The Ideal Oatmeal

Breakfast is really important to me… but it is frequently the meal I have the least amount of time to prepare. Yet it’s supposed to power me through my day and help me avoid temptation later in the day. In the end… it usually but not always ends up being some variation of oatmeal. I don’t think I can fight it anymore… oatmeal is the breakfast du jour.

Meals give us energy. Our brain uses 20% of the body’s total energy. So: meals help our cognitive functions if we provide the body with the right nutrition. And for many people, what do you need from the get-go early in the morning? Dat brain power for work-related mumbo jumbo number crunching interpretation bullsht. Gosh, I have a remarkable talent for getting distracted with anecdotal information. I’m going to stop writing in full sentences. Bear with me. I get carried away when it comes to nutrition.

OATMEAL. 1/4th cup dry. Complex carb. 4g fiber. Is low-glycemic. A food is low-glycemic if it scores 50 or lower (effect food has on blood sugar levels). More fiber = feel “satisfied”/more full. Also has 5g of protein. Slow-digesting protein helps you feel full… LONGER. Fiber+protein = keep you from feeling like you’re hungry right after eating and after, too. But Carbs = energy to keep you going.

HOWEVER! if anyone says plain jane Oatmeal can satisfy them they’re lying or delirious. Also there wouldn’t be enough nutritional value to just pure oatmeal slow-boiled in water to mushy perfection.

Oatmeal checks out as a carb – 27g in 1/4th cup dry steel cut oats.

From the last post… I have learned that the ideal breakfast will have a combination of both complex carbs and protein… and it’s easy to see why. So wherefore art thou proteins?

First: When does the body rebuild and repair? During sleep. And from the last post, what repairs and rebuilds the cells? Protein! So upon rousing from that picture perfect pretty slumber… the body is in need of some protein. But alas, oatmeal – the world-proclaimed breakfast of champions – is a bit lacking in that department.

The easy solution: greek yogurt (17g protein, minimal carbs) or protein powder of some sort (varies depending on the source of the derived protein)!

From LiveStrong:

1. Kick Start Protein Synthesis – Your body uses protein to rebuild itself as you sleep, so come morning you’re in need of a protein boost. Just 20 to 30 grams of protein is enough to “flip on” your body’s muscle-building switch and maximize your ability to stack amino acids into protein and muscle. The morning is an especially good time to do this since your body’s levels of the stress hormone cortisol are elevated (cortisol runs on a circadian rhythm and is higher in the morning). Adding protein to your breakfast will stimulate protein synthesis, counteracting cortisol’s muscle degradation mechanism.

2. Make Better Choices – Researchers at the University of Kansas Medical Center discovered that an interesting rewiring of our brains occurs with higher protein breakfasts. In a small pilot study, they found that people who ate a high protein breakfast (versus those who ate low-protein morning meals or skipped breakfast entirely) experienced decreased activity in the part of the brain associated with reward-driven eating behaviors. These changes persisted for several hours after breakfast – indicating that a higher-protein breakfast helps you better control food cravings later in the day.

3. Feel More Satisfied – Protein has a satiating effect by controlling blood sugar and stimulating the hormone CCK (Cholecystokinin), which acts on the brain to increase feelings of fullness. This is especially beneficial for those looking to lose weight. Researchers at Purdue University found that dieters who increased protein at breakfast enjoyed sustained feelings of fullness after breakfast, though not at other meals.

Then there’s the small case of needing some servings of fruits and veggies every day…

So why not a nice handful of berries?

