Breakfast: Picking Apart the “Most Important Meal of the Day”

Breakfast has long held superiority status and taken precedence amongst all other daily meals. But aside from being the first meal, what merit does breakfast hold in acquiring the title of “most important meal”? It’s important to take a look at some of the evidence that supports such claims, including the benefits of, and, the drawbacks of not “breaking the fast”.

One of the immediate benefits from consuming a morning meal is, like any other meal, that it provides energy. However, unlike other meals later in the day, breakfast replenishes some of our energy stores we relied on overnight while asleep and fasting. In other words:

breakfast can sooner kick our metabolism out of the slowed, fasting rate from sleep, and into increased, awake mode.

Beyond providing energy, breakfast sets us up for success in various other ways:

Eating breakfast encourages healthier diet patterns due to the added opportunity for intake of important vitamins and minerals (especially through fortified, fiber-rich cereals) and reduced likelihood of eating later into the evening, at a time when eating becomes less ideal. Alongside our metabolism, cognition may also be kickstarted after breakfast, as studies support the influence of breakfast on increased alertness, mood, and attention.

This finding is consistent with our brain’s reliance on carbohydrates as its primary source of energy, given the tendency for this meal to be carbohydrate-rich.

Breakfast, however, is not necessarily the end-all be-all. A large portion of supporting evidence for breakfast benefits is derived from observational studies rather than the gold-standard randomized controlled trial studies. Many individuals find they naturally aren’t hungry in the morning, or find the thought of eating early to be nauseating. Rather than forcing food down when it isn’t welcome, listening to hunger cues from your body is key. The bottom line is that while breakfast presents a number of benefits, we should not put so much focus onto one meal so as to lose sight of the importance of consistently balanced meals throughout the rest of the day.

Please share below: what is your favorite breakfast?

Written by Lamar Dietetic Intern: Pietra Haracz

Are you still struggling to lose weight?  It could be your genes…

Are you ready for a weight loss plan that is sustainable and works with your body not against it?

If you’re tired of trying diet after diet, but can’t seem to find the one that sticks, the solution might be in your genes!

There is more and more exciting research about genes and their connection to nutrition.  For example, protein is an important part of a healthy diet, but for some people protein can also be the key to losing more body fat on their weight loss journey.

The FTO gene can determine if a higher protein diet is the best choice for people wanting to lose weight. In research trials, those with the AA variant of this gene lost significantly more body fat after 2 years while following a higher protein diet, compared to people with the TT or TA variants.

So, for people with the ‘responder’ genotype, consuming a higher percentage of energy from protein actually accelerated their fat loss potential, while for the non-responders, more protein in their diet did not make a difference.

Do you want to learn how you can eat to optimize your body composition and reach your weight loss goals? I can help by offering you a genetic test, called Nutrigenomix. Watch this video to learn more.

Nutrigenomix is celebrating Nutrition Month by offering a free Personalized Nutrition for Skin Health report (PDF) with the purchase of any 70-gene test ($79 value).  “Through nutrition care and prevention, the Skin Health test helps determine how genes can influence the skin’s ability to combat signs of aging, how the body metabolizes nutrients that support skin health, and how genetic markers that affect eating habits can play a role in the health of your skin.”

To learn more about the test, click here.

Contact me to schedule your test today.  The free skin care test is only offered until March 31, 2022.

Mindfulness and Hunger

A client told me the other day, “I’m never hungry.  My stomach never growls.”  When someone tells me that she is never hungry, I bring up my favorite subject: mindfulness.

You were born knowing when you were hungry and when you had enough to eat.  Unfortunately, for some of us, our hunger and fullness signals got mixed up.  Whether it was a well-meaning adult that made you “clean your plate”, learning that eating chocolate helped you feel better when you were sad, or ignoring hunger pangs to lose weight—you started to ignore your hunger/fullness cues and now you might not know what your body is telling you anymore.

If you are like my client and confused about what your body is or is not telling then, then mindful eating will help you.  According to The Center for Mindful Eating, mindful eating is:

“Mindfulness is the capacity to bring full attention and awareness to one’s experience, in the moment, without judgment. Mindful Eating brings mindfulness to food choice and the experience of eating.

Mindful eating helps us become aware of our thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations related to eating, reconnecting us with our innate inner wisdom about hunger and satiety.”

Doesn’t that sound really beneficial?  Wouldn’t you like more of that awareness with your body?  I think we all would.

There are many benefits of mindful eating that I could discuss with you, but I just want to focus on one right now: learning how to tell when your body is hungry. Here are steps take periodically throughout the day:

Step 1: Pause and stop what you are doing.

