Breakfast is probably the hardest meal of the day to stick to low carb options. In our traditional Western diet, carbs and breakfast seem to be inseparable. Biscuits and gravy, cereal, oatmeal, even toast; they all have too many carbs for typical low carb parameters.
How Many Carbs for a Low Carb Breakfast?
If you’re diabetic, your doctor will have made a specific carb plan for you. When I had gestational diabetes, my doctor’s goal was for me to stay under 20 carbs for breakfast. This can be a challenging number to hit, but our bodies process sugars differently earlier in the day and in terms of all day blood sugar control, breakfast is definitely the most important meal.
First, Shift Your Thinking
One of the easiest ways to free up your breakfast options is to stop categorizing foods by meal type. Leftover dinner, if low carb, can make an easy breakfast without a lot of hassle. My favorite leftovers include things like meatloaf, stew or another dinner with a high percentage of meat and vegetables. If you do meal planning, you can even factor in enough in your dinners to make leftovers for a quick breakfast. Cooking once, eating twice? The best way to go!
Lower Portion Sizes of High Carb Foods
Lately, I’ve been on an oatmeal kick, but it doesn’t take much at all to fly past carb limits. To compromise, I eat a larger portion of something low carb and use the oatmeal as a side dish. For the past couple of days, it’s been two boiled eggs dipped in Stubb’s barbecue sauce and a half cup of quick oats sweetened with maple syrup and thickened with 1/2 teaspoon of flaxseed oil, which imparts a deliciously nutty flavor with a creamy texture. This comes out to just about 20 grams of carbs and leaves me fully satisfied until lunch. This strategy works for every meal. Going low carb doesn’t mean not enjoying high carb foods, it just means getting creative about how and when you eat them.
Love Brunch Again
In most diabetic and low carb meal plans, there is an option for a snack between breakfast and lunch. If this works for you and your own targets/goals, take advantage of the upcoming snack and start your day with a smaller serving size. I typically find I need to eat more often earlier in the day, especially if I’m having blood sugar issues.
An ideal meal schedule for me is something like this:
8p: bedtime snack
When I’m cheating more often and not managing my blood sugar well, I find I need to eat sooner than 11 for lunch, so I split breakfast and lunch into 3 smaller portions for breakfast, brunch and lunch. This can be really helpful for keeping blood sugar at an even keel all morning and help keep you energized as you go about the day. A typical snack can be around 20-25 grams of carbs, or the equivalent of a low carb breakfast.
Ditch Processed Foods
Breakfast, for me at least, seems to be the time when my digestion and blood sugar are most sensitive to processed foods. The same low carb bar I ate yesterday afternoon can leave me shaking and with crashing blood sugar if I try to eat it in the morning. Aim for whole foods with little or no processed foods for your morning meal to allow your body to more easily digest. Great whole foods for breakfast include small amounts of a grain, such as oats or barley, small amounts of fruit, and your choice of meats, cheese or eggs combined with vegetables for a nutrient packed meal that sticks around.
Opt for Meats and Vegetables
It’s hard to go wrong with meat and vegetables. In addition to all-important proteins and fat provided by meat, vegetables give fiber and nutrients essential for health. Best of all, they’re typically low carb, which allows you to eat more, get filled up and stay satisfied until your next meal.
Think of a stir fry, but without a starch. How about last night’s roast beef run through a food processor with real mayonnaise and spices, spread on low carb crackers? Personally, I love a warm bowl of soup or stew first thing in the morning and the broth is an excellent way to rehydrate after a night of sleep.
Thinking outside the box is the best way to avoid food fatigue and give you plenty of choices for low carb breakfasts. This meal is too important to cheat on, so having more options means greater chances of low carb diet success.