↑ high in antioxidants (anthocyanins)
↑ increases antioxidant capacity in plasma w/ intake of 3 cups of blueberries per day vs. 1-2 cups per day
↑ increases HDL cholesterol (the good kind)
↑ improves memory/cognitive function
↓ lowers triglycerides
↓ only 85 calories per cup
↓ low glycemic index (score of 50 or less)
↔ helps maintain blood pressure
↔ protects LDL cholesterol from oxygen damage, which in turns leads this bad cholesterol to clog the walls of blood vessels
↔ phytonutrient antioxidants help against oxidative stress to eyesight/helps protect against sun damage to retina

As if all that weren’t great enough, blueberries are fibrous. Oatmeal is great and all… but even a complex carb alone cannot do the body justice. Tossing in protein (very important at breakfast, I think!!) and some fruit (still a sugary carb, but with benefits that outweigh that small fact…) and flavors your oatmeal without need for nutritionless sugar.

Image Credits: Spoon University

The Breakfast Hacks

I just finished eating my breakfast… after/during which I proceeded to look up nutritional information regarding optimal breakfast choices.

My google query?
“should you eat protein or carbs for breakfast?”

(I was trying to justify eating what I ate.)

Literally 10+ tabs, 20 minutes, and a lined notepaper full of notes later… I have arrived at the self-same conclusion: I’m stuck with oatmeal for breakfast for the rest of my living days. I think I’m secretly trying to find a way to avoid eating oatmeal. Alas… not today.

But fck it, because my breakfast was salmon (protein + omega-3 and 6 healthy ‘fat’) cooked in olive oil (good/healthy fat), and a hard-boiled egg sans the yolk (protein sans the fat) (only 43% of the protein of an egg comes from the yolk… so I see it as dispensable. Most of the calories of an egg come from the yolk as well… VERY dispensable. And 99% of the fat of an egg comes from the yolk… dispensable if and only if I am consuming an alternative and healthier fat. HOWEVER, most of the vitamins/nutrients are in the YOLK but! I presume to consume those throughout the day in other foods… so still dispensable) and a baby-sized granny smith apple (carb: low-glycemic index fruit/sugar intake).

[There are three types of carbs: starch, sugar, fiber; from there each of these three types can be complex or simple to signify the rate at which the body converts these to energy/how quickly they are digested. From there complex and simple carbs can be refined or unrefined.]

I frequently prefer lunch-esque meals for breakfast mostly because by the time I’m breaking my fast a great deal many hours have passed (about 12-13 potentially, but not always)… so I am ravenous! PLUS: I worked out crazy hard yesterday morning and I am feeling sore today and I need all the muscle repair/building I can get. So aha! Protein-focused breakfast.

I’ll spare myself the regurgitation but this LiveStrong article sums up what I already knew: a combination of complex carbohydrates mixed with protein is the ideal breakfast.

Carbs provide your body with energy rather easily and quickly, while protein helps build and repair cells (I see them as my personal muscle “repair shop” including replacing my broken down cells with new stronger muscle cells *here’s where I flex my non-existent muscles*). And healthy fats aid in the absorption of vitamins, maintaining a steady stream of energy via slowing down the digestion rate of all carbs, even the simple kind, so that you don’t experience a “sugar crash.”

All THAT above was just my preface… holy shit. I haven’t even gotten to the topic I started this whole entry for… breakfast hacks! Nutrition is my … what’s been occupying my thoughtz these days. It’s perhaps the most scientifically approachable basic human need.

Anyway… I think I’ll move my actual breakfast breakdown to the next post… this one seems quite dense and long already.

Image Credits: A Taste of Koko

The Birds and The Bee Pollen

There are so many wonderful things I want to talk about because I’ve been busy living these past few days. Not in that sad “just barely living” sort of way but in that “thriving” and doing things sort of way. A stark contrast to the despair from earlier in the week.

Culling the unnecessaries from my life feels immensely rewarding even if at first it seems to hurt. I nearly used the verb ‘cutting’ since that paints a better picture as to why it hurts. So I’ll try that approach instead. My ‘cutting’ of the unnecessaries is like painfully removing some part of me, some internal piece of my being but with the realization that that piece is cancerous. However painful the cut, however deep the slice – these things must be removed for they will cause more pain in the long-run than the temporary pain of cutting. The mind, body, soul can heal from these. Unnecessaries, be gone.

Fair warning: the rest of this post is about food. Snooooozeville to all but me.