Step 2: Minimize distractions (phone, TV, conversations, driving, etc.).

Step 3: Take three big, deep breaths.

Step 4: Scan your body from head to toe, noticing if anything feels “off.”

Step 5: Pay attention to the part of your body that doesn’t feel right.  Let’s say you notice you have a headache, for example.  Could it be that it needs nourishment?

Step 6: Ask yourself some questions to figure out if it is related to hunger:

When was the last time I ate?

*What did I eat today?

*What time is it?

*Am I feeling stressed?

*How much have I had to drink today?

If you determine that your headache could be due to low blood sugar, then go ahead and eat something nourishing.

Ways your body might tell you that you are hungry

And that is using mindful eating in a nutshell to learn more about your hunger.  I realize it’s not always as easy as that.  It takes a lot of patience and practice.  The benefits are worth it!  That same client I mentioned who said he never felt hungry started using mindfulness and determined that when he was cranky in the morning it was due to skipping breakfast.  He started eating a small breakfast (yogurt and fruit) and is not irritable in the morning anymore!

How does your body tell you it’s hungry?  Comment below.  And to learn more about mindful eating, check out my most popular class Chocolate and Mindfulness: Why We Need Both.

What is the difference between a meal replacement drink and protein shake?

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a meal replacement drink and a protein drink? I get this question all the time.  It’s really important to know the difference so you can make the best choice based on your health goals.

A meal replacement drink contains significant amounts of the three macronutrients: carbohydrate, protein, and fat.  As the name implies, it is meant to relace a meal.  The balance between carbs, protein, and fat are meant to mimic a small meal (or large meal—depending on which drink you choose).  For a typical meal replacement drink, the carbs can range anywhere from 15-45 g of carbs (the equivalent of 1-3 carb servings).  Protein can range anywhere from 7-40 g (the equivalent of 1-5 protein servings).  The fat content can range from 5-15 g (the equivalent of 1-3 fat servings).  Typically they are fortified with vitamins and minerals too, so it’s like taking a daily multivitamin. 

Which drink you choose is up to your health goals.  The one drawback to meal replacement drinks, is the amount of added sugars, which can range anywhere from 4-24 g (the equivalent of 1-6 teaspoons)!  Here are some ideas:

Boost
Boost Original
  • Boost Original, Ensure Original, or Carnation Instant Breakfast only have about 1.5 servings of protein, a little over 2 servings of carbs, and 3 teaspoons of added sugars.  Because of the added sugars and low protein, I rarely recommend these drinks.  They could be used as a snack replacement if you are trying to gain weight.
  • Boost High Protein, Ensure High Protein, Carnation Instant Breakfast High Protein, Slim-Fast, Special K, etc.  These types of drinks have a higher protein content and provide about 2 protein servings.  The carb amount is around 30g on average.  These drinks are great for meal replacements because of the balance between protein and carbs.

A protein drink is high protein and low carb/sugar.  They contain at least 20 g of protein and at most 40 g (3-5 protein servings).  They have little or no added sugars or fat.  They are meant to add more protein to your diet and don’t provide energy (carbs).  Protein drinks are a perfect supplement for you if you struggle to get adequate protein at every meal.  In fact, I prefer to call them “protein supplement drinks” to remind my clients that they supplement the meal, not replace the meal.  If you rely on protein drinks only at your meal, you might be tired, hungry, and sluggish because you are not eating any complex carbohydrates. 

Some examples of protein supplement drinks that I recommend and my clients love:

  • Premier Protein
  • Boost Max
  • Ensure Max
  • Fairlife Nutrition Plan 30g Protein
  • Fairlife Core Power
My favorite protein supplement drinks

How might you use a protein supplement? 

  • After a hard workout at the gym, drink a protein drink and eat a piece of fruit within 1 hour of finishing your workout.  Your muscles will soak up the protein to start re-building and the carbs will fuel the muscle building process. 
  • Drink a protein drink for lunch when you don’t have time to leave the office.  Eat a banana, box or raisins, whole grain crackers, or an apple for carbs (brain power) and fiber (fullness) with it.
  • Drink one for breakfast to round out your favorite high-carb breakfast (oatmeal, whole grain toast with avocado, whole wheat tortilla with peanut butter, etc.)

If I had to choose my personal favorite, it is the Fairlife.  I love to drink one for lunch and eat a banana on my busiest work days.  The combination of carbs, fiber, and protein keep me satisfied and fueled for a few hours until I can eat a balanced snack.

