Breakfast Really is the Most Important Meal of the Day!
It’s true! Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.
Over night you will have fasted, it will have been 8 – 12 hours since you last meal, so your glycogen stores (the body’s stores of carbohydrate that fuels us through the day) will be low.
If you’re not a breakfast eater and find it difficult to stomach anything first thing in the morning and are in to much of a rush to get out the door, you need to reconsider. Any food is better than no food (within reason!), and a cup of tea or coffee, whilst waking you up with a caffeine hit, doesn’t count as breakfast!
Countless studies have shown that eating breakfast kick starts your metabolism, stabilises blood sugar levels, improves concentration and reduces the chance of over indulging in high calorie foods later in the day.
For a healthy start to the day aim for a breakfast that includes starchy carbohydrate, fibre and protein. If you can, add in nutrient rich fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Rather than changing your morning habits completely, try to build on what you already eat to make it even more nutritious to set yourself up for a great day.
The great British everyday breakfast is often based around eggs, oats, cereal, toast or yoghurt. Let’s take a look at how you can power load nutrition into your breakfast.
Eggs are a great choice for breakfast. Eggs poached, scrambled, boiled, fried (in scant oil) and omelettes can all be eaten with wholemeal toast, and bacon, ham or smoked salmon for added protein, or with tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms and other veg for a hearty veggie breakfast.
Eggs are among the most nutritious foods, with both the white and yokes being rich in nutrients, protein, vitamins and minerals.
Please don’t chuck out the yoke. Yes the yoke contains cholesterol, but there is no evidence that dietary cholesterol increases “bad cholesterol” in the blood. The yoke also contains valuable fat soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids as well as heaps of protein.
Studies have shown that eating eggs at breakfast increases the feeling of fullness, keeps blood sugar and insulin levels stable and reduces calorie intake in subsequent meals.
Having smoked salmon, or another oily fish, with your eggs will give you additional protein and omega 3 fatty acids, nutrients that are associated with cardiovascular health and cogitative function. Having eggs with bacon will load you with protein as well as B vitamins. Eggs or an omelette with spinach and tomatoes will bump up your vitamin and mineral intake.
It’s not just the Scotts who are partial to a breakfast of oats. Oats are an amazing breakfast powerhouse, a great source of morning get up and go energy.
Oats contain a fibre called beta-glucon which has proven health benefits in reducing cholesterol levels, and as a viscous fibre it expands in the gut and makes you feel fuller for longer. They are also rich in antioxidants which may promote heart health and decrease blood pressure.
Oats only contain a small amount of protein, so make your porridge with milk (cows and soy are good sources of protein) to boost your breakfast protein content. I also add in an egg to my porridge. Eggs are highly nutritious, contain loads of protein and make a rich and creamy porridge.
Porridge doesn’t need to be made with added sugar (although if you’re not watching your carb and calorie intake it’s delicious with golden syrup, honey or maple syrup) and you can add fruit, such as blueberries or bananas for sweetness and added nutrition.
Blueberries are packed with antioxidants and are a good source of vitamins K, C and fibre and are a superfood you need to be including in your diet.
Adding a sliced banana will increase the carbohydrate and fibre content of your breakfast. Bananas are a great source of potassium, an important mineral for fitness enthusiasts as it helps to prevent muscle cramps after high levels of exercise.
For some added crunch, how about sprinkling on some nuts and seeds. Seeds are packed with dietary fibre, healthy fats and antioxidants. Pumpkin, chia, flax and sunflower are all delicious with porridge.
If you’re always in a rush in the mornings, and don’t have time to make breakfast, overnight oats might be your thing. Just combine oats, milk and your choice of topping in a sealed container. Leave in the fridge overnight for a delicious ready to go breakfast
Gorgeous Greek Yoghurt. Greek yoghurt is a creamy delicious yoghurt high in protein. Yoghurt, and other dairy products, have been shown to make you feel satiated after a meal and help reduce hunger pangs, so are great options if you’re looking control your morning snacking habit. Some Greek yoghurts are also good sources of probiotics, which help your gut stay healthy.
Choose unflavoured, unsweetened yoghurts and add your own flavourings. Topping Greek yoghurt with nuts, seeds and berries will increase the vitamin and mineral content of your breakfast too!
Booming Breakfast Cereals! So many packaged breakfast cereals are highly processed and loaded with sugar. So go for a more natural unsweetened product like bran flakes, corn flakes, shredded wheat or wheatabix. Eat with milk or natural yoghurt to add protein and top with fruit, nuts and seeds for added nutrition.
Granola and muesli are popular cereal choices and are packed with great nutritious oats, dried fruit, nuts and seeds. But so many shop bought versions are loaded with sugar (remember, maple syrup and honey provide similar levels of calories to granulated sugar, and whilst they contain more minerals, the amounts you would have to consume for benefits is huge!), it’s better to make up your own batch. It’ll work out cheaper, you can add your favourite fruits, nuts and seeds and you’ll know exactly what’s in it.
Traditional Toast. For years toast, with either jam or butter and marmite, was my breakfast of choice. But I powered up my breakfast after realising I was always hungry mid morning and reaching for high carb snacks.
Toast on its own will not satiate you and keep mid morning hunger pangs at bay like a breakfast of oats, dairy or eggs will. But if toast is your breakfast staple of choice there are a few tips for making it the best it can be.
Choose a good quality wholemeal bread. Processing wheat to make white flour strips the husk where most of the good fibre, vitamins and minerals are stored, so always go for wholemeal for added fibre and a good range of nutrients and B vitamins.
Good options for toast toppings are avocado and peanut butter.
Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fat, the heart friendly fat. They have a lower fat content than butter at 22% total fat and are a good source of micro nutrients, which have been associated with cardiovascular benefits.
Peanut butter is another great substitute for butter and will add protein to your breakfast too. Choose a natural peanut butter, with no added oil, salt or sugar. The combination of fat, protein and fibre in peanut butter will keep you feeling fuller for longer, and will add good quantities of vitamin E, magnesium, potassium and vitamin B6 to your breakfast too!