Most of us wake up still a little sleepy and tired, but we want our bodies to jump right into a hectic day and give us endless energy and top mental and physical performance. Caffeine and sugar offer a quick fix – a burst of energy and alertness, but that soon fades away… I suggest something different – try a healthy, nutrient-dense breakfast that will satisfy your cravings and provide actual sustained energy and fullness. But what kind of breakfast would give you that?
Rich In Fiber
There are two reasons why a breakfast rich in fiber is the best thing you can get in the morning. Firstly, fiber increases food volume while having zero effect on calories! When you eat more fiber (such as contained in whole grains, fruits and vegetables), the fiber then further expands in your stomach, giving you feeling of being full and satiated, reducing your hunger and helping you keep away from unhealthy snacks1.
Secondly, fiber is especially beneficial to consume in the morning because it cleanses the digestive system, stimulates the bowels and helps us start the day with a clean slate. Anything else you eat later on will be better processed, helping you actually extract and assimilate the nutrients in your food1.
Harvard Health Blog suggests that you should aim for about 6 grams of fiber with your breakfast2. Two easy ways to get it are cereal and fruit (or veggies). Good old oats will provide about 4 grams of fiber3 – add some nuts and fruit to it and you can easily get to the 6 grams. Or you can go for 2 slices of wholegrain bread with avocado (total of 6-7 grams of fiber)3. Fruits such as apples, bananas, oranges, strawberries and raspberries are always a good fiber-rich addition to your breakfast. Or just sprinkle some chia seeds on anything – that will skyrocket your fiber intake by 5 grams with just one tablespoon3!
Breakfast is a great opportunity to load up on vitamins and minerals, proteins and some healthy fats4. All this nutrition will keep your energy levels up and contribute to a productive day. Especially the balance between protein and carbs has been shown to stimulate cognitive function5.
- Glucose – overnight the body uses up stored glycogen which needs to be replenished in the morning. Your best option is to go for slow-release carbohydrates which will be gradually digested and used up, giving you sustained energy vs the highs and lows of sugar consumption (or other simple carbs such as white flour). Such foods are again whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans.
- Protein, Vitamins & Minerals – it is difficult to get all the vitamins and minerals your body requires during just lunch and dinner and quick snacks are usually not a big help either. You can get a great head start with a nutritious breakfast. For example, a serving of buckwheat porridge3 with walnuts and raisins can provide 35% of the daily requirement of protein, 100% of manganese, 20% of iron, over 50% of magnesium, copper and phosphorus, and 20% of vitamin B3 and B6.
- Healthy fats – we need essential fatty acids, namely omega–3 and omega–6 fats, for most important bodily functions, including those of the nervous system and brain. Adding just 2-3 raw walnuts or a tablespoon of raw ground flaxseeds to your breakfast will provide a generous serving of omega 3. Further, avocados are a great source of monounsaturated fats6 – the good fats that lower bad cholesterol – and can easily be added to any breakfast for extra creaminess and nutrition.
A truly healthy breakfast provides a variety of nutrients. It is impossible to create the all-you-will-ever-need breakfast because what you need changes! That means that the best breakfast is different every few days and changes with the seasons. I recommend trying out a variety of recipes and selecting 4-5 favorites that you can rotate. Then keep experimenting and trying out new options for most fun and a balanced diet.
Now that you know what makes a healthy breakfast, don’t start thinking of excuses to skip it! Research suggests that breakfast skippers have a higher chance of being overweight than breakfast eaters2. You can create your own wholesome breakfast or check out these suggested recipes of healthy breakfasts which will only take 5 minutes to prepare and can be easily adjusted to the seasons and your own preferences.
Finally, if you have a quick-tasty-healthy breakfast recipe – please share it in the comments! 🙂
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