Do you need help with your diet? Check out my Intentional Eating 101 Program.

Now that you know the difference between protein drinks and meal replacement drinks, which one are you going to choose?  Comment below to share your ideas.

Are you addicted to food?

Have you ever felt like you are addicted to food?  I can’t tell you how many of my clients have expressed this belief about themselves.  Is food addiction even a thing?  The research on food addiction is very limited, but I can share with you some of the latest research and what we do know.

First, it’s very important to clarify that food addiction is a process addiction.  That means it is the act of eating and the feelings you have about eating certain foods that is addictive, not the food itself.  As you engage in overeating and eating foods you consider bad or trigger foods, your brain releases dopamine which makes you feel good.  After chronically overeating, the dopamine receptors are down regulated and then you need to eat more and more to get the same dopamine response.  This is the same process that occurs in other addictions like gambling, shoplifting, gaming, and phone use. 

Many people falsely believe that food addiction is a chemical addiction like drugs or alcohol.  That’s not so.  Drugs and alcohol contain chemicals that are physically addictive.  But foods commonly considered addictive (flour, sugar, salt, and chocolate) are not actually chemically addictive.  Sure, they do make you feel good, but you are not dependent on them.  For example, if you find chocolate to be a trigger food for you then when you eat chocolate you feel a hit of dopamine. You have a piece of chocolate and then want more and more.  However, let’s say you don’t find orange juice to be a trigger food and so when you drink orange juice, there is no dopamine hit.  So, it’s not the sugar from the chocolate or the juice, it’s the act of eating something that you feel is forbidden or you have strong feelings about. 

The act of overeating causes a similar pathway in the dopamine response.  The more you overeat, the less your body releases dopamine and then you need to eat more and more to get the same response.  Just like gambling and gaming, for example.

So, what does all this mean? It’s good news actually.  It means you don’t have to avoid your favorite foods forever because you think you are “addicted” to them and you have to abstain like you would from alcohol.  It means that you can eat your favorite foods in moderation after learning how to manage cravings, compulsive eating desires, and your feelings surrounding certain foods.   

How do you do that?

1. Keep a food journal where you write down the food you eat, your level of hunger/fullness, and the feelings you have surrounding that meal/snack. 

2. Identify the emotions that lead up to overeating/compulsive eating. 

3. Try to catch yourself when you are feeling those emotions and deal with them in a more constructive way.

This list is very simplified. I know it’s not as easy as that.  It takes a lot of introspection, outside support, and patience with yourself.  And that’s what I am here to help with.  I want you to feel in control of food instead of food controlling you.  Sign up for my Intentional Eating 101 program and you can start your journey to feeling better and getting healthier!

What will you commit to this year?

I confess, I have been dragging my feet on writing a new blog article. So much has happened over the last year in the world and in my own life, that some things just seem too trivial. I couldn’t get the motivation to write about new foods, recipes, or the latest nutrition fads. None of that seems important when so many of us have burdens of loss of loved ones and friends, lost jobs, financial problems, or health problems.

I have suffered a loss greater than I ever thought I would. My sweet husband, Lee, died of cancer on August 16, 2020, just 10 months after his diagnosis. Like many of you, my world has been turned upside down and it’s a struggle to feel right-side-up again.

You may read his obituary here.

So what nutrition topic can I write about that will even seem important right now? Well, let me first list what IS important: my support system, my faith, my career, and my health. There are so many things out of my control right now, but I can control how I take care of myself. You can control how you take care of yourself. (However, the outcomes aren’t always under your control–like incurable stage 4 cancer.)

What I want to talk about in this newsletter, is how you can control how you take care of yourself. You can choose to keep your yearly check-ups with your doctor (virtual or in-person), whether to take your meds or not, whether to exercise or not, what foods to eat, and how to spend your free time. Trust me, I know that when under stressful circumstances it is hard to do all of those things. You only have so much willpower and a lot of it used just getting through the day. But that doesn’t mean it’s an excuse to not try. You can choose to do one thing (or more) everyday to take care of yourself.

As for me, I commit to take care of myself as best as I can, so I can be there for you, for my kids, my colleagues, my friends, and my family.

What do you commit to do?


How can I help?

