Breakfast is a meal lots of people struggle with – either not having it at all, or making choices which they think are healthy but which could actually be derailing their progress. Here are a few of the common brekkie mistakes and ways to fix them.
#1 Not eating enough food
It’s a lot easier to stick to your diet early in the day so for many people breakfast becomes a meal they scrimp on thinking it will set them up to be “good” for the rest of the day. In actual fact this is doing more harm than good. On average people eat around 265 kcals for breakfast. For most people this is simply not enough. You should be aiming to get a quarter to a third of your daily calories in at breakfast. So even those on a low calorie goal (for whatever reason) should be getting a minimum of 300 calories in for breakfast.
Why is this so important? It sets you up for the day, makes it less likely that you’ll crash later and crave unhealthy options and lunchtime and will also help stop that mid morning snack attack. Studies have also shown that having a proper breakfast increases concentration and productivity and work or school.
#2 Too many carbs, not enough “good” fat and protein
The majority of go-to breakfast options are quite carb heavy – toast, cereal, croissants etc. On average people tend to have breakfasts which contain up to 65% carb and these are often high in saturated fat too. Ideally you want to drop this down and go for closer to 40 – 50% carb, 20 – 25 % and 30 – 35% protein. If you’re tracking calories in something like myfitnesspal it will break this down for you but if you’re not don’t worry – some simple changes will help. Avoid the pastries – no more croissants, pain au chocolat or cinnamon danishes for starters. If you’re more of a toast-kinda person then try to ditch plain toast and marmite (I know, I know – I love marmite too!) and instead add some “good” fat and protein to your toast – so have it with nut butter, or avocado or how about adding some eggs! Make sure that if you’re going for toast you choose bread that’s as high in fibre as possible, so go for the wholegrain breads or better yet a sourdough or rye bread. If you’re having cereal then consider less cereal and having it with yoghurt, nuts and seeds instead. If you’re a porridge person reduce the oats and add some seeds or stir in some nut butter as you make it. By adding fat and protein to your carbs you will stay fuller for longer too – and it will taste great!
#3 Too much sugar
Many of the go to breakfast cereals that you think are healthy are actually loaded with sugar. So I’m not talking all the obvious culprits – yes we know things like Frosties and Cocoa Pops are a sugar mountain, but what about Special K, Bran Flakes, Fruit and Fibre…. have you stopped to look at the actual amount of sugar in your favourite “healthy” cereal. If you are going to eat cereal just be mindful of all this and take a look at the packet – instead of the fruit and fibre go for a lower sugar bran flake and add your own nuts and seeds for example. When it comes to spreads on your toast instead of having traditional jam on your toast, have some nut butter or make your own chia jam instead (added sugar free – recipe here!).
Smoothies and juices are all the rage for brekkie – I swear by mine every day, but if you’re loading your smoothie with fruits you’re probably overloading on sugar. So switch out the fruit for veggies and make sure you up the protein with nuts or nut butter and add some extra protein with a good quality protein powder. My favourite protein powder is the Pure Form Fitness Vanilla one (available here) and here is a great recipe for The Ultimate Breakfast Smoothie
So there you go – have a little think about your own breakfast – what changes can you make?
Here’s a quick cheat sheet:
Porridge lovers: add a nut butter or chia seeds when you cook it, and make with milk instead of water (almond milk, coconut milk etc) and add a little banana.
OR make a quinoa porridge instead – it’s higher in protein and will keep you full for longer (see recipe here)
Toast lovers: Load your toast with nut butter or smoosh some avocado and seasoning on top. Or some chia jam!
OR add eggs to your toast – scramble with a little milk and herbs, or dry fry in a nonstick pan, or poached/boiled!
Cereal lovers: switch your cereal for something lower in sugar and add nuts or seeds.
OR Have some yoghurt and then sprinkle a little of the cereal on the top
Smoothie lovers: Ditch the high sugar fruits and add in some spinach (trust me you won’t taste it), nuts or nut butter and use an alternative milk (almond, coconut, soya etc)
Please remember, I am not a medical Dr and even if I was the medical and/or nutritional information on this site is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your GP or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read on this site.