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The 7-Day Lean Challenge, Day 1: Have a Hearty Breakfast

Okay, I know you've heard it before, but it's true. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. When you feed yourself what your body needs when it needs it, that's love. So give your bod some TLC and sit down and enjoy a good, substantial breakfast.

To some this may sound counterintuitive. Doesn't skipping breakfast cut down on calories?

Short answer? No.

You actually need the calories first thing in the morning to jumpstart your metabolism. Skipping them will do you no good, as you will only be hungrier and eat more later. Hunger and self-control do not go hand in hand.

Here's why: When you skip food for a long period of time, your body goes into starvation mode. Your blood sugar drops, you get cranky, and you can't think straight. Your body doesn't know what's going on or when it will get food, so it slows down the metabolism -- by as much as 40 percent -- in order to hold on to what it does have. You don't want that! What you want is to rev up your metabolism so that you are burning fat and calories, not preserving fat and calories. Not eating breakfast leads to overeating later on in the day. In fact, research shows that a common characteristic of obese people is that they tend to skip breakfast.

Since the one dietary component most highly and consistently associated with long-term weight loss is fiber consumption, make sure you opt for something loaded with it! There is zero fiber in eggs and bacon, so choose a bowl of steel-cut oatmeal, whole grain toast with peanut or almond butter, brown rice, quinoa, or any kind of whole grain (cold cereals are not optimal, but if you choose one, make sure it has low to no sugar and is as close to nature as possible). You could also have scrambled tofu or nondairy yogurt with nuts if you prefer.

Personally, I enjoy a bowl of brown rice for breakfast most of the time. I make a big pot of it (I actually use a rice cooker, which is super easy and involves practically no cleanup) twice a week and keep it in the fridge. I scoop out about 2 cooked cups worth of rice, chop up some apples or dried apricots and walnuts, sprinkle some cinnamon, and pour on some heated unsweetened almond, soy, or rice milk with a tad of agave nectar to sweeten it a bit. It's delicious and it keeps me satisfied and energized for hours as the unrefined carbohydrates slowly break down in my system.

Visit my page of badges to share the step you're on!

Another favorite breakfast that I often enjoy is the following Breakfast Quinoa recipe.

Breakfast Quinoa

This recipe is one of the many delicious recipes created by Dayna McLeod specially for The Lean: A Revolutionary (and Simple!) 30-Day Plan for Healthy, Lasting Weight Loss.

This breakfast quinoa recipe is so delicious it can double as a dessert. Quinoa is naturally loaded with protein and fiber, so it provides long-lasting energy throughout your day. A perfect way to start your morning out right.

Serves 2
Active time: 10 minutes
Start to finish: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

½ cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
½ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
½ cup water
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon Earth Balance spread
1 medium apple, diced, with peel
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ cup toasted walnuts
1 tablespoon agave nectar

1. In a small saucepan, bring the quinoa, milk, water, and salt to a boil for 2 minutes.

2. Reduce, heat to low and cover for 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in a small skillet over medium heat, melt the Earth Balance spread. Add the apple, stir together until evenly coated, and saute for 1 minute. Cover and cook for 3 minutes, or until soft.

4. Add the cinnamon and walnuts and cook for 1 additional minute.

5. Stir in the apple mixture with the quinoa, and divide between two bowls.

6. Drizzle the agave nectar on top and enjoy!

*Helpful Hint* Quinoa is a South American grain that needs to be rinsed well before cooking. Quinoa has a natural coating that can make the cooked grains bitter and mushy if they are not washed first.

*Variations* For a simple change, cook the quinoa as directed above, but omit the apple and Earth Balance spread. Gently fold blackberries and cinnamon into the quinoa, and top with walnuts, agave nectar, and shredded coconut.

What to Do Today:

- Eat a Hearty Breakfast

What You'll Need for Tomorrow (optional recipe):

1 tablespoon olive oil
6 pieces tempeh bacon
4 slices sprouted-grain bread, toasted lightly
4 romaine lettuce leaves
4 slices tomatoes
6 slices ripe avocado
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons light vegan mayonnaise (such as Vegenaise)

"Thanks for taking The 7-Day Lean Challenge with me! The Lean is a 30-day Plan for Healthy, Lasting Weight Loss. It's designed to help you crowd out bad habits and replace them with new healthier ones. I'd love for you to join me for the whole 30-day plan. Please visit http://www.kathyfreston.com/the_lean_badges.html to preview more steps! The Lean is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Indie Bound."

For more by Kathy Freston, click here.

For more on weight loss, click here.



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