In the time you spend each morning calibrating your hair gel, you could be doing something more important, with a much better payoff: eating breakfast. Mom was right (and it's okay to admit it): Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
It keeps you slim: Breakfast eaters are less likely to be overweight than breakfast skippers, and successful dieters are also more likely to be breakfast eaters.
It keeps you healthy: Eating breakfast may reduce your risk of serious illnesses like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer, and it strengthens your immune system so you're more resistant to common ailments like colds and the flu.
It keeps you sharp: Memory and concentration get a boost from breakfast. A study on children found that kids who eat breakfast score higher on tests and are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, and hyperactivity. It should help you at the office, too.
The Perfect Meal
You say you eat breakfast? Good boy. Even so, it's likely you're doing it wrong. "Most men make the mistake of eating too little in the morning, and then get so hungry they go overboard and eat a giant meal later in the day," says Evelyn Tribole, M.S., R.D., a nutritionist in Irvine, California, and author of Stealth Health.
A typical breakfast is just a couple of hundred calories, mostly in the form of simple carbohydrates that spike blood-sugar levels and leave the body starving for energy a couple of hours later.
Even a classic fiber-rich breakfast say a cup of raisin bran with blueberries and skim milk provides less than 300 calories and only about 10 grams of protein. An ideal breakfast needs to be much larger between 500 and 600 calories. And it needs to be packed with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, including at least 20 grams of protein and at least 5 grams of fiber. That will give your body a high-quality, long-lasting, steady supply of energy to help you through the morning.
Here's how to hit those numbers. Each of the following meals tastes great and can be made in minutes.
Blueberry Smoothie With Toasted-Cheese Sandwich
Prep time: 4 minutes 2 slices whole-wheat bread 1/2 c Kashi Go Lean Crunch! cereal 1 c fat-free milk 1 c frozen blueberries 1 1-oz slice Cheddar cheese Pop the bread into the toaster. Dump the cereal, milk, and berries into a blender and liquefy. Stick a slice of Cheddar between the warm slices of toast and nuke the sandwich in a microwave for 15 seconds. It tastes grilledbut isn't.
Benefits: "The cheese and milk in this meal are essential for building and maintaining new muscle," says Christine Rosenbloom, Ph.D., R.D., a professor of nutrition at Georgia State University. "The whole grains in the bread and cereal will help lower cholesterol, and the minerals in the milk and cheese will help keep blood-pressure levels down."
Per meal: 509 calories, 26 grams (g) protein, 75 g carbohydrates, 14 g total fat, 12 g fiber
Prep time: 1 minute 1 medium apple 1/2 pint fat-free milk 1 bran Vita muffin 1 pack Skippy Squeeze Stix peanut butter Slice the apple, grab the milk, muffin, and peanut butter, and go. Squeeze the peanut butter out of its pack onto your apple slices as you eat.
Benefits: Vita muffins (vitalicious. com) contain 100 percent of your recommended intake of several important nutrients, including vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, and E. Foods high in monounsaturated fats like peanut butter may boost testosterone levels. This meal should help you burn energy more efficiently and lift more weight at the gym.
Per meal: 506 calories, 20 g protein, 87 g carbohydrates, 12 g total fat, 15 g fiber
Minute Omelette with Toast
Prep time: 2 minutes 1 egg 3/4 c frozen spinach, thawed 1 slice Canadian bacon, diced 2 slices whole-wheat bread 1 Tbsp almond butter 1 c Welch's grape juice Stir together the egg, spinach, and Canadian bacon and pour onto a plate coated with nonstick spray. Microwave for 1 minute or until the egg is fully cooked. Toast the bread and eat it with the almond butter. Chase everything with grape juice.
Benefits: Monounsaturated fat in the almond spread will help prevent spikes and drops in blood sugar, which can leave you feeling tired or crabby. Grape juice gives you an antioxidant, called resveratrol, that not only helps lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels but also helps improve bloodflow to the heart.
Per meal: 540 calories, 25 g protein, 73 g carbohydrates, 19 g total fat, 8 g fiber
Two PB-and-Banana Wraps With Milk
Prep time: 2 minutes 2 Tbsp peanut butter 2 Eggo Special K waffles 1 medium banana 1/2 pint fat-free chocolate milk Spread a tablespoon of peanut butter over each (briefly microwaved) waffle. Divide the banana between them and roll each to make wraps. Wash down with chocolate milk.
Benefits: Eggo's Special K waffles supply complex carbohydrates, which break down slowly in the body and stimulate the production of serotonin, a calming brain chemical. The banana is packed with potassium a heart protector.
Per meal: 570 calories, 23 g protein, 90 g carbohydrates, 16 g total fat, 7 g fiber
The Santa Fe Burrito
Prep time: 4 minutes 2 eggs 1 c Santa Fe frozen mixed vegetables (black beans, peppers, and corn) 1 flour tortilla 1/2 c low-fat shredded Cheddar cheese 1/4 c salsa Mix the eggs and vegetables and spread the mixture on a plate coated with nonstick spray. Cook in the microwave for 1 minute, stir with a fork, and microwave again until the eggs are cooked and the vegetables warm. Pile onto a flour tortilla, top with shredded Cheddar cheese and salsa, fold, and eat.
Benefits: "Without protein, guys can lose muscle mass quickly," says William J. Evans, Ph.D., a professor of geriatrics, physiology, and nutrition at the University of Arkansas. This meal is packed with it.
Per meal: 530 calories, 36 g protein, 53 g carbohydrates, 18 g total fat, 6 g fiber
Black-Cherry Smoothie and Peanut-Butter Oatmeal
Prep time: 4 minutes 1 c R.W. Knudsen black-cherry juice 1 c frozen strawberries 1 c frozen unsweetened cherries 2 Tbsp protein powder 2/3 c oatmeal 1 Tbsp peanut butter 1/2 c fat-free milk Blend the cherry juice, frozen fruit, and protein powder until smooth. Microwave the oatmeal according to the directions on the package. Stir in the peanut butter and milk.
Benefits: Men who ate at least one serving of whole-grain cereal (like oatmeal) a day had the lowest risk of dying of any cause, including heart disease, according to a 5-year study of 86,000 doctors. Cherries and strawberries are natural sources of salicylates the active ingredient in aspirin making them ideal for relieving stress-induced morning headaches.
Per meal: 600 calories, 27 g protein, 100 g carbohydrates, 11 g total fat, 10 g fiber
Almond-Butter-and-Raisin Sandwich With Smoothie
Prep time: 1 minute 2 Tbsp almond butter 2 Eggo Special K waffles 1 Tbsp raisins 1 Stonyfield Farm smoothie Spread the almond butter on the waffles. Sprinkle the raisins over one waffle and top with the other. Wash down with the smoothie.
Benefits: Whole-grain waffles help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and improve your body's processing of insulin and glucose, a benefit that can reduce your risk of becoming diabetic.
Per meal: 600 calories, 21 g protein, 86 g carbohydrates, 22 g total fat, 7 g fiber