Here are some ways I can help you reach your health goals:

  • Monthly Masters Group: Tuesday, January 12, 2021 @ noon (virtual or in-person): Brenda Hoehn, guest speaker, with Procare: “Physical Regeneration and Strength Upgrade”. Send an email to kelli.worley@intentionaleating.net to RSVP.
  • Want to work with me to find the best diet plan for you, but don’t have time to come to appointments? Sign up for Virtual Intentional Eating 101 here.
  • Having bariatric surgery this year? Learn Everything you Need to Know Before Bariatric Surgery here.
  • This year I will finally re-vamp my Support Group. If you want to be added to the list for the beta launch, reply to this email and let me know.
  • Sign up to become a new one-on-one client here.
  • Last, I want to give you what you need. If you have any ideas or need something specific, send me an email.
The Best App for Calorie Counting

The Best App for Calorie Counting

With hundreds of calorie counting apps to choose from, it easy to get overwhelmed or waste your time on ones that aren’t very useful.  I know you’ve been there.  Either it’s confusing to use, the data is wrong, or you are distracted by ads.  I have used so many different calorie counting apps over the years with my clients and have never been 100% satisfied.  That is until I discovered Nutritionix Track.  I have started using this app with my clients and so far they and I love it.  

Here is what we love about it:

  • Easy and attractive dashboard and diary
  • Multiple ways to add your daily food: upload a picture, search in the database, add your own foods, scan the package barcode, or use the “freeform box.” 
  • It offers a unique feature that I have not seen anywhere else.  The “freeform” option allows you to say your diary and using advanced technology it accurately determines what you ate.  Just takes a minute to log all your food!  (Watch the video below to see how it works.)
  • If you are trying to NOT think about calories, the picture option is a great way to log your food without worrying about the nutrition.
  • You can add your own recipes.
  • It tracks your weight, fluid intake, and exercise.
  • You can link it with popular fitness trackers, like Fitbit and HealthKit.
  • Shows macro and micronutrients.
  • No ads.
  • You can connect your diary with your dietitian (me!) and I can view your foods from my computer. 

One of my clients said, “My favorite feature is the Freeform box.  It’s so much easier to log my food rather than type it out.”

Have you ever had a financial goal, like pay off your car or save for your vacation?  I bet the first thing you did was figure out how much money you needed to save and then made a plan to save that money.  Part of that plan probably included making a budget.  What does that have to do with nutrition?  Everything!  If you have a health goal, you have to know how to get there.  And what you put in your mouth will move you towards or away from that goal.  That is why I recommend calorie counting, especially with the Nutritionix app. 

Watch the video to see it in action.

For more apps that I recommend, check out my FREE Guide: 25 Best Apps for Optimal Health

Click here to download

Sleep your Way to Weight Loss

Did you know that lack of sleep may be the missing key to your weight loss results?  Let me explain why the right amount of sleep is essential for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.

Why is sleep important?

It refreshes us physically, emotionally, and mentally.  It gives our bodies time to repair and grow and our minds time to relax and renew. 

What happens when we don’t get enough sleep?

When we are sleep deprived on a short-time basis, it negatively affects our mood, concentration, performance, and metabolism.  On a long-term basis, it can contribute to obesity, insulin resistance, heart disease, comprimised immunity, and decreased quality of life. 

What does a good night’s rest look like?

Our bodies cycle through different types of sleep, called REM and non-REM sleep.  About 25% of our sleeping hours are spent in REM sleep, which is an active sleep.  Our eyes dart back and forth and we dream.  The remaining 75% of the time we are in non-REM sleep, which is restorative, relaxing, and restful.  In addition, our body naturally follows a rhythm of energy and sleepiness throughout the day.  From around midnight to 7 AM and 1-4 PM our body becomes sleepy.  (This can vary person to person depending on your schedule and genes.)  But in general, we follow a rhythm throughout the day.  Knowing yours can help with maximizing your energy levels throughout the day.

How does sleep affect my weight?

  • Sleep deprivation may cause the obesity gene to “turn on.”
  • Being overweight may lead to sleep problems which then promotes additional obesity.
  • Not getting enough sleep may increase appetite and cravings, especially for carbohydrates.
  • Some studies show people ate up to 500 extra calories a day when they didn’t get enough sleep.
  • Sleep deprivation can impair glucose tolerance and increase secretions of cortisol, thus increasing our risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

What may interfere with my sleep?

  • Caffeine
  • Nicotine
  • Alcohol
  • Depression
  • Nighttime exercise
  • Large meals
  • Chronic pain
  • Certain medications
  • Poor sleep environment

What can I do to get enough sleep?

The first thing is to rearrange your schedule so you allow for 7-9 hours of sleep.  Next, turn off the tv and computer 1 hour before bed.  Ensure your room is dark and at a comfortable temperature.  Try to go to bed at the same time each night to develop a good routine that is predictable for your body.  Do something relaxing before bed, such as stretching, yoga, meditation, or deep breathing.  Last, see your doctor if things interfere with your sleep such as insomnia, medications, shift-work, or snoring.

