Healthspan Editorial Team February 22, 2018

The saying ‘breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper’ suggests breakfast is an important (if not the most important) part of the day. But why is breakfast so important and how can we make sure we’re incorporating the right nutrients into this meal to aid our body in the hours yet to come?

What's so great about breakfast?

1. Eating a healthy breakfast has been linked to weight-loss
Firstly, certain studies have shown a link between this temptation to snack on unhealthy foods after skipping breakfast and obesity. For many – eating breakfast is a key weight loss tool. A study done by the Tel Aviv University also found a high protein breakfast to be beneficial for weight loss. The study that split its participants into three groups - those that consumed mainly whey protein for breakfast, those that consumed only foods high in protein like eggs and tuna for breakfast and those that stuck to carbohydrates to start the day – found both protein breakfast groups lost almost double the weight of those that ate carbohydrates due to staying fuller for longer.

2. Breakfast is a great opportunity to stock up on important nutrients
Secondly, breakfast provides the perfect opportunity to set yourself up for the day and gift your body some of the important nutrients it needs to function. As we’ll discuss shortly, a breakfast containing lean protein, health fat and fibre rich carbohydrates will keep you energised until lunchtime.

3. Breakfast is good for your heart
Lastly, breakfast has been shown to have a number of health benefits. A study published by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology showed atherosclerosis – a build-up of fatty material inside the arteries – was amplified in participants of the study that missed breakfast.

What counts as a healthy start to the day?

Of course…the act of ‘eating breakfast’ doesn’t necessarily make you a healthier person. Traditionally breakfast food is high in refined – carbohydrates and sugar (think bagels, sugary cereals and pastries), all of which will give you a quick burst of energy but do nothing to keep you going through until lunchtime.

Ideally your breakfast should contain lean protein, healthy fats and fibre rich carbohydrates. Eggs are a great option but if you’re short of time – yoghurt is ideal for obtaining the protein side of that equation. Oats and wholegrain bread are both complex carbohydrates that contain fibre - so they tick the ‘fibre rich carbohydrate’ box. They also have a lower glycaemic index meaning the sudden spike in blood sugar that low fibre, refined grains cause won’t be a problem. Refined grains satisfy you momentarily but leave you open to a crash after consumption when your glycaemic index dramatically falls again. And when it comes to healthy fats, choosing avocado or peanut butter (or any type of nut butter) as your toast topper will keep you far more satisfied than a breakfast containing zero fat whatsoever.

Overnight oats, porridge, scrambled eggs, avocado or nut butter on wholegrain toast; these are all easy and healthy options for kick-starting your day. Overnight oats are a particularly good option for an early start as you can prepare them the night before, in a tub that can be grabbed from the fridge before you head to work.

Nothing beats a healthy, balanced diet to provide all the nutrients we need. But when this isn’t possible supplements can help. This article isn’t intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying supplements or herbal medicines.

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