The first to get up in the morning, brush your teeth and wash your face, and then go to make breakfast, this is my fixed habit of life. In fact, whenever I see the roadside breakfast stalls and small stores selling breakfast, it’s not that I haven’t thought about being lazy, sleeping more, buying ready-made to eat on the way to work …… but I still can’t do it. Who let me have an occupational disease.
I’m an energy management coach and I’m also certified as a fitness instructor and body fat manager. The first dimension of energy management is physical fitness management. The first task of physical management is to “eat well”. The first meal that people eat every day is breakfast. If you don’t eat well, you can’t have energy. And, breakfast on the street, I must admit, by my standards, it is difficult to eat well enough.
Breakfast on the street, and its problems
Let me give you an example of two friends’ breakfasts: A is 30 years old, weighs about 70 kg, and has a box of chocolate milk + a bag of bread from a convenience store for breakfast; B is 40 years old, weighs about 80 kg, and has one boiled corn + one tea egg + one cup of soy milk from a roadside stall for breakfast.
This is a very common but not good enough breakfast. The total daily metabolism – that is, the total daily energy expenditure – of an adult male aged 30 and weighing about 70 kg, who has a sedentary office job and is not physically active, is about 1,800-2,000 kilocalories (Kcal, below). 2000 kilocalories (Kcal, all units used below).
Without the need for fat loss or weight gain, a person’s total daily metabolism should be essentially equal to his or her caloric intake. In other words, A above should normally eat about 2000 kcal per day in order to maintain normal physiological function and daily activities.
Assuming you don’t eat late at night and have a roughly normal schedule, you will wake up in the morning after about 10-12 hours since you last ate, and about 3-4 hours between breakfast and lunch. To make up for the nighttime sleep gap and to meet the demands of morning activities, breakfast should account for 25-30% of your total daily intake, which for A is 500-600 kcal.
A carton of chocolate milk counts as 250 ml. A slightly larger bag of bread can have 100g, which adds up to about 450 kcal, which is slightly insufficient. What about boiled corn, tea eggs and soy milk? It’s only about 300 kilocalories. This is even less for B, who has higher metabolic demands. This is the first problem with “street breakfast”: you think you’re eating a lot, but you’re not even getting enough.
Calories are only one side of the coin, and we often say that “1 kcal is not the same as 1 kcal”. The same amount of calories that come from added sugar in chocolate milk, or from finely cooked starches – whether it’s corn cooked to softness or bread pounded to perfection – are digested and absorbed so quickly that they don’t sustain enough “satiety.” What’s more, the nutrients in these foods come primarily from sugar. The large amount of sugar that enters the bloodstream at a rapid rate can cause significant fluctuations in insulin, leading to what is known as “mealtime sleepiness” and the subsequent sharp drop in blood sugar levels. This can affect mood, as well as interfere with concentration and reduce productivity.
Fast food digestion, high blood sugar fluctuations, unsettled mood, and not enough total calories means that after eating such a breakfast at eight or nine o’clock, you may feel hungry and depressed by ten or eleven o’clock. At this point you may be extra hungry for a “tasty” snack – maybe there is one at your workstation! Then you grabbed something and stuffed it into your mouth. This “non-stop” way of eating is very easy to make people fat.
Back to A and B’s “street breakfast” above. The third problem with such a breakfast is that it is not a balanced supply of nutrients. The human body needs six major nutrients: carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, fiber, and minerals. According to the ingredient list, “chocolate milk” is actually a watered-down, sugar-sweetened dairy drink. Convenience store bagged bread is refined starch mixed with sugar and oil. Both contain very little protein and negligible vitamins, minerals and fiber.
Corn basically provides no protein. An egg contains about 6-7 grams of protein. A medium cup of soy milk, about 220 ml, also contains about 6 grams of protein. The latter two add up to about 12-13 g. B weighs 80 kg and should consume at least 80 g of protein per day. His breakfast should provide more than 25% of his daily calories. However, as we have seen, his breakfast is inadequate in calories and provides only 15% of his daily protein requirement. The amount of vitamins, minerals and fiber in this meal must also be very inadequate due to the absence of vegetables and other side dishes.
Not eating enough protein can lead to decreased immunity, muscle flaccidity, and endocrine disorders. Not eating enough fiber can lead to poor bowel movements and imbalanced intestinal flora. Not to mention vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Let’s revisit the truth: You are what you eat.
