Load Me Up for Breakfast

by Brittany on March 6, 2012

Calorie-counting is a funny thing.

A couple weeks ago, I introduced you all the the MyPlate calorie tracking tool through Livestrong, and have been logging in my meals ever since. Although I’m not trying to lose weight, I decided to take on the responsibility of tracking my eats to inevitably gain a better understanding of which food groups my calories were coming from and what meals I was bulking them into.

Although MyPlate DID allow me to see that I could afford to add more carbs into my diet, it also did something a bit counterproductive as well. I have always been a big breakfast eater, and in fact, started to see the most progress during my weight loss journey when I began bulking up my morning meals. I’m talking anywhere from 500-700 calories to start off the day, which naturally would keep my later meals on the smaller side because I wouldn’t get as hungry for lunch or dinner. When I began logging my intake, I unintentionally did something that really started to screw up my eating “balance”—I began to equal out the calories in all of my meals throughout the day. For instance, instead of having a large breakfast, a medium lunch, and a smaller dinner, I was having a medium breakfast, medium lunch, and medium dinner.

What did this do? Made me hungrier than ever! Because I wasn’t giving my body the intake that it was used to in the mornings, I became a snack MACHINE throughout the day (as if I wasn’t one already). I’m not downplaying snacking at all, but at times it got to the point where no matter WHAT I ate, I was never satisfied. Last night after eating a generously-portioned dinner, realizing that I was still hungry, and wondering what was up—it finally hit me. Calorie-counting and eating equal-portioned meals throughout the day may be a good strategy for some, but I should have trusted that there was a reason for my growling morning-belly and tendency to eat bigger breakfasts than my own boyfriend. That is truly what my body needed, saw results from, and clung to!

me will breakfast

So like the rebel that I am– what did I do for breakfast this morning? Brought back a larger bowl of oats with more nut butter (sorry PB2!), extra protein, and topped it off with decorative drizzles just for kicks 8)

big bowl of oats

Into the mix:

  • 1/3 cup Coach’s Oats
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds (using chia seed method)
  • Frozen & mashed banana
  • 1 tbsp hemp protein
  • Almond milk
  • Strawberries, mixed in instead of as a topping
  • Cinnamon
  • Stevia
  • Topped with: Cocoa Bliss Chocolate Coconut Butter & Sunbutter

big oat bowl

Hefty breakfast = Happy Brittany :D

nut butter combo in oats

Please understand that I’m not trying to knock anyone’s personal style of eating, nor am I trying to shun calorie counting and all that it stands for. Rather, what I AM trying to say is that having large overwhelming, mind-blowing, calorie-dense breakfasts is the method that works best for me, and it took a hiatus of tracking my own meals for me to even realize it.

A bit to think about: Do your meals tend to balance out, or do you prefer a heavier breakfast like I do?

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{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

Miz March 6, 2012 at 6:53 am

I added in breakfast 18 years ago. Lost 35lbs and never quit breakfasting :-)
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Emma @ Microcosm of Life March 6, 2012 at 7:09 am

Agree with all of this, Brittany! I’ll see articles all the time suggesting a healthy meal plan, but you have to take them with a grain of salt–different things work for different people. I’m a breakfast lover myself, and nothing sticks to my ribs quite like a bowl of oatmeal. To those who can eat cereal/eggs/pancakes for breakfast (or, gasp, no breakfast) and be satisfied, more power to ya! But it just ain’t my thang.
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Emma @ Microcosm of Life March 6, 2012 at 7:10 am

Actually, no. Not eating breakfast at all is not something I can get behind. Haha.
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Ellie@Fit for the Soul March 6, 2012 at 12:11 pm

hahaha! Uhhhh I totally agree with that! I am always curious how people “survive”…but I might just be melodramatic, that’s all. :P

And this is cool stuff Britt! I loooove love breakfast and all that it stands for, so I try to eat hearty breakfasts, as you can probably tell…my lunches are always the smallest, and dinners are medium~sometimes a bit large. Lunch is usually a given along with snacks, but dinner is always how I’m feeling that night.
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Ellen March 6, 2012 at 7:13 am

Good Morning Brittany is that MyPlate a free website?

