There is a good reason we are always told breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Yet sadly, many continue to ignore this. With modern day busy lives and hectic schedules, it is understandable that many sacrifice breakfast for an extra 10 minutes snooze, replying to emails or getting the kids’ shoes on. However, the differences daily and long term, make those extra 10 minutes so worthwhile when dedicated to a healthy breakfast.
Let’s start with Glucose. This is the body’s primary source of energy. Sounds pretty vital right? First thing in the morning, when you have been asleep for what can sometimes be up to 12 hours (lucky thing), your glycogen stores are low. This is the stuff that has been stored in your muscle tissue and liver and is released slowly over night to keep blood sugar levels stable. Once this is all used up, your body starts to break down fatty acid as it now needs the energy. Eating in the morning (in the first hour preferably) restores your glycogen and boosts your energy levels for the day ahead. This glucose business is a reason that skipping breakfast can increase diabetes risk, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Ok – so breakfast gives you the energy you need for the day. Perfect. Many of us are certainly lacking that, especially that 3pm desk slump. But what else?
Breakfast feeds the brain! Well, not literally, but eating breakfast has been found to improve cognitive function, especially memory. This is why it is so important children get a nutritious and good quality breakfast before school. A bowl of sugary cornflakes can have the opposite affect contributing to health conditions such as diabetes as well as behavioural problems like ADHD.
Eating this extra meal can actually contribute to a healthy weight. I know many culprit-skippers may ask how this is possible – but let me explain. Eating a good quality meal first thing in the morning is highly likely to reduce hunger levels throughout the day, making it much easier to avoid snacking and stages of ‘hanger’.
Breakfast can also help to reduce cravings. In a study of a group of young women, it was found that eating breakfast increases levels of dopamine which is involved in controlling impulses. As these levels increase, they appear to reduce food cravings and overeating.
Then there is metabolism. If the fasting state is prolonged, this can increase the body’s insulin response and it is forced to slow its metabolism down to save energy, leading to fat storage.
Some prefer a breakfast high in carbohydrates for slow releasing energy and restoring glycogen stores. Personally, I feel my best when I have a breakfast high in protein and good quality-fats. Protein at breakfast creates a gradual blood sugar increase throughout the day which also helps with cravings, and also helps to feel fuller. I also like to make sure I have some form of greens and often add a sprinkle of chilli for a boost of immunity.
Here are some examples of my favourite high protein and omega 3 rich breakfasts:
I like to add warm berries for added flavour and antioxidants and a sprinkle of flaxseeds for a boost of Omega 3s. There are tonnes of recipes online – I prefer to use coconut flour for added good fats and a lower carb content. It also makes them fluffy!
Tomatoes are packed with vitamins and minerals including immunity-loving Vit C.
Quick, easy and filling. Tip: cook the underneath in a pan then chuck it under the grill to cook the top. So much easier than flipping and creates a nice texture. I like to make mine with turkey bacon, broccoli and feta.
So quick and versatile and can be grabbed on the go. Add toppings such as honey, nuts and seeds and berries.
Scrambled eggs in coconut oil
I like to add a side of smoked salmon and sautéed kale.
Egg baked in avocado
This is great with a side of spinach
Chia seeds are tiny beads of goodness packed with protein, fibre and omega 3s. Mix with almond milk and cinnamon, leave overnight and grab before work for a quick and delicious breakfast.
Low in fat and high in protein.
So whether it’s a lack of time or you can’t stomach food first thing – try for a week or two getting up 10 minutes early and eating small, light meals and see how you get on. I warn you though – you may experience more energy, happy tummy and all round awesome-ness.
Jenni Kiddle is currently studying Nutritional Therapy at the Institute for Optimum Nutrition. She is on a journey to inspire others to flourish, glow and be the best humans they can be through nutritiously fuelling their body, quality exercise and positivity.
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