What makes a 'good' breakfast a ‘gooooood’ breakfast?
Well, sausage, bacon, egg, fried potatoes, fried bread and beans (as delicious as it may be), does NOT hit the mark! Granted the macronutrients i.e. protein, carbohydrate and fat are all present and correct in the traditional ‘Full English Breakfast’, but this is NOT a balanced and health promoting breakfast to go for. The protein content of a fry up is one of the only good points it has (except for the tomato maybe), the manner in which it’s cooked detracts from the nutritional value of the protein, as well as sausages and bacon being very high in salt and fat (even if you grill them)! Frying is bad for a number of reasons, it saturates the foods in fat and can even make the fat more damaging than it was before because of the very high temperatures used when frying. A fried egg is an exception to this rule provided it’s shallow fried and not immersed in oil. An egg is one of the most nutritious single sources of food you can get, delivering all of the most important amino acids (building blocks of protein and muscle), particularly Leucine…a key Branched Chain Amino Acid (BCAA) needed for muscle growth and development.
So what’s an ideal breakfast?
The general idea is this…take elements from what we like to eat, and adjust it so that it fits the criteria of what’s right to eat. So as you might find in a fry up, an ideal breakfast would include a carbohydrate source, protein source and a fruit and/or veg option for optimal nutritional balance. Although meats are one of the best sources of protein, dairy (milk, cheese and yoghurt) is also a great option meaning a variety of other breakfasts are also available to you. An ideal breakfast will help to gradually increase your blood sugar levels after your 6-8 hour overnight fast (no eating), as well as replenishing your muscles with protein.
To give you some direction, see these breakfast ideas below:
Porridge with semi-skimmed milk (200 calories; 13g protein; 35g carbohydrate)
The oats in porridge are digested slowly meaning the glucose (sugar) released from them enters the blood stream gradually, giving you a constant flow of energy over the morning.
The milk used in porridge provides many important proteins as well as some natural sugar called lactose. A teaspoon of honey or some chopped fruit will make the porridge sweeter, as well as helping to increase energy levels further.
x2 Weetabix & half a chopped banana (200kcal; 8g protein; 45g carbohydrate)
Commercial cereals aren’t always the best option for breakfast because many are high in sugar, whilst being low in nutrition. However, wholegrain cereals are a much better option because of their slower release (wholegrains take more digesting meaning they release into the blood more slowly) and lower sugar content. The slower rate of digestion makes you feel fuller for longer too. Milk will provide the protein source needed, and a chopped banana will act as a natural sweetener and faster releasing energy for nutritional completeness.
Scrambled egg on granary toast (130 – 200 calories (1- 2 eggs); 6-12g protein; 16g carbohydrate)
A single slice of bread will suffice here, and 1-2 eggs is adequate for a balanced breakfast. The wholegrain bread means the carbohydrate provides energy gradually over the morning (white bread is released a lot quicker, meaning energy can run out by mid-morning), and the egg delivers all the important amino acids (muscle building blocks) to feed your muscles ready for the day!
2 egg omelette with potato & veg (350 calories; 16g protein; 30g carbohydrate)
Many will have heard this more commonly referred to as a Spanish omelette, the addition of potato means there is a starch source for energy, and the addition of veg will deliver an array of vitamins and minerals, as well as helping to slow the release of the carbohydrate from the potato helping you feel fuller and energised for longer.
Wholegrain bagel with peanut butter (300 calories; 12g protein; 41g carbohydrate)
A bagel is a great source of protein and carbohydrate, with an average bagel delivering 10g of protein and up to 40g of carbs. That’s about the same protein as you’d get from half a chicken breast, and 40x the carbohydrate! Add a little peanut butter to a toasted bagel and get some essential fats and some extra protein too.