Breakfast is one of those things that you either love or you loathe. Some people can’t function without a hearty meal first thing in the morning, while others can’t stomach eating anything until lunchtime.
Whatever your breakfast preference, one thing we’re still trying to figure out is what exactly should we be eating for breakfast? As lofty as our ambitions may be to whip up avocado and eggs on toast each morning, the reality tends to be picking up a pastry from Pret along with our morning coffee – but this is probably the worst thing we could be doing.
“Consuming high sugar foods such as pastries and high sugar breakfast cereals or high sugar yoghurts aren’t ideal for breakfast as they can spike blood glucose levels, leaving you feeling hungrier faster,” registered nutritionist and the author of How To Stay Healthy, Jenna Hope tells GLAMOUR.
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So, what should you be eating? Hope says to aim for high protein, high fibre foods with one or two sources of fruit and vegetables. Still not sure? Read our guide below.
Why is breakfast so important?
Breakfast is touted as the most important meal of the day for a reason: it can improve everything from cognitive (i.e. brain) function, increase energy levels, better your blood sugar control, and improve your digestive health.
“It’s important to listen to your appetite signals as to when to consume your first meal,” Hope explains. “The key factor is if you’re feeling hungry or low on energy it’s important you eat. Additionally, the first meal of the day should be packed with protein and fibre to help keep you fuller for longer and to manage blood glucose levels.”
What are the worst foods to eat at breakfast?
In general, the worst foods you can have for breakfast are high in sugar and low in fibre and protein. This is because they won’t keep you full until lunchtime, explains Lara Buckle of The Wellness Detective. Some of these foods include:
- Sugary cereals: “Many breakfast cereals are high in added sugars, which can contribute to weight gain, increased blood sugar levels, and energy crashes later in the day,” Buckle explains.
- Pastries: “Pastries like croissants can be high in refined carbohydrates and added sugars. They may provide a quick energy boost, but it’s often short-lived, leading to hunger and cravings later.”
- Processed meats: “Bacon, sausages, and other processed meats are high in saturated fats and can contain additives and preservatives. Consuming these regularly may contribute to heart disease and other health issues.”
- Coffee or tea with sugar: “Breakfast beverages loaded with sugar and syrups, such as flavoured lattes or sweetened iced coffees, can contribute to excessive calorie intake and sugar spikes.”
- Fruit juices: “While whole fruits are generally a healthy choice, fruit juices can be high in sugars and lack the fibre found in whole fruits.”
- Low fibre breakfast bars: “Some breakfast bars are marketed as healthy but can be high in added sugars and low in fibre.”
- Flavoured yoghurts: “Flavoured yoghurts often contain added sugars and artificial flavours.”
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What are the best foods to eat at breakfast?
Buckled explains that a well balanced breakfast includes a mix of macronutrients – carbs, protein and healthy fats – as well as vitamins and minerals. Some examples include:
- Oats: “Oats are rich in soluble fibre, which helps in maintaining stable blood sugar levels and keeping you fuller for longer. They also provide complex carbohydrates for sustained energy.”
- Greek yoghurt: “Greek yoghurt is high in protein, which helps in muscle repair and satiety. It also contains probiotics, promoting gut health, and calcium for bone health.”
- Eggs: “Eggs are a great source of high-quality protein and essential nutrients like choline. They can help keep you full and provide sustained energy throughout the morning.”
- Berries: “Blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and fibre. They add natural sweetness and contribute to overall health.”
- Nuts and seeds: “Almonds, chia seeds, flaxseeds are good sources of healthy fats, protein, and fibre.”
- Avocado: “Avocados are a nutrient-dense food rich in monounsaturated fats, which are heart-healthy. It also provides fibre and various vitamins and minerals.
- Smoothies: “A well balanced smoothie with fruits, vegetables, Greek yoghurt, and a source of healthy fats (like nut butter or avocado) can provide a quick and convenient breakfast with a variety of nutrients.”
Should you eat the same breakfast every day?
Another factor when it comes to what you have for breakfast each day if how much time you actually have to prepare said breakfast. While working from home may mean you can cook up an omelette, sometimes you just need something to grab and go like overnight oats – and it’s totally OK to eat the same thing for breakfast every day.
“Eating the same breakfast every day can be perfectly fine if it’s a nutritious and balanced meal that meets your dietary needs,” Buckle explains. “Consistency can make it easier to establish healthy eating habits and maintain a routine.”
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However, she adds that diversifying your breakfast can help to bolster your nutrient intake, and prevent breakfast boredom.
“It’s essential to prioritise nutrient-rich options, including a mix of proteins, healthy fats, fibre, and carbohydrates,” she adds. “If you enjoy the simplicity and convenience of a particular breakfast but want to ensure you’re getting a variety of nutrients, consider making small changes or additions to your meal over time (such as switching up the toppings on your oats). Ultimately, the key is to find a balance that works for you, considering your nutritional needs, preferences, and lifestyle.”
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