Recently I have come to the conclusion that a direct correlation can be made between the type of breakfast you are eating and the results you are achieving with your health and fitness plan.
People who kick start their day with a well-balanced nutritious breakfast have had much greater success in our program than those that skip breakfast or have a breakfast with little or no nutrition in it.
I am regularly surprised at how common it is that breakfast is the weak link in people’s diet.
I believe there are two main reasons for this. Reason one being that there are lots of very poor breakfast choices on the market. Almost every cereal in the shops is loaded with sugar and contains little to no nutrition in them. When we eat a sugary food we get a big influx of sugar into our blood stream, in order to deal with this our bodies will release the hormone insulin which will remove almost all the sugar from the blood and place it in their cells (often the fat cells!). The goal of insulin is to lower your blood sugars so logically a sugar high is always followed by a sugar low. A sugar low then causes us to crave more sugar or a stimulant like caffeine to pick our energy levels up. So by having a sugary cereal in the morning we are setting ourselves up to be on a sugar chasing roller coaster all day long as well as putting the body in fat storage mode!
The second reason for the difficulties around getting a healthy breakfast is a lack of understanding on what constitutes a good breakfast. There is lots of false marketing around breakfast cereals being high in fibre or that they will keep you fuller for longer, or that they have cholesterol lowering properties and are fortified with iron and calcium (and don’t get me started on the marketing campaigns around sugar loaded cereals for children). Much of these claims are marketing spin and there are actually very few breakfast available on our shops shelves that can truly back these claims up.
When I deliver nutrition talks or consultations with our clients many people will say ’I start my day with a healthy breakfast – I have toast and banana and a glass of fruit juice every day’. On the surface this looks healthy, there is no fat and it is relatively low in calories. This however is also a terrible way to start your day. Bread, banana and fruit juice are all simple sugars that will have the exact same effect as sugary cereal. So even when many people think they are having a good healthy breakfast they are actually eating poor quality processed foods.
Alongside this years of programming from childhood has deeply ingrained the current habits and beliefs that breads, cereals and croissants (if you like to go a little European) are what we should have and have always had for breakfast. Breaking these habits and beliefs can be very challenging for many people, but surely it makes sense that if you start your day off with a poor quality meal the rest of the day is likely to follow suit.
Other issues around having a healthy breakfast are claims from people that they don’t have any time in the morning to make something. Recently I timed myself making my favourite breakfast which is high in protein, fats and good carbohydrates and it only took me 4 minutes. Your’e not telling me that you can’t get up out of bed 4 minutes early to get your day off to the best possible start?
For many moving away from bread and cereal can also be a problem because they simply do not fancy them in the morning. Again this can normally be overcome with a dash of perseverance, as your body will gradually adapt to these changes.
Ok now we have a better understanding of the don’ts of breakfast let’s have a look at the do’s and how to achieve a more healthy start your day. At breakfast like every other meal you must aim to eat all three macronutrients (protein, fats and carbohydrates). This will keep you fuller for longer, help kick start your metabolism and will give you a much more natural and slow release of energy. Like everything we advise around nutrition aim to eat food in its most natural state.
Below are some of my favourite breakfast choices
- Scrambled eggs, smoked salmon and spinach
- Natural yoghurt, blueberries, cinnamon and flaked almonds
- Boiled eggs, cottage cheese and tomatoes
- Porridge oats (preferably gluten free) with natural yoghurt
- Green smoothie; spinach, avocados, frozen berries, natural yoghurt and flax seeds with coconut. (tastier than it sounds)
- Leftover healthy dinners or lunches
So if you are struggling to lose weight; feel low in energy or have cravings for sugar and junk food take a look at your breakfast and see if you can get rid of these problems through one simple change to your daily routines.