What is the best option for your health and wellness?
Pictured above are two seemingly healthy breakfast options. On the left Mom’s Best Cereals, a whole grain wheat cereal, boosts 6 grams of fiber and NO artificial flavors, NO High Fructose Corn Syrup, & NO Hydrogenated oils. And if you read the ingredients you can actually pronounce all the words, but you might not know what they are. This is marketing at its best.
On the right is a homemade breakfast of lean ground turkey, sweet potatoes, and egg whites. Although the fiber content is not as quite as high, it also has no artificial flavors, no high fructose corn syrup, & no hydrogenated oils and pronouncing the ingredients are not only possible, but you’ll know what each ingredient is.
Since, the cereal has a label that guides what a serving size should be, that is what is depicted in the picture. Take into account this photo shows 1 serving of cereal which is equivalent to 1 cup. An amount that very few people would consider to be filling. Additionally there is ¼ cup of almond milk.
The picture on the left is my typical breakfast. There is no “serving size” it is simply a breakdown of 3lbs of lean ground turkey, the equivalent of approximately 27 egg whites, and 1 x-large sweet potato equally split into 7 breakfasts to carry me throughout the week.
Below is a side-by-side comparison of these two breakfast options based on their macronutrients (fat, carbs, & Pro) (Note: I doubled the cereal “serving size” as that is not what is typically eaten at a meal.
||Cereal w/ Almond Milk
*2 servings (b/c no one eats just 1 cup of cereal)
|Egg Scramble (Turkey, Egg Whites, Sweet Potato)
| Sugar (grams)
There are a few things that jump right out; the alarming high number of carbohydrates (& sugar) and the very low amount of protein in the cereal. Just to give you a quick example, if I were to eat the cereal for breakfast it would be more than half the amount of carbohydrates I should consume throughout the entire day. On the flip side 10 grams of protein is hardly putting a dent into what I need in order to achieve my goals.
A bigger, more time sensitive (what is the immediate result) issue is that although the cereal breakfast will give us a sugar rush, will make us feel great….it will be very temporary. Once that sugar rush (peak is roughly around 20 minutes after eating) you’ll crash. The symptoms associated with that sugar crash are confusion, anxiety, fatigue, headaches, and my favorite hunger.
Your body’s immediate reaction to the egg scramble breakfast is quite different. You won’t get that quick “sugar high” that tricks your brain into thinking it’s worth it, but you also won’t get the “sugar crash” and there are a few reasons for this. The lower amount of overall carbohydrates and sugar contained in this meal are much less. Additionally, the high protein and moderate amount of fat will slow the rate at which the food leaves your stomach. This slow emptying of the stomach will keep blood sugar levels stable. Even better is that due to this slow emptying of the stomach you’ll feel fuller longer and won’t go running out to get your next sugary snack.
Here is the basic problem with consuming too many carbohydrates and too little protein. Most of us want to lose fat while building or at the very least maintaining our muscle mass. You never hear anyone saying “I have too much muscle, i’m just too dang strong”. But if you look at the recommendations for how much protein we are suppose to consume it is based on not losing muscle, in order to build muscle you need more than what is recommended.
For reference 0.8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight is the recommended amount or for 150lb person (68kilo) which ends up being 54g of protein daily.
But remember that is to avoid muscle wasting, its not for building muscle or even maintaining good healthy muscle, it’s the minimum you have to consume so your muscles don’t waste away. This also doesn’t take into account lifting weights and exercise, many athletes will aim to get 1g per pound of body-weight.
For a while now we have been making carbohydrates the bad guy. Everywhere you turn people are talking about eating “low carb” and avoiding carbs, but honestly our “low-carb” craze has been misled. First, carbs come in more forms than just bread and pasta. Fruits (fruit juice), vegetables, beer, soda, sugar…these are all carb sources. Second carbs are not the only enemy when it comes to insulin resistance and how your body reacts to the carbohydrates you consumed. You have to look at the whole picture; sleep deprivation, stress, diets high in both sugar and fat, and chronic inflammation.
Carbohydrates provide energy, but if you are not using that energy….well those carbohydrates will be stored as fat (hopefully for later use). If you never need that stored energy (i.e. you don’t do physical activities) it just stays there as fat. You see the problem?
What might be more important to discuss, rather than grouping all carbs together and labeling them bad. Would be to pull those out that cause the most disruption to your body such as; wheat, beer, and table sugar. For the most part your body considers these poisons, they cause inflammation throughout your body and this chronic inflamed state can be linked to many health issues.