Friday, July 20, 2012

Get The Most From Your Breakfast

Blueberries work with the fiber in oatmeal to reduce cholesterol levels in your blood.
Photo Credit
If you want a high-performance, energy-producing, cholesterol-lowering breakfast, oatmeal is tough to beat.

What you consume at breakfast directly impacts how your brain functions, and unlike its counterparts in cartoon-covered boxes, oatmeal is a slow-digesting, high-fiber option that leads to better focus and mental performance throughout the day. While refined breakfast cereals with added sugar provide a short-term boost of energy, the payback is a crash that produces hunger pangs and leaves you feeling sluggish.

Oatmeal, whether steel cut or the old-fashioned Quaker version (though not the one-minute “instant” stuff), sets the metabolic stage for you to have a healthy and productive day. After breakfast, the body is metabolically primed so that when you consume your next meal that day, your blood sugar levels are better controlled. Maintaining control of blood sugar levels is key for those looking to lose weight.

The so-called “second meal effect” causes your body to take more of the carbohydrates you eat at lunch and store them as energy in the muscles and liver in the form of glycogen. Increasing glycogen stores is another big benefit for hard-training athletes looking to improve performance.

While plain old oatmeal is a great option for both serious athletes and regular Joes and Janes, it can be made even better with a couple of simple tweaks. Here’s how you can leverage oatmeal’s strengths into an even more ideal breakfast.

Add In Antioxidants

The last tweak to our oatmeal makeover is the addition of high-octane antioxidants –namely blueberries. The antioxidants in these delicious little blue gems complement the blood sugar-controlling effects of a protein-rich breakfast by improving your body’s ability to store and process carbohydrates.

Blueberries also form a powerful pair with oatmeal’s fiber, which reduces your blood cholesterol levels and in turn lowers your risk for cardiovascular disease. Research shows that daily consumption of the antioxidants found in blueberries can help lower blood pressure, another major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Even if your breakfast consisted of a cup of oatmeal on its lonesome, your day would be off to a great nutritional start. But by pairing that high-fiber carb and combining it with muscle-boosting protein and antioxidant-rich blueberries, you’ve given yourself perhaps the best start possible.

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