Breakfast is arguably the best meal of the day. Breakfast, breaks the fast that your body has been experiencing through the night. During sleep, recovery is in full affect, using up nutrients you provide it during the day to help build and recuperate the skin, muscles and even the brain.
If you tend to skip this important meal, you’re not doing yourself any favours — missed breakfasts result in consuming more calories later in the day. What’s more, breakfast helps kick-start metabolism and improve cognitive performance, but only if it is a meal packed with the right nutrition.
Struggling to determine what that should be? Here are a few breakfast dos and don’ts, as well as five healthy breakfast recipes to get you on your way.
Eat Fibre Filled Foods
Choose complex carbs like oatmeal or quinoa, multigrain or sprouted bread. You can also have fruit or slow digesting carbs like beans – think black beans or fava. We need a minimum of 25g of fibre daily to keep our gut healthy and functioning properly; fibre helps slow down digestion and sustains energy levels. Your hunger levels shall subside until your next meal at lunch.
Eat Antioxidant Rich Foods
Fruit and vegetables are rich in all kinds of natural nutrients, vitamins, minerals and phyto-nutrients that will help boost anti-oxidant levels in your body. Why is this important? Antioxidants are key factors in reducing oxidative damage, which can cause disease, ageing and inflammatory reactions. Plant food is a critical part of your nutrition regime and with so many good options when it comes to breakfast, why wouldn’t you include them? Consider berries, apples, citrus fruits and bananas. For veggies think greens like spinach or kale – mixed in omelettes or blended in smoothies!
Eat Some Protein
Protein is a highly satiating macronutrient – which means it can help keep that hangry mood from creeping up on you. It will also help stock up your amino levels – these are used to build the tissues of the skin, hair and even your muscles.
Without adequate protein in the diet you could suffer the consequence - being skinny fat instead of being lean and trim. Also, consider this, those who eat higher protein diets tend to eat less calories overall and lose more body fat!
What’s on the menu? Opt for whole eggs, nut butters, Greek yoghurt, a protein smoothie or a smoothie bowl.
Have a Good Coffee or Tea
Both these beverages have caffeine and antioxidants that can improve focus, reduce mental fatigue, increase energy, boost performance and stimulate metabolism. Consider raw coffee or matcha green tea, mixed with a drop of almond or coconut milk. Skip the sugar, or choose natural sweeteners like stevia, honey or agave.
Skip the Starchy Carbs
Forget white bread, sugary cereals, granolas and pastries like doughnuts. These highly processed carby foods are low in fibre and high in sugar and calories. Items like these use white flour, sugar, processed additives; do not provide any nutritional value and you’ll be feeling hungry shortly after you eat them. Starchy carbs spike blood glucose levels quickly, causing an energy high, quickly followed by a low. Check the label on your so-called ‘brown bread’ – is it actually made with whole grains, or does it just have brown food colouring? If you must have bread, make sure it’s made with whole grains, seeds, quinoa, amaranth or sprouted grains.
Forget Sugary Spreads
Jam is mostly a sugar-filled fruit topping that will only add calories, sugar and not much of anything else. Opt for natural nut butters, like peanut or almond, which provides protein and good-for-you fats. Not to mention, this slow-digesting spread can decrease digestion of other food, providing sustained energy. Avoid nut butters made with hydrogenated oils, added sugars and preservatives — #deliciousbutdeadly
Avoid Drinking Bottled Juice
Juice can be good and bad. Fresh juice is full of fibre and a great source of natural phytonutrients – vitamins and minerals, but they also provide sugar and a lot of carbs. As much as possible, avoid processed juice brands with sugar, preservatives and additives. Opt for fresh and where possible dilute with water or opt for juice blends to save calories. Juice-vegetable blends are lower in calories and higher in fibre! Drinking just water is also a good option. Water can help improve cognitive function and performance, and get your brain functioning at full capacity for the day ahead. Not to mention it is essential for smooth metabolic functioning and helps aids digestion.
Don’t Do Fancy Coffees
Say no to frappuccinos, mochaccinos, caramel macchiatos and any other fancy coffee shop concoction. Most are mixed with glucose syrups and high fat milk or cream, high in sugar, fat and calories! Although there are now lower fat and lower sugar versions of the same, they still have more calories than just plain coffee. Keep it simple. Go for brewed or espresso. Not a black coffee fan? Try adding low fat milk, unsweetened coconut or almond milk. Sweeten with stevia or natural sweeteners like honey or agave. Top with some cinnamon or unsweetened cocoa for more flavour.
With more than 20 years’ experience designing nutrition products, supplements and meal plans, Lauren is an expert in her field. She has worked with professional rugby and football players, as well as physique and fitness competitors, and holds a degree in nutritional biochemistry, specialising in sports nutrition and supplementation, from Trent University in Canada.
Follow Lauren on Instagram and Facebook: @sexyfitlauren, or read her blog: sexystrongfit.com