It seems everyone has a theory on the best way to start your day and there’s countless options out there, so how do you choose the best? Some camps talk about complex carbs for the best start to your day (think wholegrains and starchy vegetables), others talk about low-carb, whilst some are all about getting your morning protein.
The argument to include balanced macronutrients at breakfast time; so carbohydrates, protein and fat; is a sound one and comes from the underlying concept of human nutrition that consuming all macros in a meal allows for higher levels of meal satiation and better foundational nutrient properties. Though is it required?
We do know for instance that meals higher in protein and fat stimulate the release of a hormone from the small intestine called cholecystokinin (CKK), which plays a role in initiating feeling satisfied sooner rather than later and hence, not overeating .
Research has shown that high fat breakfasts particularly, elevate CCK levels in the blood and hence produce greater feelings of satiety in subjects .
This extended to having less of a desire to eat and reduced overall consumption, in short – fat is filling. Fat has been found to suppress ghrelin ; an appetite stimulating hormone; so again, we have fat helping us to fill up and feel satisfied. Dietary fibre (think: oats, barley, legumes, onion, psyllium and fruit), also helps to suppress ghrelin and is a well-established and under-utilised source of ‘food’ for our good gut bacteria, supports digestive health whilst also helping us feel fuller for longer.
Balanced, whole and quality sources of dietary fat include organic eggs, avocado, extra virgin olive oil, nuts such as walnuts, seeds such as chia and oily fish.
We’re not talking about fast-food type fat here.
For a better breakfast, look to fill up your plate with quality fats and fibre such as those listed above, protein such as eggs, animal meat, yoghurt, chia or wholegrains and carbohydrates including fresh fruit, vegetables (of all colours!), wholegrains, nuts, seeds and legumes.
Quality fats include organic eggs, avocado, extra virgin olive oil, nuts such as walnuts, seeds such as chia and oily fish
Protein includes eggs, animal meat, yoghurt, chia or wholegrains
Carbohydrates includes fresh fruit, vegetables (of all colours!), wholegrains, nuts, seeds and legumes
And regardless of where you sit, what we can all agree on is to limit the amount of added sugars to your breakfast – let natural sugars shine if you so choose – and allow your blood sugar levels to be balanced and support your best possible day.
It’s this reason that processed, off-the-shelf cereals are the less than ideal option to start your day with.
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IS BREAKFAST AN ABSOLUTE MUST?
Consuming breakfast has shown to support weight management, healthy blood sugar levels, cognition and better overall nutrition.
Whilst there is emerging evidence on the value of fasting longer than the traditional overnight hours and therefore entering a state of starvation, this is not the advisable path for the general population. Long-term safety has not yet been established and a US study looking at 2132 adult subjects  found that the overall energy intake in a day of those who skip breakfast was the same of those who consumed breakfast. What was missing in the former group however, was adequate intake of key fibre, wholegrains and fruit throughout the day.
For anyone interested in intermittent fasting, I’d advise to listen to your body and seek professional guidance to understand exactly what you’re undertaking. Consuming a balanced breakfast that works for you will promote satiation and optimal function in opposition to blood sugar highs and lows, along with the inevitable over-eating that your body will send signals to act on.
As with everything we eat, this is all highly subjective to what best suits us and the way to figure that out is with experimentation. Try out a few ideas and if need be, or for any underlying health conditions, it’s always best to seek personalised advice.
Lucky for you, you can book in to see me for exactly that.
I’m now taking Nutrition consults and can help you with a myriad of things including:
If you’d like to check my availability, the details can be found here.
In the meantime, this pancake recipe is, as the title indicates, made from just 4 ingredients. It uses no flour, or grain and due to the natural and balanced macronutrient profile, will see you totally satisfied from such a simple and delicious breakfast! These pancakes don’t need to be kept for special occasions. They’re an always-good kind of brekkie option and I hope you love them!
- 1 large banana
- 3 eggs
- ¼ cup dessicated coconut
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Olive oil, to cook
- Berries and maple syrup, to serve
- Peel the banana and mash with a fork
- Crack eggs into a large bowl, whisk and mix in with the bananas
- Add remaining ingredients and stir well to combine
- Heat oil in a frying pan on medium heat
- Spoon small portions of the mixture into the pan
- Once a spatula can go cleanly underneath the pancake (and it looks golden underneath), flip it over
- Once both sides are golden brown, remove from the heat
- Repeat until mixture has all been cooked and you could keep in a warm oven in the meantime
- Serve and enjoy
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Kopelman, P, Caterson, I, Dietz W 2009, Clinical Obesity in Adults and Children, 3rd edn, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK.
Levitsky, D, Pacanowski, C 2013, ‘Effect of skipping breakfast on subsequent energy intake’, Physiology & Behaviour, vol. 119, pp. 9-16, viewed 31 July 2017, <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2486322/pdf/CDI-11-195.pdf>.