In short, the “street breakfast” like A and B is not up to the task. If you always eat this kind of breakfast, you will hardly have enough energy, at least not in the morning. In order to improve energy levels, we should seriously consider optimizing our breakfast choices.
Principles of breakfast organization
What should a proper breakfast look like? According to the general “plate chart”, our breakfast should consist of 2 servings of vegetables, 1 serving of protein and 1 serving of carbohydrates, roughly 50:25:25. The relationship is 50:25:25. In addition to this plate, we can also include a fruit or dairy product.
Take the example of A (2000 kcal daily requirement) from above. He has roughly 25 kcal per serving of vegetables, 100 kcal per serving of protein, and 200 kcal per serving of carbohydrates. You can adjust the calories of each “serving” here according to your total daily metabolism.
Some of you may say that a standard plate of A here only provides 350 kcal, which is less than “25% of 2000 kcal”. The food is cooked with oil, and probably with various sauces. These ingredients are high in calories. Add in an optional fruit or dairy product off the plate and you’ll have more than enough. The following is an example of a breakfast with seasonings and cooking instructions.
Vegetables: 90 g spinach (25 kcal) + 80 g carrots (25 kcal), blanched, 5 g vinaigrette dressing (22 kcal)
Protein: 85 g chicken breast (100 kcal), 10 g butterflied (90 kcal)
Carbohydrate: 40 g whole wheat bread and 30 g oatmeal (200 kcal), with a small dish of unsweetened jam (20 g, 21 kcal)
Other: a small dish of strawberries (8 pieces, about 200 g, 62 kcal)
This meal totals 550 kcal, providing 34 g of protein and 8 g of fiber (33% of the recommended daily intake), of which 25% is provided by fat, which is already the upper limit of the “fat energy ratio” recommended by the current dietary guidelines. This is already the upper limit of “fat to energy ratio” recommended by the current dietary guidelines. Note that we are barely doing this by not frying with oil, eating low-fat white meat, and being relatively stingy with cooking oil. As a corollary, if you have strict low-fat dietary needs, you should be prepared to not eat stir-fry and season with sauces. This is beside the point and will not be discussed here.
Chinese take-out food is routinely characterized by three more and one less – more oil, more sugar (including added sugar and refined starches), more salt and fewer vegetables. At a street breakfast, you are hardly likely to get so many vegetables and protein that the main calorie intake must come from refined starches, added sugars and fats. It is not uncommon to find vegetable- and protein-rich, oil-restricted takeaways (such as the various “light meals”), but they are usually very expensive and will not be discussed in this article. Therefore, the best way to have such a breakfast is to prepare your own ingredients and cook it at home.
As an average working person, breakfast is actually the meal we are most likely to eat at home, and it is also the meal with the most manageable content and nutrition. If lunch and dinner are destined to be eaten out, destined to be baptized by takeaways and meals, then we should at least eat a good breakfast, with a healthy breakfast for the rest of the day. Breakfast at home also has a side benefit of “forcing” yourself to get up early, as well as, go to bed early. In short, if you want to adjust your diet and manage your energy, we might as well start with breakfast and treat it as a life practice.
The choice of vegetable foods
Each person should have a daily vegetable intake of 300-500 grams, at least half of which should be dark leafy vegetables. Vegetables get their color from natural pigments such as chlorophyll, carotenoids and anthocyanins, all of which are so-called “antioxidants. The higher the pigment content, the darker the color. More “leaves” means higher fiber content, and vegetables happen to be a great source of fiber. So there are just two principles for choosing vegetables: leafy first, darker first. For example, the same “green” vegetables, cabbage and cauliflower is not as good as the darker color of spinach and broccoli. Spinach and oleander, which have the “leaves” as the edible part, are better than winter squash. Other “colorful” vegetables can also be compared to the same principle of selection.
What is the concept of 500 grams of vegetables? Take lettuce as an example. An ordinary “small bowl” of rice, filled with lettuce blanched in water, without any seasoning, is about 100 grams. For online delivery, each packet of lettuce is about 250 grams, and after washing and cutting, the remaining part that can be eaten is more than 200 grams. That means you should eat 4 bowls or portions of vegetables equivalent to these 2 packets every day.
To make it easier to cook vegetables on weekday mornings, we can prepare semi-finished products in advance with the help of a refrigerator + a crisper/closet bag. As soon as we buy the vegetables, we should sort and wash them, and cut them as needed. Leafy vegetables and vegetables with high water content (e.g. winter squash, tomatoes) should be sorted into crisper boxes and consumed within 2-3 days. Denser textured vegetables such as carrots, broccoli and bamboo shoots can be drained, placed in plastic bags and placed in the freezer. These frozen vegetables do not need to be thawed for cooking and can be placed directly in the pan.
