Thursday, 2 October 2014

The breakfast myth

Source: Flickr
Most people believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but then why are breakfast foods generically unhealthy? Whether you're devouring a plate full of bacon, eggs, and white bread; or breakfast cereal full of sugar, the foods that are commonly considered appropriate for breakfast are simply unhealthy and not fit to be served for such an important meal.


Why is breakfast so important?


Breakfast is important because it is the first meal of anyone's day. Prior to the consumption of breakfast, your body has been sleeping and was deprived of nutrients for several hours. The moment directly after you wake up is the moment where your body really needs a good supply of nutrients to prepare it for the day and allow you to perform at your optimum capacity.

Fatty processed breakfast foods don't really constitute high quality nutrition here. In fact, they aren't even very good to eat at any point during the day. Eating them for breakfast is simply the coup de grĂ¢ce that really shows just how out of touch society is these days. In a world where the main ingredients to all our foods consist of sugar, trans fats, huge amounts of salt, and low quality protein, this isn't all that surprising at all.

Source: Flickr

Protein for breakfast





Protein is one of the most important nutrients that your body absolutely needs after awakening from an extended period of sleep. Because your body repairs and maintains itself during sleep, a lot of your amino acid reserves will be used to fuel these changes and when you wake up, you need to replenish your protein.

This doesn't meant that you should chow down on a slab of bacon though. As tasty as bacon is, bacon is full of sodium from the salt used in the curing process. This salt is part of the appeal of bacon, but it's also a terrible choice for breakfast. From the moment you finish eating a salt laden plate of breakfast goodies, you're guaranteeing that you'll feel bloated and sluggish all day. If you have blood pressure problems or issues with water retention, the excess salt is even more problematic and will really ruin your day. Ditch the bacon at breakfast time, or at least use it as an ingredient for other more wholesome foods like an omelette.

Eggs are a lot more benign in regards to breakfast. It's really the method of cooking that helps eggs improve your day or wreck it. Sure, eggs themselves contain a modest amount of fat and cholesterol, but this is small in comparison to the sheer amount of fat that can be found in sausages and hash browns. In contrast, eggs offer a healthier source of high quality protein. Feel free to eat eggs for breakfast, as long as they're not garnish for a pile of sausages and 7 slices of bacon.

To really kick off your day the right way and boost up your protein reserves, start the day with a whey protein shake made with light milk or skim milk. This is an easy way to add 20 - 30 grams of quality protein to your diet without taking in excess calories or fat.

  • The benefits of whey protein
    Want to know more about how whey protein can benefit your health? Discover the many benefits of whey protein, how much to take, and how to take it for the best results.

Source: Flickr


Healthy carbohydrates


Source: Flickr
A potato is a carbohydrate, but it's not a very good one. In fact, the average potato has a GI higher than that of table sugar. This means that the carbohydrates in your hash brown are converted into glucose faster even than sugar is. That's an easy way to create a blood sugar spike and you'll feel drained in an hour or two when you crash.

Instead of hash browns or white bread, which are high GI carbohydrates and severely lacking in nutrients, switch to whole grain where possible. Rye bread is a good example of a tasty yet low GI bread. Add in some fresh salad ingredients, a slice of fresh cheese, and some lean chicken breast or tuna and you have a meal that is not only high in vitamins and minerals, but will give you sustained energy to help you make it to lunch without crashing or snacking on junk food.


Vitamins and minerals


Breakfast is also the perfect time to get a good dose of vitamins and minerals. The group of vitamins known as B vitamins are especially important early in the day as they promote energy production and help you to perform at your best. Where possible, consume foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals early on in the day to give you a boost through to the evening.

If you take a multivitamin and mineral supplement, this is the perfect time to take it, right after a healthy breakfast. This replenishes the amounts of vitamins and minerals that your body has used throughout the night and will have more benefit than if you take your supplement later in the day.


Healthy drinks for breakfast


It's common for people to drink orange juice, coffee, or hot chocolate for breakfast. Some people even drink a milkshake. It's far less common for someone to drink a glass of soft drink however, but that is basically what is occurring here in many cases.

Common sense says that orange juice or another form of breakfast juice is a healthy way to start the day, but if you're drinking reconstituted juice, chances are you're consuming just as much sugar as you would if you drank a can of coke instead. The only advantage here is the vitamin C in the juice. 





Then you have fortified breakfast juice, which contains a few different vitamins and minerals that have been added. This is better than drinking the orange juice, but overall this kind of fortification doesn't detract from what it really is, a glass of sugar. You might as well take a multivitamin supplement and ditch the sugar entirely.

This isn't to say that any of these beverages are bad for you, or that you shouldn't drink them at all, it's just strange to believe people are ridiculed and considered unhealthy for drinking a can of coca cola in the morning, but those same people who are deriding them are gulping down juices that contain just as much sugar and little additional nutrition. 

Breakfast is meant to supercharge your body, so the drink you consume with breakfast should be high in vitamins and minerals, lower in sugar, and preferably, low GI to give you sustained energy and help you survive the beginning of your day. 

Try to consume freshly squeezed juice wherever possible, or better still, a smoothie made with Greek yogurt and lots of fruit and vegetable ingredients. Alternatively, a whey protein shake, as mentioned earlier in the article, is low in sugar, low GI, and contains a lot of healthy protein. Either of these drinks are great for breakfast and will benefit your body throughout the day. If you do drink coffee, try to decrease the amount of sugar you use, ditch the cream, and use light milk instead of full cream.

Source: Flickr

Breakfast on a diet


If you're on a diet and trying to lose weight, breakfast is still important and you shouldn't be cutting down at this point in the day. Studies show time and time again that those who eat breakfast tend to be able to maintain their weight far more easily than those who do not. Consequently, when people skip breakfast, they have a higher chance of becoming overweight.

Although you may be keen to skip breakfast in an attempt to cut down on calories, it's probably not the best idea. Rather, breakfast should be the largest meal of the day, rather than dinner. By the time you reach dinner, you're winding down for the day and will go to bed not too long after. It makes no sense to eat huge amounts of calories at dinner because you won't use the energy and it will be more likely it is stored as fat.

That's why it may be better to swap these meals around, eating a breakfast that is more nutritionally dense, and a dinner that is light. If you're on a diet, this will give you the energy you need to get through the day, complete all your exercise, and lose more weight. Better still is that this energy will be used during the day instead of being stored away as fat.

Source: Flickr

Breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day, and it makes sense that you would choose healthy foods instead of the usual breakfast fare. This isn't to say that any of the traditional breakfast foods are necessarily bad, but when you want the best start to your day, they simply have no place on the breakfast plate. Save them for later in the day after you've already nourished your body and given it the fuel it craves and deserves.


Find out more


  • Green tea and weight loss
    Green tea is one of the easiest ways to increase weight loss and improve your health in many other ways. You can incorporate green tea into breakfast by adding it to a smoothie or drinking a cup of green tea instead of coffee or juice.
  • Blueberries - a tasty superfoodBlueberries have been found to help prevent weight gain. They're also extremely good for your body for several other reasons. By adding blueberries to your diet, you can reap the rewards and find a healthier you.
  • 5 Weight loss tips
    Struggling to lose weight, even though you're maintaining a strict diet and exercising regularly? Make sure you're not making simple mistakes by following these 5 easy weight loss tips to supercharge your diet plan.

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