The first meal of the day gives you energy to start the day well. But what should you eat for breakfast?
Ready? Let's hit it!
Breakfast is Under Aggressive Marketing
Breakfast has always been seen as the "most important meal of the day". And the food industry knew about it.
Taking advantage of this, they started selling their food products arousing children's interests. What these kids didn't know about is all the 'crap' those products contained.
The aggressive marketing of breakfast products has been a main contributor to infant obesity.
Products claiming to be "no sugar added", "70% oats", "high-fibre", and a long list... (study). And that, accompanied with a nice and cute mascot to make marketing strategies more attractive, finally convinced the kid to buy the product (study)
Wether you like it or not, these products are not a good way to start your day.
They are composed of simple sugars and added flavourings. This makes them a non-nutritious source to peak your sugar blood levels and cotribute to an early diabetes stage (study).
Marketing strategies also target other ultraprocessed foods. Easy and quick options for a lazy morning... quite a good reason to choose them.
The Importance of a Healthy Breakfast
Everyone thinks breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but is that true?
Looking at model CICO, the main aspects of our diet are the total calorie intake and macronutrient composition (study).
In this case, calories matter the same at 20:00pm or 7:00am, and breakfast would be as important as any other meal.
"Breakfast is not the most important meal of the day, but nutrient composition and food selection do play a role on the quality of our meal"
The carbohydrate-insulin model, on the other side, makes breakfast a big part of our diet. This model claims to be insulin the main responsible for obesity and weight gain (study).
Circadian Rhythms control and regulate all metabolic reactions, including insulin production. We are quite sensitive to insulin during the morning. An acute large intake of refined carbohydrates with high glycemic index can peak insulin (study).
This potentially contributes to a diabetic and/or obesity stage. In fact, low carbohydrates intakes in the morning were better at keeping blood glucose and insulin secretion (study)
What Should You Eat for Breakfast?
We have seen that although breakfast is not the panacea some people think it is, nutrient composition and food selection may play a role when entering on your "eating window".
Protein is the most important macronutrient for muscle building and nitrogen balance
Overnight, the absence of protein creates a catabolic state.
High-protein breakfast could overcome the catabolic state to induce a positive nitrogen balance and favour muscle growth.
Protein has also a high satiety index. High-protein breakfast in teenagers showed to alter appetite during the first hours in the morning and improve overall diet quality (study)
Substitute some Carbohydrates by Fats
Carbohydrates are the king of our breakfast. Cereals, toasts, pastry,...
But the abuse of this foods and the high sensitivity to insulin in the morning may contribute to insulin resistance (study).
Because fats can also be used as energy source, we could benefit from a higher fat intake first meal in the morning. This could shift our energy metabolism to favour fat oxidation over glycolisis, a concept called "Metabolic Flexibility".
Don’t Forget your Micronutrients
Food composition and micronutrients play a central part in your health and metabolic function (study).
Food choices for your breakfast is not only a matter of the macronutrients provided, but also the nutrient density and input of other nutrients.
Nutrient timing seems to be an important fact to regulate circadian rhythmicity.
Higher micronutrient intake in the morning lowers the risk of nutrient deficiencies. By "doing the work" in the morning, we don't have to worry that much about reaching recommended doses throughout the day.
Use the Nutrient Density Index (NDI) to identify affordable and healthy options for your breakfast.
Moderate High Glycemic Index Carbohydrates
We are more sensitive to insulin in the morning. Including high amounts of carbohdyrates can contribute to insulin resistance (study)
Dietary fiber (carbohydrates) improves insulin sensitivity (study). So, instead of removing them, find sources with higher fibre content and lower glycemic index.
These include whole grains, sourdough bread, oats, vegetables, fruits,...
Our body is 70% water, and we come from being dehydrated overnight.
Hydration plays a central role in your health, regulating body's temperature, mineral and water balance, and the aging process (study).
A good hydration also have physiological effects on sports performance, cognitive performance, gastrointestinal and kidney function, headaches, skin care and prevention of chronic diseases.
Starting the day drinking water is a nice way to remember to stay hydrated and regulate your body's homeostasis. And the sooner you start, the less you have to worry about not drinking enough water.
DRINK YOUR WATER
Best Foods to Eat for Breakfast
Our perfect breakfast doesn't have to be "organic", "gluten free" not "keto". It doesn't have to expensive nor exotic. Make it simple.
By following the Healhy Eating Plate, we can have a guideline for a healthy, tasty and nutritious meal to start the day with energy and health.
Protein For Breakfast
Protein should be 25% of your plate. However, here we like giving amounts in terms of calories and weight.
The recommended dose is 2-3 g/kg of daily protein intake. To get an optimal distribution, a minimum dose of 20-40 g/meal seems to be enough for optimizing muscle growth and protein synthesis.
HIGH PROTEIN BREAKFAST IDEAS
- Turkey Bacon
- Smoked Salmon
- Cottage Cheese
- Whey Protein Powder
Carbohydrates Options for Breakfast
Substitute carbohydrates by whole grains, vegetables, and fruit.
If including a non-fibrous or whole-grain source of carbohydrates makes you enjoy the meal way more and create adherence, go for it.
CARBOHYDRATES BREAKFAST IDEAS
- Sourdough bread
- Whole grain cereals
- Free-sugar granola
Fat Options for Breakfast
In the Healthy Eating Plate, fats are restricted to "healthy oils". However, there are many more sources you can include.
They won't only make your plate tastier, but they come in a solid format, having a higher satiety index than liquid healthy oils.
FATS BREAKFAST IDEAS
- Smoked Salmon
- Greek Yoghurt
- Nut butter
- Chia Seeds
- Cocoa Powder
- Olive Oil / Coconut Oil
Breakfast may not be as important as we thought, but starting the day with a healthy and tasty meal does contribute to your health. But the question is; What Should You Eat for Breakfast?
While protein and fats are recommended, it you should moderate high-glycemic index carbohydrates and line more towards fibrous and whole-grain options.