This preparation is not complicated. You just need to have a working refrigerator and make sure it is basically clean and sanitary.
The cooking is equally simple. The traditional Chinese “stir-fry”, especially the “wide oil Stir-fry” can greatly increase fat intake and should be avoided whenever possible. Spinach can be blanched in water and served with a low oil, low salt sauce. Eggplant can be steamed and seasoned with vinegar and garlic paste. Bamboo shoots and string beans can be simmered with very little oil. White radish and winter squash can be boiled or stewed. Cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, celery and purple kale …… can all be eaten raw. If you really hesitate, we have the ultimate trick called broth hotpot: boil a pot of boiling water, cook all kinds of vegetables and mushrooms (they can also be classified as vegetable foods) into it, with a bowl of seasoning, and solve all your troubles.
Some people think vegetables are very expensive and feel they can’t afford to eat them. But in fact, eating vegetables in this way, eating a week, is only the cost of ordering one or two meals “light take-out”.
The choice of protein-based foods
You should consume at least 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. For a body weight of 70 kg A, you should consume 70 grams. If you exercise, your protein intake can be increased moderately. Common “protein foods” are mainly animal foods, such as livestock, poultry, fish and eggs.
Protein is the “building block” of the human body. Protein in food needs to be broken down into amino acids by the digestive system, absorbed into the bloodstream, and then synthesized into protein for the body again as needed. If the food is deficient in some amino acids (especially essential amino acids) and there are too many others, the excess amino acids cannot be used by the body. The body cannot store amino acids, so it has to transport them to the liver and break them down for energy – the equivalent of using wood materials that can build a house as firewood. This constitutes waste.
Animal proteins are generally closer in composition to the human body than plant proteins and have a lower waste rate. The utilization rate of eggs and “white meat” (such as fish and poultry) is again higher than that of “red meat” (including pork, beef and lamb). Therefore we usually do not recommend a vegan diet and recommend a higher intake of eggs and white meat instead of red meat.
In addition to the issue of protein utilization, another important consideration is the higher amount of fat contained in red meat. Lean pork contains 6.2 grams of fat per 100 grams. In the case of beef brisket, the fat content explodes to 29.3 grams per 100 grams.
There is no place for fat in the standard “plate chart”. Only a maximum of 25% of your daily energy intake should be provided by fat, with 9 kcal per gram of fat. Specifically, A should not consume more than 2000*0.25/9 ≈ 56 grams of fat per day – which includes “frying oil” and “sauce”. This includes the fat in the “stir fry oil” and “sauce”. In other words, if he eats a 200 gram brisket stew (trust me, it doesn’t look like much), he’s not eligible to eat “stir fry” for the rest of the day.
Another advantage of using white meat and eggs instead of red meat is that it is cheaper. Both chicken breasts and lean beef are low in fat (about 2 grams per 100 grams), and the former is higher in protein at a fraction of the price. The price of eggs is even lower. Of course, both red and white meats should be consumed in limited amounts. An average of 1 serving per meal and a maximum of 1 serving of red meat per day is about right. If you replace meat with eggs, each medium-sized egg (about 55 grams) contains about 7 grams of protein and 4.5 grams of fat. This means that 2-3 eggs are approximately equal to one serving of meat; if you need to limit your fat intake, consider removing some of the egg yolk.
Eggs are a good ingredient to “prepare”. Just keep a small egg cooker on hand. Meat can be sorted and cut into smaller portions for each meal as soon as possible after purchase (for example, one serving of meat for A is about 70-90 grams), compared to vegetables, and frozen in a small plastic bag or refrigerated in a small crisper. Alternatively, we can buy pre-packaged chicken breasts, beef, or canned fish (such as tuna) online for about 60-120 grams per serving, and have a bag for breakfast, which is just right.
Cheese is commonly known as the “poor man’s meat”, but it is not popular in China (and expensive). If you’re in the habit of eating cheese, you can substitute it for some of the higher-fat meats, such as pork. Or, if you tend to be a vegetarian, you can replace meat with a variety of soy products, preferably with a variety of legumes and products to increase the utilization of protein.
