Why is breakfast important? It is called ‘the most important meal of the day’, and as the name suggests, breakfast breaks the overnight fasting period. It replenishes our supply of glucose to boost our energy levels and alertness, while also providing other essential nutrients required for good health.
Evidence based studies have shown the health benefits of eating breakfast. It improves the energy levels and ability to concentrate in short term, and can help with better weight management, reduced risk of many diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease in long term. Despite the health and wellbeing benefits of breakfast, many people often skip it, for many reasons.
Skipping breakfast may seem like a good way to reduce overall energy intake. But research showed that even with a higher intake of energy, breakfast eaters tend to be more physically active in the morning than those who don’t eat until later in the day.
The good news is there are plenty of ways to make it easier to fit breakfast into our day.
Can’t face food in the morning?
Some people find they just can’t tolerate food first thing in the morning either because they have their last meal of the day quite late at night or they don’t find typical breakfast foods appealing, or because food first thing in the morning turns their stomach.
To make it easier, we should try to reduce the size of the meals in the evening and eat them earlier, so we are hungry in the morning.
Investigating some new recipes and stocking our cupboards with some different types of foods to increase our breakfast appetite.
Stopping switching our breakfast to morning tea or mid-morning snack time.
Breakfast ideas for meat eaters
Balanced breakfast using foods from three different food groups (Proteins, Fibers, Fat). It can be a slice of whole wheat toast with peanut butter and a glass of milk, or yogurt with fruit and granola, or an egg scrambled with leftover veggies and cheese.
Keep it simple! A banana, yogurt and oat are an easy way to get nutrients, and they can be packed the night before if time is a challenge. Peanut butter and banana sandwich is another simple low-cost meal that can be prepared in minutes. Breakfast doesn’t have to be complicated.
Sliced turkey is low in fat, low in calories, and high in protein. This makes it an ideal option for anyone attempting to increase muscle growth while limiting calories. Turkey bacon is also a good and lean substitute for traditional bacon. It can be eaten along with vegetables, whole wheat bread and avocado.
Salmon, for healthy fat. It is high in omega-3 fatty acids, packed with protein, source of B vitamins, filled with selenium, and may reduce the risk of heart disease. Eat salmon with sliced avocado, lemon juice, onions, and asparagus in whole wheat bread.
Breakfast ideas for vegetarians
Greek yogurt along with berries and nuts is very popular nowadays. You can add any of the nuts that you like; walnuts, almonds, cashews, chia seeds, or flax seeds. Fresh berries, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, or blackberries can also be added.
A high antioxidant green smoothie from mainly spinach, almond or cashew milk, and berries can be an option. Some seeds can be added such as chia seeds or flax seeds. Ice cubes will be a good component to become a fresher.
Oatmeal is rich in fibers, brings down the glycemic index, and satisfies our craving for carbs. Add milk or yogurt, berries, nuts, and fresh fruits for flavour. Cinnamon powder can be also added to give it a distinct flavour and enhance the taste as well as benefiting from its high antioxidants’ constitution, its protection against diseases, ageing and inflammation.
Almond butter, banana, yogurt and cinnamon powder is also a healthy option; It provides the body with amounts of fibers, potassium, carbs, and Vitamin B6, which acts as a stress buster. Cinnamon adds to the sweetness and maintains blood sugar level.
Breakfast ideas for vegans
A vegan breakfast contains all the same nutrients you would find in a dairy, or meat-based breakfast.
Think whole foods! Avocados and nuts are good sources of healthy fats. Whole grains are great for fibers and slow-release energy. Beans and tofu are excellent sources of protein. Walnuts and flaxseed are perfect additions for omega 3.
Oats with nuts and fruits, vegan pancakes with soy yoghurt, banana and berries; and scrambled tofu on whole grain toast are healthy options.
Mango and greens (spinach or kale) smoothie is great especially for post workout refuelling. Adding coconut water must be very energizing, as well as some healthy fats like avocado, nuts, almond or peanut butter. It is considered as a nutrient packed breakfast.
(Juliana Habchi, Health & Wellness Advisor and Nutritionist at Zulal Wellness Resort by Chiva-Som, Qatar)