Tips for a healthy, filling breakfast

WASHINGTON — They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and Paul Kita of Men’s Health magazine says that following a few simple principles can make it the healthiest.

It all starts in the supermarket, Kita told WTOP’s Dmitri Sotis, and cutting through the hype to pick a healthy cereal.

Kita calls food packaging “the Wild West,” with very few rules. So when you get to the store, he says, ignore “the flashy packaging … the nutrition claims on the front.”

The first thing you should be looking at on a cereal box is the nutrition-facts panel on the side — “that’s the only thing that’s controlled by the USDA,” Kita says.

And when you check out the panel, Kita says, you should follow the 5-5-10 rule: In each serving, look for at least 5 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein — “both of those will help fill you up” — and no more than 10 grams of sugar.

Kita says consumers would be amazed at how much sugar some cereals have.

Once you’ve got a good basic cereal, you can mix in different ingredients for different health benefits, Kita says.

To boost your brainpower, jazz up some high-fiber flakes with a quarter-cup of dark chocolate pieces and a cup of blackberries, he recommends.

“You get these great cognitive benefits from both of these foods,” he says.

For heart health, cut up a large apple and add some sliced almonds. Buy the almonds pre-sliced, Kita says — trying to do it yourself is a prescription for a cut finger..

If you’re looking to build muscles, you can doctor your cereal to get the most out of your workout.

“Get your protein from real sources,” Kita advises.

Skip the milk and substitute four ounces of Greek yogurt and a quarter-cup of pumpkin seeds.

“If you do this about an hour before lifting, you’ll actually maximize the amount of muscle you’re building after the workout,” he says.

This all sounds like a lot of food to eat in the morning, but if you do it right, you’ll flatten your belly, Kita says. Especially if you mix in some ground chia seeds.

“Your body absorbs the fiber in them, and that helps you feel fuller longer,” Kita says.

And combining them with a banana is “delicious.”

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