We’ve all heard that ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’, but how many of us opt to grab a slice of toast on the way out the door or skip it all together? Isn’t it time we ensured that we’re having a nutritious start to the day? Here, Jenna Farmer discusses how to supercharge your breakfast in 10 simple steps…
It’s been reported that nearly a third of us skip breakfast, and a recent survey by Rowse Honey found that 84% of us have felt our usual breakfast choices are boring. For some, there simply isn’t time between the school run and commute to cook a healthy breakfast, while for others, hunger doesn’t kick in until much later in the day.
Whatever our reason is for missing this meal, the truth is breakfast is important: studies have shown that skipping breakfast can increase your risk of heart disease and diabetes. It’s not all about what you eat either; taking time to enjoy your breakfast and setting up a healthy morning routine is equally important.
“Breakfast is important as it is the first meal of the day. In essence one is ‘breaking the fast’ after a night of sleep,” explains nutritional therapist Sonal Shah. “It really does refuel the body.”
If you don’t have time to batch cook oats, whizz up a fresh frittata, or start your morning off with a 10K run, don’t despair. Here are 10 quick and easy ways to supercharge your breakfast, and get your day off to the best start.
1. Don’t reach for the caffeine straight away.
Most of us roll out of bed and pop the kettle on as soon as we wake up, but research has shown it’s best to drink your coffee after breakfast rather than before it. The study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that drinking coffee before eating increased the blood glucose response to breakfast by 50%. Instead, you could either swap your morning coffee for a herbal brew, or make sure you’ve eaten something substantial before reaching for that caffeine.
2. Don’t put it off until mid-morning.
While some of us don’t feel hungry when we wake up, Sonal Shah advises not waiting too long before you tuck in. “My personal and professional opinion is to have breakfast within one hour of waking if possible, and to make sure it is nutrient-dense and substantial. This is because it will keep one fuller for longer and also prevents overeating later in the day.”
3. Make simple swaps.
Most of us can make healthier changes with a few simple swaps. Start with your morning juice and toast; could you swap your regular OJ for a fresh veggie juice, or one packed with multivitamins – such as the Benefit Juice range (Waitrose, £2.80) which provides 50% reference daily intake of 12 key vitamins? There’s no reason you can’t tuck into toast, but you could swap the bread to wholemeal for a fibre-fix, and add peanut butter and chopped banana for a dose of healthy fats and potassium.
4. Pack a protein punch.
Studies have shown that those who ate a high protein breakfast had more energy throughout the day. Protein can be found in breakfast staples, from cottage cheese to greek yoghurt.
“If you include wholefood proteins such as nuts, seeds, eggs, dairy yoghurt, fish or meat at breakfast, you do not need to add a protein powder to breakfast,” explains Nutritionist Resource member Kate Dimmer.
Of course, if you tend to grab a smoothie each morning, then a scoop of protein powder might be a useful addition. Either way, adding some protein to your breakfast will ensure you feel fuller for longer, and get your day off to a great start.
5. Look for natural nootropics.
Another way to supercharge your breakfast is to look for a herbal tea that includes nootropics – a natural substance that’s proven to boost brain function. Try a tea such as Theenk Tea’s ‘Morning Glory’ blend (£12.99, theenk-tea.com); which also includes rosemary and ginkgo biloba.
6. Don’t forget to breathe.
“Just two minutes a day can help maintain good mental health, and the best time to do it is first thing,” explains hypnotherapist Geraldine Joaquim. “Focus on long slow deep breaths. You can rest your hands to feel your body moving with each breath: one hand on your stomach and one on your heart. Aim for six to 10 breaths per minute.”
7. Spend five minutes journaling.
Another way to supercharge your morning without changing what’s on your plate is by incorporating journaling. It’s far more than just a notebook, as studies have shown that journaling can help with everything from your immune system to your self-confidence. You can use a journal to write your action plan, for setting intentions, or keeping track of things you’re grateful for.
8. Bulk buy breakfast bits so you don’t run out.
Bulk buy, or even set up recurring subscriptions for your favourite breakfast goodies, to ensure you never run out. You could try My Breakfast Box (mybreakfastbox.co.uk) which gives you the option to subscribe monthly to receive breakfast blends that can be used for overnight oats. Alternatively, there’s the Squirrel Sisters Breakfast Box (squirrelsisters.com, £30) which includes on-the-go snack bars for breakfast in a hurry, muesli and porridge oats, and a range of breakfast toppers.
9. Opt to for a low GI breakfast.
Glycemic index represents the rise in blood sugar after eating certain foods. What’s worth noting is that many breakfast foods (such as white bread toast and sugar-packed cereals) are high in GI. However, research suggests that aiming for a low glycemic index brekkie could have its benefits if you find yourself snacking mid-morning. Examples of low GI breakfasts include rolled or steel cut oats, apples, yoghurt, eggs, and beans.
10. Make your own juice.
“It’s better to make [juices] homemade or get them delivered cold press, than buying them ready-made as the nutrient level will be lower in supermarket ones,” explains nutritional therapist Sonal Shah.
But it’s important to remember that fruit juice is high in sugar. “If you do enjoy juices and smoothies, stick to a small glass no more than once daily,” explains Kate Dimmer.
There’s no doubt that prioritising breakfast is a great way to support your overall wellbeing, so get involved to get your day off to the best possible start.
For more nutritional information and support, visit nutritionist-resource.org.uk