Continental Breakfast

Many Americans skip breakfast for one reason or another. Some do not have time and will eat something later, and others are not hungry.

Research indicates people who do not eat breakfast tend to gain more weight than people who eat breakfast on a regular basis.

Breakfast literally means “break fast.” What fast you may ask? The fast between your last meal of the day and your first meal of the net day. For many people, the period of fasting is 10 or more hours; longer than the 4 to 6 hour periods between meals for people eating three meals per day including snacks. Adults and children who skip breakfast are running on vapors. Alertness and other function decline, and when they do eat their first meal of the day it usually includes more calories than their body needs. The excess calories (calories breakfast provides) is converted to body fat.

Your brain monitors the level of glucose in your blood and food in your digestive tract. It takes about 4 to 5 hours for your stomach to empty after a meal. When your blood glucose level drops to a set point, which varies from person to person, the brain expects more fuel (food) and triggers the hunger reflex.

Even if you do not feel hungry when you start your day, eating a light breakfast is better than eating no breakfast for controlling your weight.

Continental Breakfast

Continental Breakfast

A continental-style breakfast is ideal for people who have little or no time or appetite for a full American-style eggs, toast, and bacon breakfast. A continental breakfast can be as simple as a cup of coffee and a cookie providing a few hundred calories. It can be cold (cookies, pastries, fresh fruit, rolls) or hot (eggs, oatmeal, toast, and jam). Continental breakfasts can be healthy or a source of empty calories. Here are a few examples for healthy continental breakfasts:

  • Coffee and a roll with butter or jam
  • Coffee and a croissant with or without butter or jam
  • Milk or coffee and a few cookies
  • Toast with butter or jam
  • Homemade muffins
  • Piece of fruit (apple, banana, plums, etc.)
  • Bowl of oatmeal
  • A slice of pie or cake you your going to eat the night before after dinner at home or at a restaurant.
  • These are only a few examples of simple continental-style breakfasts that  provide a few hundred calories or over 1,000 calories if it is a slice of cake or pie. For 700 calorie breakfasts go easy on the cake, pastries, and pies.

With Convenience Comes Calories

To maintain or lose wight, it is easier skipping high calories breakfast items like sausage and egg muffin sandwiches, breakfast biscuits, and 1,000 calorie pastries and coffee than to lose excess body fat from eating these foods. While most seem like a bargain, you get a lot of calories, fat, and sodium for your money.

Two McDonalds Sausage McMuffin™ with egg can seem like a screaming deal, but for your few dollars you get 900 calories, 20 grams of saturated fat, and 1,720 mg of sodium. A Carl’s Jr. Monster Biscuit™ packs 810 calories, 25 grams of saturated fat, and 1,850 mg of sodium into 9-ounces of food. Both examples provide more calories than a full American breakfast of 2 eggs, 2 strips of bacon, 2 slices of toast, and hash brown potatoes (645 calories).

Toaster pastries, fast food, and casual restaurant breakfasts are convenient. But at what price? You usually get foods high in calories, fat, and sodium, made with preservatives, artificial colors, and artificial flavors? Breakfast croissant, biscuit, and muffin sandwiches have become so popular you can buy frozen versions and reheat them in your microwave oven.

You can use your toaster to heat two toaster pasties that are mostly flour and sugar with very little real fruit, artificial ingredients and preservatives, and 400 calories, or toast an English muffin or whole wheat bread and top it sparingly with butter and your favorite jam or preserves for the same number of calories or less.

No-Cook Continental Breakfast Suggestions

A cold continental breakfast require no cooking. Numerous hotel and motel chains offer a cold continental breakfast consisting of pasties, breads, yogurt, and fresh fruit. Some offer hot breakfast foods like oatmeal and toasted bagels or breads. Still others serve scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, and waffles.

Eating a simple, cold continental breakfast providing a few hundred calories is better than skipping breakfast. You have dozens of options. Here are a few suggestions for continental style cold breakfasts requiring no cooking and only minutes a few minutes to prepare and eat:

  • Whole grain cold breakfast cereals
  • Cakes
  • Cookies
  • Fresh fruit
  • Muffins
  • Pies
  • Pastries
  • Rolls with butter
  • Sweet breads (banana, zucchini)
  • Croissant with butter or jam
  • Tuna salad with crackers or a sandwich

If your goal is losing weight, enjoying a slice of cake or pie for breakfast is better than having it for dessert after dinner. Cakes and pies are high in calories. Adding a 400 calorie slice of cake or pie to a 700 calorie dinner makes it a 1,100 calorie meal. If you do not account for the dessert calories, the extra calories go to your hips and abdomen. Ordering restaurant desserts to go and having them  for breakfast the following morning when your daily calorie counter resets to zero allows you to enjoy an occasional dessert and still lose weight. It comes down to allocating calories to stay within your daily meal plan. A sample continental breakfast providing less than 500 calories could look like this.

Continental Breakfast Calories
Food Calories
Beverage 0 – 140
Toasted Bread 70 – 140
Butter 30 – 50
Fresh Fruit 100
Total 200 – 430

On the low side, 200 calories is the equivalent of one toaster paster without beverage. On the high side, it is about 30 calories more than 2 toaster pastries or less then one egg and sausage muffin sandwich without beverage.

Depending on the type of bread you use, homemade versus store bought, you reduce your exposure to man-made chemical food additives like artificial colors and flavors, and preservatives that give toaster pastries their one-year shelf life without refrigeration. Even the scrambled eggs used for many fast food and frozen muffin sandwiches have preservatives to maintain freshness.

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