"Breakfast is the most important meal of the day", so I've heard since I was a kid. And while I totally agree with that sentiment, it's not because of what you might think - not so much because I want to fill my body with nutrients so I can start my day off right...
No, I can start my day off just fine without eating first thing in the morning. I've even written about the benefits of delaying eating breakfast.
For me, breakfast can be the meal that makes or breaks my calorie numbers for the whole day. A moderate breakfast of 350 calories (or so) leaves me a lot of flexibility in my choices for lunch, snacks, and dinner. On the flip-side, I usually break my calorie budget on days when I put down a 600-calorie breakfast. So, eating a "good" breakfast goes a long way in determining whether or not I'm going to win that day.
Here are some calorie comparisons of common, quick breakfast options while you're out and about:
Einstein Bros Bagels - Sesame bagel (300) with a shmear of cream cheese (150-300). Eating a full bagel with a big shmear of cream cheese is going to cost you 600 calories! However, eating half of that meal while saving the other half for tomorrow gives you a very reasonable 300 calorie breakfast.
Eating half a bagel with a big pile of cream cheese is one of my favorite eating-out (or people bring food to work) breakfasts. It's a filling use of 300 calories - enough that I don't need to eat again until lunch, but without giving me that full-belly, need to take a nap feeling. Unfortunately it can be difficult to stop at half, especially when it tasted really good and there's another half just staring at me.
Will power goes a long way on this one. Eating half for 300 calories is a great breakfast; eating the 2nd half for 600 calories - not so much...
McDonald's - Sausage McMuffin w/ Egg. This little treat isn't too far off the chart at 450 calories. But be mindful of the 860 mg sodium content, and reaching for the side of hash brown will cost you an additional 150 calories.
This is one of the few items I can eat at McDonald's without feeling a heavy gut after eating, but I still don't have a craving-desire to eat one of these very often. Plus, it's hard to not order a hash brown with it, and once I do that I've just used up 600 of my daily calorie budget.
Krispy Kreme - Maybe you stop for a melts-in-your-mouth donut on the way to work, or maybe somebody brings a box of them into the office. Either way they're pretty hard to resist. An original glazed provides 200 calories' worth of goodness, while a chocolate iced glazed will set you back 250 calories.
Eating 2 Krispy Kreme originals for 400 calories isn't the worst thing in the world - especially as a once in awhile treat, but I find they aren't the most filling calories, and I'll be hungrier sooner than I would be when eating other breakfasts. Plus, it can be hard to stop at two, and that third one's a budget-buster!
The biggest takeaway here is that knowledge is power. Knowing how many calories are in your breakfast budget, and how many are in your breakfast, is a key ingredient for a successful day.
- Chris Butterworth
300 posts ago: running in the cold is hard
200 posts ago: portion sizes have become gigantic
100 posts ago: catching up to your goal - the tortoise or the hare?