To breakfast or not to breakfast?

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The case for breakfast is that studies generally show that both children and adults that eat breakfast, particularly a bowl of cereal, are more likely to be a healthy weight. Interestingly, this effect may be less to do with breakfast but an attitude to their general health, in that they exercise more and drink less alcohol. Some experts suggest that eating breakfast means you are less likely to snack during the morning, but many find the opposite is true and find they are more likely to feel hungry a few hours after breakfast. This may be to do with the choices people make, perhaps a breakfast of wholegrains and proteins will be more satisfying and help you feel full until lunchtime, but equally, a person that doesn’t feel hungry during the morning and crucially will make a healthy choice at lunchtime, then I would say that skipping breakfast occasionally is fine if it helps them to control their weight.

Lifestyles have changed dramatically over the last 50 years, and whereas the majority of people needed a hearty breakfast to provide energy for a physically active day ahead, it is doubtful most desk-bound workers need the same. It is often said that eating breakfast ‘kick starts’ the body’s metabolism, in other words bringing it from a fasted state to a fed state, but with our increased culture of snacking and grazing between meals, the importance of allowing the body to spend more time in the fasted state has been recognized as hugely beneficial to not just weight management but also in lowering risk of conditions like diabetes. Breakfast choices are often healthy but carbohydrate heavy including grains, fruits and dairy products. In fact, the protein food group is often overlooked, eggs are an obvious and nutritious choice, but lean meats, oily fish and nuts could also be included, for example a handful of unsalted nuts added to yogurt instead of fruit. Try to achieve a balance on your plate so portion sizes of carbohydrate foods are kept small. This will ensure the calorie count doesn’t get out of control and the addition of the protein can help in controlling appetite between meals.  While you may not need to eat immediately on waking, of prime importance is to take on some fluid as hydration levels will have dipped overnight. Trying to function in a semi-dehydrated state will impact on your morning mood and performance.

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So to breakfast or not to breakfast? It would seem that occasional skipping of breakfast (as long as you drink something) is not as bad as it was once thought, you can use it to offset a large meal the night before (unless it results in you demolishing a packet of biscuits by 10 o’clock). And be realistic about your day ahead, a quiet day in the office doesn’t warrant a huge bowl of porridge, but on a busy day when you might struggle to find time for lunch it would be the perfect set up.

5 Breakfast Ideas

Spicy eggs with a green tea

Heat a few sprays of oil in a pan, add a chopped spring onion, half a chopped red peppers and a sprinkle of chilli flakes and cumin seeds, cook for a minute or two, add a small can of chopped tomatoes, season and cook for 10 minutes. Crack an egg into the tomato mixture, cover and cook for 7-10 minutes according to how runny you like the yolk.

High protein strained yogurt and a glass of low sugar cranberry juice

Take a pot of unsweetened strained yogurt, empty into a bowl and add a handful of mixed berries and a handful of mixed unsalted nuts.

Wholegrain toast with nut butter with a skinny latte

Toast a slice of wholegrain toast, spread evenly but not too thickly with a nut butter, sprinkle with a pinch of paprika or cinnamon.

Veg omelette and a black coffee

Grate half a courgette and slice 5 or 6 mushrooms. Separate 2 eggs, whisk the egg whites to form stiff peaks form. Beat the egg yolks with a dash of Tabasco and a pinch of salt and pepper. With a metal spoon gently fold egg yolk into whisked whites. Heat a pan and spray with a little oil. Fry the courgette and mushrooms for a minute or two, then add the egg mixture and cook until the omelette is set.

Oat berry smoothie

In a blender, whiz together the one small banana, ½ a punnet of berries (e.g. blueberries, raspberries or hulled strawberries), 50ml of low fat milk and 1 small pot of unsweetened yogurt. Stir in 1 tbsp of oats and pour into a container or flask. Allow to chill in the fridge (perfect to make the night before).

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