Updated: Aug 25, 2020
The breakfast of champions doesn't come out of a box, a sachet or a toaster.
After you wake up, your body is in a fasted state and ready for nutrients. That first meal sends information to your body in the form of nutrients that affects the way that you think and feel for the rest of the day. It’s the ideal time to eat a meal that makes you feel alert and energised, not one that leads to sugar cravings at 10.30 am, brain fog at 3.30 pm and a roller coaster of energy boosts and crashes, day after day.
An excellent first meal of the day will:
Supply essential nutrients to your body.
Promote sustained energy for the day.
Boost mental clarity to support your busy schedule.
If applicable to you, support your body composition goals.
Three tips for a breakfast of champions
1. Eat breakfast at the same time each day
Consistently eating around the same time trains the body to anticipate food so that it's ready to process it. If you eat earlier than normal, the body has to cut its usual cleaning activities short. If you're trying to reset your breakfast time, realise that it may take your gut about 3 to 4 days to catch up and reconfigure.
2. Emphasise protein, fats and fibre
A breakfast rich in protein, fats and fibre increases satiety, helps to stabilise blood sugar and reduces hunger later on. You’ll side step that mid morning slump that tends to follow a meal that is high in mostly carbohydrates, especially the fast acting carbohydrates in ultra processed foods. I've found that eating a high protein and fat breakfast sets me up for better metabolic flexibility for the remainder of the day, making it easier for me to transfer from one fuel source to the other.
You can nudge your nutrients little by little in a series of simple steps, not one sudden and radical shift that isn't practical or sustainable.
Bacon and eggs
Steak and eggs
Steak and nuts
Pan fried mince and almonds
Chipolata sausage and sauerkraut
Salmon and avocado
Feta, mushroom and avocado
Yoghurt, berries and seeds
Salmon and avocado
Add a side of sauteed vegetables (eg, tomato, onion, mushroom, spinach)
3. Focus on food choices
Small, sustainable changes are better than huge, unrealistic ones. You could simply adjust your meal to include more foods that are rich in fats and proteins and less foods that are rich in carbohydrates. Eg, add a couple of eggs to your toast, and skip the jam. And remember, not all carbs are equal. The kind of carbs you eat in the morning and the composition of your meal matters because it affects the speed that glucose enters your blood stream and the amount of insulin your pancreas needs to release to clear it. A steady supply of glucose and a small and controlled insulin rise from fried eggs on a single piece of toast is a far cry from a sugar and insulin shock to the system from 2 slices of bread, a dollop of jam or honey and a glass of fruit juice.
Your morning meal influences your circadian rhythms
Did you know that your morning meal matters because food is one of nature's alarm clocks? It helps to synchronise the body's 24 hour circadian rhythms and keep us functioning on schedule. Eating breakfast is an opportunity to reset and promote your natural daily hormonal rhythms, and certain foods are better suited to that. For example, eating a breakfast high in simple carbohydrates has a suppressing effect on cortisol, the hormone that gets us up and going in the morning. If your sleep isn’t great and you’re under stress (that’s a lot of us!), then a high carb breakfast of oats, toast or cereal might not be your friend. Eating in the morning helps to get your bowels moving, too. Digestion triggers the muscles in the large intestines to contract and move things along to make room for the food you have just eaten. Skipping breakfast can bypass this reflex. If your body is out of sync and your belly isn't happy, your morning meal could be the prompt that your body needs to get going.