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Brittany March 6, 2012 at 7:21 am

Yes ma’am!
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Julie H. of Spinach and Sprinkles March 6, 2012 at 7:17 am

Everything is completely different person to person…. no two people are alike and I swear even we evolve from ourselves sometimes. I am a grazer, it is who I am. I usually load up on breakfast though- it keeps me focused at work and not a crazy person. It’s probably best for everyone involved :)
Keep being Brittany – we all kind of like her just the way she is :) Happy Tuesday!
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Alexandra March 6, 2012 at 7:52 am

I used to have massive breakfasts too, but I would feel super sluggish all morning, so I began to kind of equal out every meal. I guess I’m an official grazer heehee ;) It’s neat to see how people differ!
BTW that breakfast bowl looks like a pool of yumminess!
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Linz @ Itz Linz March 6, 2012 at 7:54 am

as i sit here with my large bowl of oats + pb + banana, i think it’s safe to say i prefer heftier breakfasts as well!
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Lisa @ RunWiki March 6, 2012 at 8:03 am

It is always good to experiment with different methods and portions size. I feel like I am always learning in this department. Nutrition is about finding the right balance for what is happening that day. I tend to eat a huge breakfast when I am going on a long run, but know some people that cannot tollerate that. On days when I do not run I have to eat a smaller portion because being 44 I can pack on the lbs. like crazy if I’m not very aware of my portion size. Nice post B!
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Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean March 6, 2012 at 8:13 am

that’s so interesting! i think i’ve always been a smaller breakfast kinda person. i always eat two bowls of cereal but it’s not a crazy amount or packed with tons of calories…but i work best with several smaller meals throughout the day. it’s so interesting how everyone is different about stuff like this
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Kierston March 6, 2012 at 8:19 am

Every diet/nutrition plan varies from person to person. We are all made differently and our metabolism work at differentiating speeds. It’s always a great thing knowing what works for YOU. It is your body after all and you know it best! Giving it what it needs when it needs it is important and I’m happy to hear you figured out :) I have to say, my all-time favorite meal of the day is Breakfast…unless of course I’m having sushi for dinner (then it’s a tie! lol). p.s. You oatmeal bowl looks super yum!
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Kristen @ notsodomesticated March 6, 2012 at 8:39 am

It’s interesting you’re writing about this today. Just recently, I bought more “hearty” bread than I usually do and I’ve been using a little more peanut butter when I make my “peanut butter and banana on whole wheat” in the morning … which led to me eating probably closer to 500 calories a day, vs. 350-400. In doing so, I found that (in general) I wasn’t as hungry throughout the day.

Then the past couple of days, I probably had smaller calorie breakfasts, and I noticed that I was a lot hungrier during the day! I think I’m going to make a conscious effort to eat more for breakfast in the upcoming days, and see what kind of difference it makes! :)
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Brittany March 6, 2012 at 4:53 pm

That’s really interesting that you’re observing something similar at the moment too! Keep me posted, I’d love to hear which kind of breakfast you prefer
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chelcie @ chelcie's food files March 6, 2012 at 8:42 am

having a larger breakfast definitely works better for me as well! I find that I’m always on the go with school and if I don’t eat a really filling breakfast I am hungry about an hour later!
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Emily Butler March 6, 2012 at 8:54 am

I have always been a breakfast person, I always wake up starving, a nice bowl of oatmeal keeps me full until lunch, unless I workout in the morning then I usually need a snack before lunch like some fruit or Greek yogurt! (by the way does Greek yogurt keep anyone else super full as well??) and then the rest of the day I eat according to when I feel hungry and only eat a small portion so I don’t over do it. Then I try and not eat past 7 and allow my body a 12 hour break to fast every day until I eat again.

