PFF Breakfasts: The Secret to Kickstart Your Day
PFF: Protein, Fibre, Fat.
Almost everyone who is a registered dietician, nutritionist, health coach, or any health guru or someone who thrives healthily on a clean eating lifestyle would know these nutrients are crucial to any meal. Protein and fats are crucial for cellular functioning as they take part in many biological processes that help with energy, hormone synthesis and more.
Sipping on my PFF Green smoothie as I type this out, it has made me think of how tasty and balanced this drink is!
The first time I heard of this ultimate combo combined with greens is from Kelly LeVeque, celebrity coach and wellness expert talk about her Fab Four formula on a mindbodygreen podcast.
She talked in depth and in simple terms about blood sugar levels in the body and how avoiding glucose and fructose in the morning as much as possible can help us avoid mindless snacking and sugar crashes later on in the day.
Let me give you the recipe for this wonderful smoothie first though, before you learn more about managing blood sugar levels!
1 Mexican Avocado (you can use 1/2 of a California Avocado)
1.5 cups plant based oat milk (other non-dairy milks work as well)
1 tbsp flaxseeds
1/2 tbsp matcha (this could be more if you’re drinking in the morning because it will give you that caffeine kick without jitters)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup water (for dilution) and a little ice
1/2 pack of frozen spinach
Blend all ingredients together in a blend. Tweak according to taste and texture preference . Add more liquids if you would like it thinner or use only 1/2 an avocado if you prefer a less creamy ratio to greens.
Blood Sugar Levels: What is the big deal?
Are you someone who needs a sugar fix right when you wake up? Need some of that coffee caffeine plus a croissant or a simple bread fix from a local bakery?
You probably go through your entire day running on caffeine and sugar and needing another round of fixes after lunch in order to avoid food coma. Chances are, your body is not being satiated at all because there is a lack of fibre, protein and fats.
By now, you should know that refined sugars are considered the enemy in terms of having an unhealthy diet. They are sugar molecules that have been stripped of nutrition entirely and cause our blood sugar levels (glucose) to rise quickly in our bloodstream whenever we ingest them. Insulin is then released and its job is to convert and store glucose in the body as glucagon until you use them at a later time (for example during exercise).
Currently, most people have blood sugar levels that are out of balance due to increased intake of desserts and poor nutrient foods that cause the development of insulin resistance. This means there is low sensitivity toward glucose and their bodies are incapable of using insulin properly to store the excessive sugars. What you get is a rise in the amount of diabetics and a whole lot of other conditions involving hormone imbalances, brain fog, dementia etc.
You might even know of family and friends who do not have diabetes or do not seem to worry about their blood sugar levels but have a host of other problems that affect the way they digest food, sleep and have poor mental clarity. Those are root causes of having too much refined processed foods with artificial chemicals and sweeteners too.
Having refined sugars in meals do not help us store energy properly and worse still, over time it will affect other areas of our body by causing inflammation and low energy production in cells.
Fat: Unsaturated fats.
When we talk about fats, we are mostly talking about unsaturated fats that are found in salmon, walnuts, a variety of seeds and avocadoes. You might have heard of omega 3s and omega 6s. Dietician Mckel gives a really good overview and in depth explanation about healthy fats. In fact, she gives so much detail and clear explanations that I am going to round it up for you in a simple paragraph! (And if you do not have enough time to read and absorb right now)
Fat is a necessary and one of the three major macronutrients that we need for our bodies to function. Gaining a lot of attention in recent years, it is popular due to the emergence of the ketogenic diet. Proponents claim that our bodies are able to run fully on fats via the use of ketones instead of glucose. The keto diet has also been shown to help children with epilepsy in the past and many other benefits beyond weight loss.
In a nut shell, fats are so important in our diet especially for women because they help to form part of the cell membrane and are helpful for fat soluble vitamins A,D,E and K to be digested. In terms of hormone balance, all hormones are derived from fats - they (hormones) are chemical substances synthesised in small amounts and carried between tissues in the bloodstream to affect every organ in the body. Examples include stress hormone cortisol; sex hormones progesterone, estrogen /androgen, thyroid. Thus, fats in the diet is important for adequate hormone function! In addition, fats help you to feel fuller longer and this helps to balance blood sugar levels because you would not be wanting to reach for anything else to munch on in between meals.
Protein: basic building blocks.
Many of us are more familiar with protein and we immediately think of animal meats and protein powders. If you notice, most of my protein in my breakfast bowls or smoothies come from plant based protein seeds and nuts because they contain a good amount of healthy fat too, so score. (love ingredients that gives you a bang for your buck!) Other good sources of protein for breakfast include eggs and greek unsweetened yogurt.
Protein is made up of nine essential amino acids that form the building blocks of our cells. They are involved in everything everywhere in a lot of biological processes. Think of any process in your head and protein is essential there: digestion, making hormones, sleeping, rebuilding muscle, transportation of molecules etc. Just like fat, protein keeps you feeling satiated longer too and this is crucial to kick the bad habits of snacking later on in the day!
You can choose between animal and plant protein for your meals and as a guide to flexitarian eating, choose the type of protein that works best for you based on your preference and body signals.
Honestly, having written up to this point I want to give you a good recipe that consists of both healthy fats and protein so take this one from Parsley Health that looks like a fantastic lunch.
Fibre: One component that is missing most of the time.
Dietary fibre is found in plant based sources and in a lot of greens - aids digestion by regulating bowel movements and signals to your body that it is full! If you are constantly eating on foods that have a lack of protein, fats and fibre in them, your body will not be able to tell that it is already full. How does fibre help with regulating blood sugar levels? It takes a long time for it to be digested and thus your body will not release the hunger hormone ghrelin at random times of the day, keeping your eating pattern in check. Fibre helps to get rid of toxic waste by binding to them and in addition alter gut bacteria thus influencing our gut and immune health.
Greens are the cherry on top! Before you get to adding superfoods or other fruit, don’t forget to add those leafy greens.
The brassica family, otherwise known as cruciferous vegetables have a high amount of fibre, antixoxidants, minerals and vitamins that help to curb sugar cravings and balance your blood sugar levels. They are famous as the top tier of vegetables and everyone could do well on having more greens in their meals. My favourites in bowls and smoothies are either salad greens or organic spinach and bak choy. Some people blend broccoli or kale too and that is perfectly fine.
Best thing about the PFF? It gives you good energy and both macro & micro nutrients to start your day. Have a good mix of the PFF in your lunch and dinners too and living a healthier eating diet will be a breeze. And that my friends, is the secret sauce. There is no magic pill nor one single diet that fits all, but rather a combination of good nutrient dense whole foods.
Here’s to food awareness and intentional eating! You are truly what you eat.