So tell me, what do you do to ensure a good night’s rest?  Do you get enough sleep?  Why or why not?

For help improving your health, click here to become a new client.

Note: I used the following article in preparing this blog post: “The Link Between Sleep and Weight Gain — Research Shows Poor Sleep Quality Raises Obesity and Chronic Disease Risk,” By Nancy L. Kondracki, MS, RD, LDN, Today’s Dietitian, Vol. 14 No. 6 P. 48.  It can be accessed here: http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/060112p48.shtml

How does exercise affect your motivation to eat well?

How does exercise affect your motivation to eat well?

Some days you want to eat well and some days you don’t. Have you ever noticed if your exercise affects how you eat? A research article published in the May 2019 edition of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition Dietetics looks at this very question.

After surveying 1600 women between the ages of 40-50, the following obeservations were made:

  • Those who exercised with the main motivation to lose weight, were less likely to eat intuitively, less likely to listen to their body’s feelings of hunger and satiety, more likely to restrict their food choices based on a specific diet, and more likely to eat for emotional reasons instead of physical reasons.
  • Those who exercised because of intrinsic motivation (health, enjoyment, improvement of mood, and pleasure) were more likely to eat intuitively, listen to their body’s signals of hunger and fullness, not restrict their eating to a certain diet, and eat for physical reasons instead of emotional ones.
Exercise for fun, not for weight loss!

This study illustrates that if you can focus on exercise for the positive benefits it brings to your life, instead of weight control or improving your appearance, you may be more likely to eat intuitively. And why is that important? Because intuitive eating has been linked to the following benefits according to other research:

  • Improved well-being and mood
  • Greater body acceptance and appreciation
  • Higher self esteem
  • Greater satisfaction with life
  • Lower body mass index

Aren’t those amazing benefits? I think so too. If you need help learning how to eat intuitively, trust your body, and exercise for the right reasons, click here to fill out a request to become a client.

How to Boost your Immunity (the REAL Way)

Of course, everyone is anxious about getting sick right now, thanks to the coronavirus.  My clients have started asking me what they can do to keep their immune system in top shape.   Your immune system is an amazing and complex microorganism-fighting machine.  It defends your body from harmful virus and bacteria that enter your body through mouth or nose.  Because it is so complex and involves other systems in your body, there is no guaranteed way to ensure that some microorganisms won’t get past your defenses and cause a cold, virus, or infection.  However, you certainly can do some basic things every day to give it the best shot possible.  There is no magic bullet on this list (sorry).  There is no strange concoction of herbs and fruits mixed together in a drink (thank goodness).  Or no pill you can take (save your money for more exciting things). It’s the basic (sometimes boring) things that will give us the best chances:

  • Get enough sleep.  Your body cannot fight off sickness if it is tired and weak.  Make sleep a top priority.  The recommendation is 7-9 hours of sleep per night.  (To learn more about sleep, attend my Masters Group class on May 12th or May 14th: The Healing Power of Sleep).
  • Take a multivitamin as “insurance” if you eat very few fruits and vegetables.  Don’t waste your money on super- or mega-vitamins.  The extra vitamins and minerals don’t provide extra benefits.  A simple, multi-vitamin and mineral supplement is all you need.  Make sure it is certified by an independent lab or you might be wasting your money.  (If you need a good one, I offer Opurity vitamins in my office.)
  • Wash your hands often, especially before eating and preparing food.
  • Eat yogurt with live and active cultures daily.  The probiotics in yogurt feed your immune system.
  • Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.  Make sure to get a variety of colors to ensure you are eating a wide range of immune-boosting nutrients.
  • Reduce stress by taking on less projects and tasks, deep breathing, yoga, tai chi, meditation, or prayer.  (I’ll be teaching about this at Masters Group on July 12th and July 14th: Implementing Mindfulness into your Busy Life.)
  • Eat protein with each meal to meet your minimum recommendation of 0.35 grams x your body weight.  Protein is found in dairy foods, meat, seafood, nuts, beans, and tofu.
  • Don’t age.  (I had to throw this one in there.)  The older you get, the weaker your immune system becomes.  There is nothing we can do about that, though.

By following these steps as best as you can, you’ll be well on your way to keeping your immune system performing at its best. 

If you’ve got nutrition concerns or questions, apply to become a client with one of our highly knowledgeable dietitians here.