Brunching Basics

Tips from Kiah Ehrke, Runner’s High nutritionist

Chicago is known for their brunches. Many places even offer all-you-can eat and drink brunch specials. While this seems pretty great, 2 donuts, an omelet, a nutella filled crepe and 4 mimosas can quickly add up and not make you feel the best afterwards.

Follow these simple tips so you can brunch #sundayfunday style and feel good all day.

All-you-can eat/drink brunch

1. Plate 1: Fill your first plate with half vegetables/half protein. For the vegetables, this can be a salad, raw vegetables or cooked. Fill the other half with protein - eggs, omelet, meat, cottage cheese. These are the leaner proteins. Bacon and cheese are higher fat proteins so you can add a little bit of these items, if you wish. The first plate is meant to get you full and give you the protein and nutrients that your body needs. 

2. Plate 2 is the fun plate. If there is a smaller, dessert plate, use that. Every brunch buffet I've been to has an extensive sweets/dessert selection. First, scope out what they have. Next, choose two items that you really want - this will automatically make your decision easier. Lastly, enjoy them and pay attention to your fullness cues. If you feel like you truly need more food, go back for items on plate 1. 

3. Now onto the drinks. If you're drinking some type of alcoholic drink, have a glass of water for every alcoholic beverage. Incorporating water will keep you hydrated as well as slow down the entire process. Keep in mind, mimosas and bloody’s add up in calories, too, so be mindful of that. Each drink varies but one mimosa could range from 100-200 calories while a Bloody Mary (not including toppings of cheese, pickles, sausage, etc.) could also range from 200-300 calories.

Ordering items at a restaurant

Brunch menus can be overwhelming, and some items very calorie dense. Here are some go-to’s that are filled with protein and will keep you full.

1. Egg white omelet/frittata No, there is nothing wrong with eating the egg yolk; that is where most of the nutrients are. However, when you are out to eat, a dish made of egg whites can be a smart decision to save a little bit of calories while not sacrificing protein (egg whites are where most of the protein in the egg is). Add some vegetables into the dish for bonus points!

2. Vegetable hash A dish that is vegetable based - always a good choice. Usually eggs and/or another protein are added. 

3. Avocado toast Avocados are a great source of unsaturated fat (the good/healthy fat). I would always suggest adding eggs to the dish for a good protein source.

The single most important tip is to make sure you included some type of protein source in the meal. If you want pancakes try ordering an egg dish and add a side of pancake(s). Choosing a meal that’s based solely on carbohydrates and sugar (i.e. pancakes and maple syrup) will cause a spike in blood sugar but then quickly drop and cause a drop in energy levels. High carbohydrate and low protein content in a meal will make you hungry very quickly after the meal.

Here are some Chicago go-to’s that have healthy (and tasty!) options. Check out their brunch menus for yourself!

True Food Kitchen

Meli Café

Left Coast Juice and Bar

The Vig