Ask The Expert

A Best Bet
Photo by Jeff Padrick

Q. Can you suggest some quick breakfast ideas to sustain energy and avoid a midmorning slump?

A. When pressed for time in the morning, it’s tempting to grab a quick bagel, muffin, or piece of toast. However, with this type of carbohydrate-laden breakfast, particularly if the choices are refined carbohydrates, a midmorning slump is all but inevitable.

Here’s why: Although carbohydrates provide needed “brain fuel” in the form of glucose, a carb-heavy meal may cause your body to secrete high amounts of insulin, producing an initial energy high as the insulin spikes, followed by a drastic drop in blood sugar levels approximately 40 minutes afterward. This often results in midmorning fatigue. Refined carbohydrates, such as breads, muffins, and bagels made with refined white flour instead of whole grains, accelerate this process.

The ideal breakfast contains small amounts of fat, lean protein, and complex carbohydrates to stabilize blood sugar levels and provide sustained energy. For example, choose a whole-grain bagel or English muffin and top it with light cream cheese, your favorite nut butter, low-fat turkey sausage, or a melted slice of low-fat cheese.

Or whip up a breakfast burrito using a whole-grain tortilla; scrambled eggs, tofu, or beans; sautéed veggies; and a sprinkle of low-fat cheese.

Many whole-grain cereals are also available, hot or cold. Check sugar, fiber, and protein content, and choose those with at least 5 grams of protein and fiber per serving and 10 grams or less of sugar. By sprinkling a small handful of chopped nuts and fresh or frozen berries on a bowl of whole-grain cereal, you will add heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, as well as fiber, minerals, phytochemicals, and vitamins. Serve with low-fat milk or a milk alternative.

This month’s Ask the Expert is written by Vonalda Utterback, a certified nutritionist, researcher, and writer specializing in holistic health and natural and organic products.