In the spirit of *culling* though… I’ve committed to an indeterminate period of pescetarianism. I have to admit, this is just barely affecting my life because I don’t think I considered myself a big meat eater in the first place. I used to make fun of my mom and would “insult” her by jokingly saying she was a ‘carni’ (implying a carnivore to which she took great offense, lulz. I was an awful child). And I’ve always been a fatty carb lover. I’ve always proclaimed if I could survive on just bread and water, I would do it. Mmm, bread. But I digress!

So yes. I’m no longer eating chicken, beef, pork, etc. But boy am I gonna miss da birdies tho. Chicken is too good. But real life actual chickens freak me the fuck out. Their wings are gross looking and they move weird and *shudders* True story: I don’t really like animals. They freak me out. But whatever. I’m a selfish lady and I’m not eating them for my own health. *shrugs* Positive repercussions a bonus. And as for seafood… gosh, I don’t really like seafood that much but in my mind fish has so many good and healthy Omega fatty acids, it keeps my eating out options easier, and lastly I’m a Pisces so yes da fck I will EATMYOWNKIND. Lmao. #cannibalfo’sho #addictedtohashtags

This has led to much excitement over new culinary experiences (the pescetarianism, not cannibalism, to clarify)! I love cooking. I love trying new recipes, I love just going into the kitchen and not ever coming back out. (Metaphorically speaking since open floor plans are all the rage these days.) #iwishicouldstoptalkinginparenthesis #hashtagstoo

I love vegetables and fruit. And nutrition most of all. I was for a week quite focused on perfecting my smoothie recipes for maximum flavor and maximum nutritional balance. I successfully made my first delicious non-green green smoothie (it turned a vibrant crimson and it was deeeeeeeeeeeelicious)!

I recently started taking bee pollen capsules for protein, vitamins, and minerals. I figured that would be much easier than sprinkling bee pollen all over my food… considering I already have to sprinkle rice protein powder and maca powder and superfood powder into my smoothies… I figured – let’s do something I can commit to without it requiring da werq of a smoothie. It’s been interesting experiencing the side effects of the pillz. They’ve seriously reduced my nagging cravings and stifled my appetite a bit. They’ve given me more energy, too… though I still need to nap a few times. That will likely not ever change because naps rock my world.

For the most part for a few weeks I’ve done tea over coffee. But since yesterday I’ve been feeling that iced coffee so today is day 2 back to the coffee caffeination.

I haven’t exercised at alllll this week, though. But I mean… I don’t know. I’m not being hard on myself. I’ve accomplished a great deal of other things in my time this week so I think it’s alright. Balance.

I think I’ll maybe crank out another post later in the day – non-food related. We shall see just how typative I feel today.

Image Credits: Tourists 360

Cut, Squeeze, Pour.

Lemon Detox Diet.

I don’t want to commit to a strict length of time for this detox, but I’m thinking somewhere between 5 and 7 days. I don’t think 10 days ventures into healthy territory for me. I’m only 21… don’t think I need that much of a cleanse… (:

Day 1 (Monday) – Really hard. I was craving everything under the sun. Healthy Breakfast + 4 cups.

Day 2 – Still pretty hard. No longer craving as many things, but some mild stomach discomfort set in. 8 cups.

Day 3 – Woke up with a lot of energy and earlier than usual. One of the reasons for getting on this detox is because I was still feeling tired after sleeping 10 hours, and just sluggish all day. The day went pretty well. Accompanied friends to go get pho (…! and I resisted), though there was some mild boredom and it felt easier to just go out and eat. Late at night I was starting to feel hunger pangs so I drank a few more sips of lemonade and went to bed at around midnight. 6 cups.

Day 4 – Woke up reluctantly to write an essay, but again full of energy. Not so many cravings anymore but any food seems sufficient to fulfill the hunger void. Though I shouldn’t be hungry… I should keep making more lemonade, but I have only a short break between classes today so it has to wait.