Choice of carbohydrate foods
Vegetables” that contain more starch, such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, taro, and yams, should be classified as carbohydrates or “staple foods”. Carbohydrates provide about 50% of our daily energy intake. This probably explains all the “carb cutting” and “no carb carb-free” “weight loss diets” can produce effect.
Eat half as much each day, starve yourself, and you’ll lose weight!
Of course, this process is extremely harmful to health, and we definitely do not recommend it.
The choice of carbohydrates just follows a principle, called “coarse and fine”. Many people understand the coarse and fine combination here simply as “reasonable variety” “include the right amount of coarse food”, but ignore the other half of its meaning, that is, “the cooking method should be appropriate coarse, avoid too fine The other half of the equation is “cooked in a coarse manner, avoiding too fine processing”.
An example. Pumpkin and millet are considered by many people to be “coarse grains”, so pumpkin with millet should also be “healthy”. However, if you put them together, add some water and simmer them slowly over low heat to make a millet and pumpkin porridge, the glycemic index may even be higher than that of ordinary rice, which is very unsuitable for people with type 2 diabetes. Of course, ordinary people should also eat less.
This is the effect of “overly fine” cooking means on food. Use rice or purple rice to make porridge, cook old corn in a pot for a few hours, make mashed potatoes, cook noodles until they are soft, and turn oiled dough into large buns or bread ……. The reasoning is similar. How much “grains and cereals” are not essential. We choose carbohydrates, we must consider both the type of ratio, but also pay attention to the cooking method. Do not all kinds of “fine grains”, but also do not all the cooking are fine.
The finer the cooking, the more work it happens to be. In the spirit of efficient and healthy, we should also make ourselves less effort, right?
Specifically for breakfast, you can prepare semi-finished products in advance and cook them in an easy way. For example, you can pre-cut sweet potatoes, taro, freeze some small buns in the fridge, get up early the next day and prepare a steamer, fire up and steam for ten minutes. You can pre-soak some chickpeas, red beans, black beans, etc., with a small amount of rice and other refined grains, cook a pot of porridge that requires a few chews with the teeth. Or, you can simply buy semi-finished products, such as cereals that only require boiling water or small packages of mixed grain bread that can be opened and eaten, thus simply avoiding cooking.
An “optional” addition to your plate is a serving of fruit or a dairy product. Fruit can be chosen according to your taste, but it is not recommended to eat too much. 200-300 grams per day should be enough. This is equivalent to about one apple, or ten strawberries. Preferred dairy products are whole milk. If you are lactose intolerant, you can switch to zero-lactose milk or yogurt. — but yogurt is best with 0 sugar (note that it is best with no sugar at all!)
With a plate chart and the above knowledge of food choices, I’m sure you’ll soon be able to start from scratch and prepare a decent breakfast for yourself. The last thing you need to pay attention to is fat and seasoning. As mentioned earlier, there is no place for fat in the “plate chart”, and the ratio of fat to energy should not exceed 25%. Part of this fat is food intake and part is cooking oil. The Chinese Dietary Guidelines recommend that each person use no more than 25-30 grams of oil per day for cooking, while a spoonful from an ordinary soup spoon is about 10 grams. In other words, try not to fry and cook with as little oil as possible.
Another habit is to control sodium intake. The biggest sodium consumer in the kitchen spice cabinet is soy sauce, in addition to salt. One spoonful (10 ml) of regular soy sauce contains about 600 mg of sodium, or 40% of the recommended daily sodium intake (1500 mg). Other common Chinese condiments (such as oyster sauce, salsa, and Sriracha) also contain significant amounts of sodium. If you can, consider choosing lower-salt alternative seasonings and lighter flavors overall.
High oil and salt are contributing factors to many diseases including diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. China already has 140 million diabetics, 350 million hypertensives and 700 million fat people. I hope you don’t join these expanding (and even enlistable at the same time) hordes. It is absolutely necessary and worthwhile to spend some time to change your taste in food.
Finally, there is a small doubt, from some extra lazy or extra busy friends, that is, “can eat meal replacement”. My answer is no. Whether powder, liquid or solid (such as protein bars), meal replacements are too small and too elaborate to provide the same amount of nutrition and calories, so there must be a lack of satiety and a short time to maintain it. Our 6-meter long small intestine is not designed to eat powders or drink nutritional solutions. In order to keep it functioning properly, it is better to give it more work at this stage. Therefore, it is better to eat real food for breakfast rather than “food like food”.
I wish you an energetic morning because you eat a good breakfast.