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Emily @ Perfection Isn't Happy March 6, 2012 at 9:00 am

I’m the same way. I have to eat a big breakfast or I will be hungry by 10:00, and snack my way to lunch!
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Nescett @ bananaoats March 6, 2012 at 9:20 am

Sounds like you learned something valuable about your body! I’m also a big breakfast eater. I never understand those people who can do an apple and some almonds. I need a LOT of food in the morning.

I think that as much as we need to listen to “health advice” we also need to trust what has been working for us.
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Theresa March 6, 2012 at 9:40 am

its so interesting to see what works for different people…but everybody is different, and i think its an awesome thing to have bigger breakfasts. for me, i differ, but my lunches tend to be my bigger meals. and i’m definitely a snacker/grazer.

i dont calorie count, but i know it was important to my weight loss journey, it can definitely be an eye opening experience!
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Madeline (Food, Fitness, and Family) March 6, 2012 at 9:45 am

DEFINITELY eat a BIG breakfast! My lunch is normally pretty small and then I have a medium size dinner. I think it’s big personal thing … plus a good breakfast jump starts your metabolism :) BUT I realized the same thing when I started counting calories after having Emmie … I realized how breakfast heavy my days were. Cset le vie :)
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Michelle @ Our Dream, Made Out of Real Things March 6, 2012 at 9:50 am

Heavier breakfasts are totally for me too. I can’t fathom how people eat NO breakfast when I pretty much can’t function without food in the morning!
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natalie @ southern fit foodie March 6, 2012 at 10:00 am

I tried the same thing a while back – but it only caused me to eat more throughout the day. I love having an incredibly filling and satisfying breakfast! I would say my breakfast is around 400-500 calories a day (just guestimating), and I eat small snacks mid-morning and mid-afternoon (or in between classes if it’s a day I’m teaching doubles), a medium lunch and a smallish dinner.
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Brittany March 6, 2012 at 7:26 pm

It’s one of those “dont mess with something that isn’t broken” situations ;) ha
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Kelly @ Laughter, Strength, and Food March 6, 2012 at 10:09 am

I love to eat a big breakfast too! For me, work gets so crazy sometimes and I end up skipping lunch, so if I eat a big breakfast, I know that I’m going to have fuel to power through those days.
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Kelsey @ The Secret Life of Kelsey March 6, 2012 at 10:10 am

I’m the opposite! I have an average breakfast, medium lunch, and big dinner! (I workout first thing in the morning, and don’t like feeling stuffed!) This works for me :)
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Michelle @ Blogitness March 6, 2012 at 10:32 am

Your breakfast looks amazing!
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Ashley @ My Food 'N' Fitness Diaries March 6, 2012 at 10:40 am

i’m glad you realized what works best for YOU because it’s so different for everyone. i’m a huge advocate of having a good breakfast. my breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all right around the same number of calories, but that’s just what works best for me. having a mid morning and mid afternoon snack help me not turn into a ravenous beast in the evening though.
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faith @ For the Health of It March 6, 2012 at 10:41 am

That’s really the downside of calorie counting – it prevents you from listening to what you want on a day to day basis and you end up sticking your body in some preconceived notion of what you wanted/needed days or weeks ago. Things change drastically and it’s never a good idea to stuff yourself into one box, diet-wise! Great that you’re figuring out how to best fuel yourself for right now :)

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Claire @ Live and Love to Eat March 6, 2012 at 10:47 am

I love calorie counting just because I like seeing the numbers. I eat two breakfasts – something small (150-ish) before work and something bigger (250 – 300) at work. :)
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Jennie (the gf-gf) March 6, 2012 at 10:58 am

This post is so spot-on – except my BIG meal is lunch. I don’t like to eat a lot in the mornings, and I don’t like having a huge meal before bed, which means I have the most appetite and need the most fuel at lunchtime! But sometimes I forget, or don’t pack a big enough lunch to take to work, and sure enough, I’m starving at the end of the day.
Fabulous post, lady!
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StoriesAndSweetPotatoes March 6, 2012 at 11:04 am

