March Mondays Monthly Challenge
Cutting Processed Foods
Week Three’s Mini Challenge
Your mini-challenge for week 3 is to concentrate on a healthy, nutrition-packed breakfast every day.
I’m not talking Pop-Tarts here, or even some kind of a processed, prepackaged diet shake. I want you to focus on having as much nutrient-dense food first thing in the morning as possible. This will require some advance planning, at least until you form those habits and always have the right ingredients on hand.
The best combo is to have a healthy protein, healthy fat, fiber, and greens at every meal. This combination is magic for balancing your blood sugar, revving your metabolism, and turning off hunger hormones. Cravings go away, and you feel full until lunch. When you feed your body the right nutrients, it can work the way it is supposed to in rebuilding your cells and bringing you to a healthy weight.
Here are some yummy breakfast ideas:
- Any of the smoothies from my Free Green Smoothie Challenge (you can download those right here). I am personally obsessed with smoothies and have one almost every day. They are so easy, and you can spend a few minutes on a weekend to put together smoothie packs in your freezer, making breakfast really a dump and go event.
- Eggs, avocado, and greens. Cook your eggs any way you like, saute in some spinach, kale, or other vegetables, and top with avocado. This is a perfect power breakfast that will definitely hold you until lunch! Frittatas are also great and can be easily frozen and reheated later for a fast and hearty breakfast.
- A chia pudding, like this one, can be the perfect grab and go breakfast. Make a few to store in the fridge and top with berries for more of a nutritional punch.
But what’s this I hear about intermittent fasting? Do I really need breakfast?
Ok, here’s the quick run-down on intermittent fasting. For those who haven’t yet heard about this new trend, intermittent fasting is when you eat within a smaller daily timeframe with the intent to increase your body’s ability to burn fat. For example, you stop eating at 6:00 p.m. and don’t start again until 10:00 a.m. the next day, giving you a 16 hour period of fasting overnight.
(Oh, my goodness, how do I make this quick?)
Fasting overnight is an important part of allowing your body time to heal, perform cell repair, and complete the digestion process. Our bodies do need time to rest between meals, and especially overnight. There are some people who feel really great when they do intermittent fasting, and you really need to listen hard to your body to see if that is you.
One of the big benefits people talk about with intermittent fasting is that it allows your body to access its glycogen stores, your fat-burning systems. That sounds pretty great, right? Most of us definitely want to burn more fat. However, the same process is activated when you do a workout first thing in the morning in a fasted state. So if I wake up and do a workout at 6:00 a.m. on an empty stomach followed by a green smoothie, I get the same benefits as someone who stops eating at 6:00 p.m. and doesn’t eat again until 10:00 a.m. So why would I starve myself until 10:00 a.m.?
For both me and the vast majority of my clients, it’s difficult to maintain. After your fasted morning workout, you are starving and wanting food. The more you wait for that breakfast, the more you think about it, and then your regular-size smoothie turns into an extra-large smoothie, with a huge handful of nuts on the side, and then maybe a piece of toast or two. The monkey-brain starts talking, telling you that it’s ok to eat a larger meal, you’ve been fasting after all! And then all progress gets ruined by overindulgence.
Intermittent fasting also makes changes in your hormones, which can disrupt your cycle, and actually make it harder to burn fat. When hormones are out of alignment, fat storage can be turned on, the opposite of what we want!
All these reasons (and more) are why I instead recommend a fasted workout first thing in the morning, followed by a nutrient-dense, blood sugar balancing breakfast.
So now you tell me, what will you be having for breakfast for the next week?
I recommend planning out a breakfast menu and shopping list to ensure you have everything you need easily accessible in your fridge. Let me know what your plan is in the comments below, in the forum, in the Facebook group, or at Emily@healthbyemily.com. I can’t wait to hear what’s on your plate!