What is an ideal breakfast actually? No single solution fits everyone. If you, say, are going to jog for a long time right after breakfast, your morning meal is supposed to be different from that of a desk-bound office worker. And if you are working to drop weight and tend to watch your calorie intake, there are special breakfast rules for you to follow. In this blog I will share ten key breakfast principles that will help boost your energy and stay concentrated for the rest of the day (or at least make it to lunch).
Breakfast preferences obviously depend on our habits and traditions. Thus, a Japanese may well start his day with a miso soup, while a Korean would normally stick to meat-based options. Not everyone will feel like kicking off his morning with a typical English breakfast of fried (scrambled) eggs, bacon and beans. Then, there are those who prefer to just miss out on their morning meals… And that’s what we shall start with.
Don’t skip your breakfast
It is a bad habit to skip breakfast. Scientific studies have demonstrated that people who skip food in the morning are more likely to be fatter than those who tend to eat their breakfast on a daily basis. Also, according to the research, parents who do not bother to develop a breakfast-eating habit in their children place them at a higher risk of obesity in the future.
Don’t rush your meals
This rule is valid for every single meal you have, no exceptions. Food must be chewed thoroughly. Do not use lack of time as an excuse to eat on the run. If it’s a problem for you, just set your alarm for some 5 minutes ahead!
Distracted eating is a bad habit. Avoid scrolling through e-mails, Facebook or news updates on your i-pad or phone. You have a whole day ahead of you to do it. Focus on the food you are eating!
Don’t start your day with sugary foods
Avoid having sugar-containing foods for breakfast. Studies show that the sugar you eat at breakfast will likely leave you craving more sweet things throughout the day. All types of pastry, jams and jellies are known to be rich in sugar. However, the major amount of “hidden” sugar is contained in foods we don’t even consider confectioneries. Like, 1 tablespoon of ketchup brings along about 4 grams of sugar (1 teaspoon). The average amount of sugar in a tub of fruit yoghurt (125 ml) comes up to 11 grams, which makes nearly 3 tablespoons. One cup of a fizzy drink may contain up to 40 grams (about 10 tablespoons) of sugar. Other sugar-rich foods are energy drinks, granola bars, crispy cornflakes and wheat flakes we eat for breakfast.
Yet, cocoa for breakfast is a good choice!
Cocoa products, especially raw cocoa powder and raw chocolate, are particularly rich in flavanols (chemical compounds found in plant foods), which are known to protect our brain function. Recent research has shown that regular cocoa consumption may help slow down brain ageing. In other words, if you consume cocoa on a regular basis, you have higher chances to keep your brain sharp for a good while! The scientists have also noted a significant improvement of cognitive activities in the group that was given high-flavanol cocoa (compared to the treatment group that was assigned to consume the flavanol-free cacao). Besides, it has been proved that high-flavanol cocoa decreases blood pressure and improves cardiovascular function. The highest level of flavanol contained in the cocoa drink used during the study amounted to 1000 mg per serving. Consider that merely 2 teaspoons (12 mg) of raw cocoa powder will provide you with the same amount of flavanols.
Make protein foods part of your breakfast
Proteins are more satiating than carbohydrates and fats. Which means a high-protein breakfast will keep you satiated for a long time. Fat-free cottage cheese is an excellent idea for a morning meal. Other good protein sources can be yoghurt and eggs. Tofu “omelet” and soy yoghurt are the perfect vegan-friendly options.
Don’t forget the carbs!
Carbohydrates are also essential for our breakfast. They are the most efficient fuel for our brain activity and are especially needed to back it up after a night-long “starvation”. You should possibly opt for “slow” carbohydrates. The “slow” ones are those that release glucose at a slower rate keeping your blood glucose (sugar) balanced. Their quick-release counterparts cause sharp spikes in your blood sugar, followed by dips which make you feel weak, sleepy and hungry and cause other similar conditions. The quick-release carbohydrates are white sugar, honey, jam and store-bought pastry and confectioneries. The slow-release ones are those provided by whole-grain cereals and nuts.
8. Add fibre source
First, a reasonable amount of fibre in your breakfast meal will help release glucose into the blood at a slower rate. Besides, fibre enhances satiety. Berries, fruit and vegetables are considered to be the perfect sources of fibre.
Have a cup of coffee
This tip is for coffee-lovers only. Don’t force yourself into drinking it. A growing body of data suggests that habitual moderate coffee consumption (which means a daily intake of 2 to 3 cups) appears to have neutral to beneficial impact on heart (reducing the risks of coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, arrhythmias and stroke). Moreover, large epidemiological studies suggest that regular coffee drinkers have reduced risks of all-cause mortality. The potential benefits of regular coffee comsumption also include protection against neurodegenerative diseases, improved asthma control, and lower risk of select gastrointestinal diseases. So, enjoy your coffee and stay healthy!
Enjoy your meal
Not only should your breakfast be good for your health, but it also has to taste good. Do not force yourself into eating something you hate or just do not particularly enjoy.
Healthy breakfast ideas
So, what is considered a healthy breakfast? Let’s sum up what has been said before: a good breakfast provides long-term satiety (without causing a heavy feeling in your stomach), it is sugar-free and it fuels your body with (slow-burning) carbohydrates. Here are some ideas for a well-balanced breakfast:
- Porridge with berries, (dried) fruit, nuts. For example, steel-cut oatmeal with and blueberries.
- Fat-free or low-fat cottage cheese with nuts and fruit, or, if you like, with veggies and seeds.
- Low-fat milk or soy yoghurt with fruit, berries and nuts.
- Fried (scrambled) eggs with vegetables accompanied with a slice of healthy bread, like the oat one.
- Pancakes made with healthy ingredients, such as whole-grain cereals, fruit, eggs. For example, oatmeal pancakes.