nutrition

I love breakfast. It used to be that I subscribed to the “healthy breakfast” rules: egg whites or “Egg Beaters,” lean breakfast meat or no meat at all, whole wheat whatever. After all, saturated fats are “artery-clogging,” and whole wheat = fiber, right?

Then I made a change, and I now frequently enjoy a breakfast featuring three whole eggs and two or three strips of bacon. My God, what I was missing.

But why would I do that to myself? Don’t I believe in eating healthy and lean?

Let’s just say I challenged a few assumptions and got educated.

“Unhealthy” Fats

The first hurdle is the one you see in the media every day—the one in that first paragraph. “Artery-clogging saturated fats.” No one seems to even need to change the wording, as if those four words are the required AP style for any mention of saturated fats.

What if I told you that no matter how healthy you eat, you have “artery-clogging” saturated fats coursing through your body right now?

Saturated fats are animal fats. They’re the fats in beef, pork, poultry, fish…and humans. Your “spare tire” contains saturated fats. Most of your cells, in fact, contain saturated fats. Your body can’t survive without saturated fats.

Here’s the secret the “artery-clogging” writers don’t tell you: most saturated fats you consume remain ready to be burned if necessary, but your body stores excess carbohydrates as saturated fat. You eat a donut then sit at your desk, the sugar and starch turns to fat, and when you get up and actually do something, that fat gets into your bloodstream. But we don’t call them “artery-clogging carbs,” do we?

And as far as cholesterol, I had mine tested when I was “eating lean,” and again after I began eating bacon and eggs regularly, and the numbers were virtually identical. (Your mileage may vary based on your overall diet and genetics. Get your cholesterol checked as a part of your regular physical.)

You don’t want to be eating bacon all day long, but perhaps saturated fats are something you can be sensible and balanced with.

Morning Protein

Whether you’re trying to lose weight or gain lean muscle, a critical part of your daily diet is to eat at least a quarter of your day’s calories and around 30 grams of protein at your first meal.

This serves two purposes. First, those protein calories keep you satiated in a way that a stack of pancakes or a bagel never will. That keeps you away from the receptionist’s candy jar. Second, the protein helps your body to resume building and maintaining muscle tissue.

Three eggs provide about 18 grams of protein. Add three small strips of bacon (or two large) and there’s 27. Yes, there are other meats you can add to get to the target, and if you prefer them, go for it. I’m also a ham fan. But bacon helps you with your goal instead of working against it like those slices of “wheat” toast slathered in jelly.

Easy, Fun and Tasty

Last, there’s the enjoyment factor: the smell as it sizzles in the skillet, the meaty texture (or crunch, if you like it crispy like I do), and that decadent flavor. It’s the perfect complement to eggs.

Not to mention that bacon is easy to cook: put it in a pan, wait until it’s shrunk down and turn it over. About 5 minutes from fridge to plate. Or put it in the oven at about 400 for 15 minutes. Drain it or pat it with paper towels if you like to remove excess grease. (Oh, and never throw bacon fat down the drain. Do what Mom did and keep a covered soup can handy, then throw it in the trash when it’s full.)

Balance That Breakfast

At this point I should mention that I don’t eat just bacon and eggs—that’s not a balanced breakfast, and all of your meals should be rounded in nutritional content. A little microwaved frozen chopped spinach and black beans, mixed with a little cayenne or hot sauce, adds carbs and fiber to kickstart my brain and ensure, um, regularity despite all that animal product.

I also balance that breakfast with exercise. As I mentioned above, these fats are immediately available for conversion into energy, so it’s a great idea to keep the metabolism moving and the fats burning.

The world-traveling gourmand Anthony Bourdain was recently on tour, and a mother had a question about her young son. He had decided to become a vegetarian, and Mom was finding it incredibly difficult to meet his dietary needs while she also cooked for the omnivorous remainder of her family. She wanted to know if it was possible to win her son back over to the “dark side.”

Bourdain replied with one word:

“Bacon.”

1 comment

The man, 56 years and 10 inches ago.

Happy first weekend of fall! (Aussies, happy first weekend of spring!) Right now as I look out my window, Mother Nature can’t decide whether to lighten up or bring the pain. I’m guessing soon it’ll be the pain.

Now that you college students have your computers hooked up (who am I kidding, you brought your laptop from home and it took you five seconds to jack into the dorm’s wi-fi) here’s a selection of informational nuggets, none of which contain a photo of Ines Sainz. (I’ll pause a minute or so while everyone under 25 Googles “Ines Sainz”…aaand we’re back.)

Fast Meals

If you’re not in a dorm, you’re probably forced to cook for yourself. What could you ask your parents to give you that would make healthy food preparation quicker? The Food Processor, the One-Man Band of the ’70s, Takes Center Stage is an introduction to the original grater, slicer, chopper, mixer, blender and whipper, all in one. And don’t let them cheap out with one of those Silver Bullets, either. [NY Times]

Get It Together, Man

Let’s face it, you’ve slouched through another summer and you’re going back into the new school year with the same baggage you carried around all last year. Well, here’s a chance to get your mind in order. I can’t say I’ve seen a better list of mental self-improvement tips maybe ever. Samples:

3. Realize that unexpected events can be a good thing. As the Dalai Lama once said, “Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.”

12. Meet with a professional counselor if there are issues you need to discuss. Many people are struggling with dead weight from the past or emotional baggage that is holding them back. Deal with them and move on with professional assistance.

21. Spend time with yourself each day. Susan Taylor states that “spending quiet time alone gives your mind an opportunity to renew itself and create order.”

30. Change your toothbrush. It can be a hotbed of bacteria.

47. Live in the present, not the past. The past is over. Move on and enjoy every moment as it occurs. Take stock of what needs to be accomplished and move forward with this information.

All good advice. Especially the part about the toothbrush. It was all alone in there with your roommate… [Litemind]

Fun at Parties?

You’re alone watching late night TV and see that Shake Weight ad. Suddenly your credit card starts burning a hole in your back pocket. Those guys have muscles on their muscles! And they’re all using the Shake Weight!

Ever heard of the word “models”?

In case you needed proof, the guys at Wired tested the Shake Weight, and found it, in their own words, “Hilarious but Useless.” And really, that goes for most workout gimmicks (I’m talking to you, Thighmaster!). Maybe go over to the computer and order up some non-shake weights. [Wired]

I Win $10

Jack LaLanne is not dead. He’s pushing 96, though. It seems that all that exercise and the Juice Tiger have kept him healthy after all. He might not be towing any barges to celebrate this birthday, but it looks like he’s still feisty. And let us pause to thank him for introducing the co-ed gym. [AOL News]

Where Ya Goin’, Five-Head?

What’s that, you say? The other kids dissing your put-downs because they’re played? The guys at The Grooming Lounge have put together a short list of slang terms for unkempt facial hair, skin problems, and other unfortunate issues that you can use to feel superior to your fellow man. Bat Wings? That’s a new one. [The Grooming Lounge]

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