Is breakfast your favourite meal of the day or do you regularly skip it?
There’s increasing evidence supporting the impact of breakfast on how you feel each day as well as long term benefits to your health. So how does breakfast impact how we feel each day?
- When you wake up your blood glucose levels are low from your overnight fast. Breakfast provides the fuel your body needs to get your brain and muscles up and running. Without food your body finds another source of glucose to restore blood glucose levels. It achieves this by elevating cortisol which stimulates glucose to be released from your liver and/or your muscle tissue. Essentially skipping breakfast adds a stressor to your body. This is particularly problematic when you already have high cortisol levels, compounding the problem.
Skipping breakfast leads to sugar cravings later in the day. This is in response to low blood glucose levels. Your body craves carbohydrates as a quick source of energy to restore these blood glucose levels.
Breakfast improves concentration levels and memory. This is supported by the many studies showing children who eat breakfast exhibit improved concentration and academic performance compared to children who skip breakfast.
- By skipping breakfast regularly you’re potentially at risk of nutrient deficiencies. Trying to get your recommended daily intake of nutrients is very difficult when you’re limiting this intake to two meals a day.
- A healthy breakfast will lead to better food choices at lunch and then this flows onto better food choices for dinner as well. It simply makes healthy eating that much easier.
Eating breakfast is consistently linked to healthy weight management.
Have a think about how a sumo wrestler puts on weight. Sumo wrestlers have found the quickest way to put on weight is a combination of lots of food over two meals, being lunch and dinner. This ‘sumo’ diet is based on the principle of diet induced thermogenesis being higher in the morning. This means we burn more calories from the food we eat in the morning as compared to later in the day.
It’s not only about how we feel each day but there’s also long term consequences of skipping breakfast regularly.
Skipping breakfast is associated with increased risk of obesity, hypertension, insulin resistance, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
A study by published in the Journal of Nutrition January 2019 found that skipping breakfast once a week is associated with a 6% higher risk of Type 2 Diabetes. The more days a week you skip breakfast the higher the risk. Skipping breakfast four or five times per week increased risk by 55%.
But it’s not just any breakfast. Tea & toast doesn’t cut it!
A healthy breakfast should comprise protein + carbohydrate + healthy fat.
When carbohydrates are eaten with protein and healthy fats, they are digested slowly and glucose enters the bloodstream at a moderate rate over a period of several hours. Eating this way you’ll:
- Avoid snacking between meals.
- Feel fuller for longer.
- Be more energised
- Enjoy improved concentration and focus.
Healthy breakfasts with protein, carbohydrate and healthy fat include:
- Overnight oats or chia pudding topped with yoghurt and nuts
- Vegetable frittata
- Smoked salmon, avocado and spinach on sourdough
- Eggs with sautéed mushrooms and spinach
- Healthy breakfast beans with feta or goat’s cheese
Some people just don’t feel like breakfast. This can be because you’ve eaten too late or your digestion is a bit sluggish.
- Allow 2-3 hours between your last meal and bedtime. That means no late night snacks. This allows digestion to occur before you sleep and will prevent indigestion and heartburn.
- Stimulate digestive enzymes with:
- Lemon juice in water upon waking. Add juice of 1/2 lemon to a large glass of water.
- Apple cider vinegar. Start with a teaspoon in large glass of water. Build up to a tablespoon in a smaller glass of water.
- Smoothie can be easier to digest. Just make sure it contains protein to keep you fuller for longer. Protein sources include collagen, hemp or chia seeds, yoghurt.
(NB. Both lemon juice and apple cider vinegar are acidic and may erode tooth enamel. Make sure to rinse your mouth in water afterwards or drink with a straw)
I hope I’ve inspired you to make breakfast a part of your day every day. If you’d like some healthy breakfast recipes you can download my Breakfast ebook here.
Thank you for sharing my healthy love of food.