although I did just notice he bought 1%!). When there is skim in the refrigerator, he won’t even go near it. BUT, facts are facts and by switching to skim or a milk alternative (such as light almond or light soy) you can reduce both calories and fat per cup that you drink without sacrificing protein or calcium content.
4. Break the beverage habits. If you thoroughly enjoy breakfast like I do and get excited about your bagel with cream cheese and signature caramel coffee frap every morning, you may need to make some sacrifices…or rather choices. A special coffee drink is an indulgence, and indulgences are OK…but maybe not every day. There are ways to cut calories on these drinks by choosing low-fat milk options, sugar-free syrups, or cutting out whip cream and special toppings, but if that is the way you like your drink then you should be able to indulge every so often. Just keep this in mind; those special coffee drinks, whether steamed, blended, frozen, or iced can be anywhere from 150-450 calories per drink… and this is for the small or medium version. 450 + a 200-400 calorie breakfast…well, did I make my point a little?
5. Balance the eggs. The majority of fat, calories, and cholesterol comes from the egg yolk, so choose egg whites more often. You can also do a little of both. Cook an omelet with 2 egg whites and 1 whole egg. 2 whites equivocates to 1 egg. This way, if you enjoy the taste of a whole egg, you are still getting that, you are just cutting out some of the extra stuff that comes along with the yolk!
6. Slim down your smoothies. If you are making smoothies at home, fill them with all things colorful (as in plenty of fruit or veg), a low fat milk, or a high-protein, low sugar yogurt. If you want a chocolaty or peanut butter flavor, choose alternative options to blend in such as cocoa powder (about 10 calories per serving) or PB2 (powdered version of peanut butter). When you purchase a smoothie from a chain smoothie cafe or even a regular cafe that offers breakfast smoothie options, pay extra close attention to what you are ordering. Words can be deceiving. “Power-packed,” “energy-boosting,” protein-filled” may all sound wonderful, but some of these smoothies can reach 1,000 calories alone. Don’t believe me? Nutrition facts are widely available now; all you have to do is ask, read, or do a little research yourself!
7. Perfect pairing. This tip can actually be relevant for each meal or snack that you may have throughout the day, but I think it is especially important for breakfast. Carbs and protein make the perfect pair when it comes to satisfaction and giving you a boost to start the day. Carbs, such as your cereal, toast, fruit, oatmeal, and bagel provide the energy boost your body needs by breaking down into an immediate fuel source, while your nut butters, eggs, meats, yogurt, or even milk provide a protein source that keeps you full and feeling satisfied throughout the morning. Pair them together in combos such as eggs and toast, yogurt with fruit and granola, oatmeal with a little peanut butter and berries, half a bagel with a lean sausage patty, or any other combination that works for you in the morning!
However you choose to do breakfast, keep it simple, satisfying, and easy. Sometimes the simplest meals with the fewest ingredients actually provide the most satisfaction. Enjoy the first meal of your day, every day!