I need a heavier breakfast as well. I work out right after breakfast so that’s part of it but I think we need a full balanced meal first thing in the AM. Honestly, I think most people would benefit from a larger breakfast but our society is so focused on dinner as the biggest meal. I understand YOU’RE not trying to say this…but I will…calorie counting screws everything up. ;)
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Lindsay @ In Sweetness and In Health March 6, 2012 at 11:09 am

I wonder if this is something that would work for me! Although on days that I have had really large breakfasts I still get really hungry the rest of the day…I think I’m just always hungry haha. Maybe I should try it again though. Hope that today you’ll feel better and less snacky after having that delicious looking and filling breakfast!
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Jana @ Newly Wife Healthy Life March 6, 2012 at 11:18 am

I am definitely the same way! Big breakfasts keep me full so much longer than a large lunch or dinner do. I would say breakfast is my most caloric meal, followed by dinner, and I think lunch is my smallest. I am not a huge snacker, so this works for me!
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Liz @ Southern Charm March 6, 2012 at 11:29 am

LOVE this post! Everyone is different with their eats … I love medium breakfast, small am snack, medium lunch, medium afternoon snack and small dinners … but I do get munchies at night, so I’m trying to eat more in the mornings to see how it helps .. it’s just hard to change habits :)
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Krystina (Krystina Zena) March 6, 2012 at 11:38 am

It’s funny, my boyfriend always comments on the fact that my my breakfasts are huge and he doesn’t understand since my other meals are smaller, but it’s what works for me, too. If I don’t eat a big breakfast in the morning then I always eat more later on, and I like starting the day with a full belly. I’d rather eat a lighter dinner to save room for a treat (hello ice cream) than eat a huge dinner and go to bed uncomfortable.

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Nikki March 6, 2012 at 11:49 am

Although it’s nice to try new things, it’s ultimately best to listen to your body! Way to go to you! :) No cutting out that turkey bacon in the near future ;)
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Paige @ Healthy Hits the Spot March 6, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Calorie counting totally messed me up in so many ways. Mind & body. I was totally obsessed and never satisfied. I find it SO much better to just listen to your body, exercise, and let it weight/do what it wants. Your body knows the natural weight that it is comfortable with, and when you are just eating healthy and exercising it will get you there :) Also, our bodies will tell us what we need if we listen, eat when hungry, and don’t deprive ourselves. Happy to see you back with the big breakfast that YOU love! :)
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Annette@EnjoyYourHealthyLife March 6, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Awesome post!! A good, healthy b-fast with lots of protein is what does IT for me ;) Good points!!
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Kristi @ lifesprinkles March 6, 2012 at 12:34 pm

as someone who wakes up hungry I am in total agreement. if I don’t fill up at breakfast I set myself up to be a snack monster all day long. sometimes I’ll even do two breakfasts, a mini pre-gym breakfast and a larger one post-gym and it definitely prevents me from over-eating later in the day. it probably doesn’t hurt that breakfast food is my favorite and I could pretty much eat it any time of day or night :)
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Sarah @ feeedingBrain and body March 6, 2012 at 12:34 pm

I definitely prefer a bigger breakfast then lunch and dinner. Especially since Im the type that likes to work out about 1 hour after breakfast! I find tracking food most useful for getting the carb/protein/fat ratio at a good level however for timing I try to just listen to my body. Most of the time that means more food earlier in then day :) Great post !
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Emily @ Glitz Glam Granola March 6, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Glad to hear that you’ve figured out what’s right for you! That’s really the most important when it comes to eating! I’ve found that it’s essential for me to have 2 small breakfasts spaced apart- one when I get up and another a few hours into work! That way I make it to lunch without feeling starving!
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Anna @ The Guiltless Life March 6, 2012 at 1:50 pm

I love doing occasional calorie tracking too (I use FitDay.com but they’re all good) – and if it’s something you can do without it triggering any obsessive tendencies, I think it’s super healthy just to do for a week or two every once in a while to see how your eating patterns are going. I think I eat smaller meals than most people but that’s because I fill up SUPER fast but eat REALLY often. I like to have 6 or so mini meals in a day, with snacks more around 200 cals and meals more around 3-400 cals. That’s just the way I tend to deal best. But my body is interesting too, I always find that without thinking about it if I overdo it one day I eat less the next. Our bodies are pretty powerful, they know what they’re doing!

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Tamara March 6, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I always make sure to add lots of protein, otherwise I crash mid morning.
My go-to? A small portion of overnight oats (I’m playing around with restricting starchy carbs to jump start some fat loss) and lots of veggies in my egg scramble!
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Lindsay @ Fuel My Family March 6, 2012 at 3:42 pm

I also have to have huge calorie dense breakfast, at least 700 calories, usually more. I am breastfeeding though so I am eating for 2! I also get all messed up if i try to skip out on my 4th bowl of cereal in the morning. I will eat twice as much during the day. Our bodies are pretty smart if we listen to the cues!
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Sally Anne @ PaleoRunnerGirl March 6, 2012 at 4:29 pm

LOVE this post! I think it is so important to figure out what works for YOUR body! I am still trying to figure out what works best for me as sometimes I need a GIANT breakfast and other days I can barely stand to eat breakfast–I wish my body was little more consistent!! Thanks for sharing this!
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Kristin March 6, 2012 at 4:45 pm

I’m the exact same way! I used to skip breakfast thinking I was doing my body a favor, but eating a bigger breakfast (especially filling oats) keeps me from wanting to snack all day. I’ve also found that having a protein shake midday keeps away the night time cravings :p
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Carrie Purchase March 6, 2012 at 4:55 pm

I think the Breakfast should be the biggest meal of the day, but it should still have a balance of carbs, proteins and fats like every other meal just higher in calories!
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Corrie Anne March 6, 2012 at 6:30 pm

I like little breakfasts and big dinners, but I know that’s not what’s best for my poor metabolism!
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Sara @my less serious life March 6, 2012 at 7:56 pm

i just spent 20 minutes reading through your post and all of these wonderful comments! it is really interesting to read how everyone is so different. what works for me (at least lately) is a big breakfast, small lunch, afternoon snack, and big dinner. and then, of course, some small ‘dessert’ type snack before bed. i hate when i eat too big or heavy of a lunch and then have to feel sluggish all afternoon. and i love looking forward to a big dinner!

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Pure2raw twins March 6, 2012 at 9:45 pm

we tend to eat more as the day goes on. in the morning we have learned to eat less as our digestive systems still waking up. we try to keep our breakfast light so we have success in the bathroom. haha sorry but true. but there are some mornings when we are starving a eat a huge meal. so everyday a little different for us.
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Julia {girls with a stethoscope} March 6, 2012 at 10:45 pm

I couldn’t agree more! Some people prefer bigger meals at bfast, lunch, or dinner – it is whatever works for YOUR body. All these “diet” plans they write about in magazines are not individualized and people tend to forget that. I am not a big bfast person (I like dinners much more) so I tend to eat most of my calories at dinner. Does it mean it’s wrong? No. It’s just what works for MY body.
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Zinedine March 7, 2012 at 6:25 am

By adding big breakfast whole my life changed. Before I was always lacking of energy.
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Aimee @The Stylish Nest March 7, 2012 at 10:52 am

I always have found that bigger breakfasts keep me much fuller all day. I have always been a breakfast eater too, but maybe they aren’t always that big. However it sure does make a difference when they are! Great post!

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Jillian @ Sprinkle Massacre March 8, 2012 at 12:03 pm

I’ve also learned that I need to load up in the morning. If I don’t, I snack all day long and then end up eating a huge dinner and feeling super full before bed!
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