The word breakfast quite literally means ‘break your fast’, however not all breakfast choices are good for your health or weight control. So, what should you eat for breakfast?
Let’s look first at high carbohydrate breakfasts. Large cereal manufacturers push cereal for breakfast because it's big business, but that doesn’t mean that it is good for your health or weight. Your body is not designed to constantly eat high levels of carbohydrates. In fact, the obesity epidemic is founded on people eating vast amounts of carbs that increase their insulin levels and cause continuous fat storage. Breakfast cereals are amongst some of the worst breakfast choices. Many of them contain very high levels of sugars that will send your blood sugar sky high (fat storage) for hours.
How about high fat and high carbohydrate breakfasts? We generally have an extraordinary weakness for foods that contain a 50:50 mix of carbs and fats, such as croissants and donuts. This is because these foods enable us to use the carbs for energy and store the fat for later. This is a great survival tool, but in the modern world, it leads to weight-gain and poor health. Nowhere in nature does this combination exist, but our supermarket shelves are full of them. This is no accident – these foods are biologically irresistible.
Protein Breakfasts? High protein breakfasts, such as eggs and fish, are a much better choice. These foods provide you with much needed protein and help keep your blood sugar under control.
What if I don’t eat breakfast? It was once believed that missing breakfast was a bad habit, however, with the growing popularity of intermittent fasting, research now shows that fasting for breakfast is a healthy choice as drinking just water or herbal teas, will keep your insulin levels perfectly balanced and will enable you to achieve fat burning for longer periods of the day. However, the only drawback with fasting, is that this practice can reduce your metabolic rate.
How about a high fat breakfast? Interestingly, many now believe that fats, in the absence of carbs and protein, not only keep your insulin level low but also increase your metabolism. This is why fat-rich breakfasts are a winning combination for fat-loss and health. However, the problem is finding ways to eat fats in isolation.
Now that you understand how different breakfasts affect your health and weight, it’s time to find a breakfast choice that best suits your own preference and goals:
For Fat Burning: If you choose healthy fluids (warm water, herbal tea, black/white/green/chai tea, organic coffee) for breakfast then your insulin levels will remain low. If you then add in a portion of healthy fats (1 tbsp of MCT oil, coconut oil or grass-fed butter) then your metabolism will also be fully fired up and you will reach your optimal fat burning capabilities. This may seem a strange choice for breakfast but as long as you keep your carb intake low, it will help you burn fat the quickest.
For General Health: Low carb breakfasts make acceptable breakfast choices, such as eggs, avocados, vegetables, fish, coconut, nuts & seeds, veg juices, protein nut bars, berries, bio yogurt, grapefruit and low sugar fruit. Although these choices do not offer the same fat-burning benefits as fats alone, they are easier to achieve and will keep your insulin levels low.
Poor Choices: Poor breakfast options include wholemeal carbs (oats, muesli, low sugar cereal, whole-wheat muffins and granola), high sugar fruits and fruit-based produce (smoothies, dried fruit, honey and fruit juice). These foods are often marketed healthy, as they do contain healthy elements, but they are not nearly as healthy as they seem. Foods that are high in sugar and carbs are appealing because they are convenient and taste good; however, they have a considerable impact on your insulin levels and therefore promote weight gain and disease. Eating these foods regularly for breakfast will hinder your health and weight-loss goals.
Unhealthy Choices: Breakfast choices are those that are very high in sugar/refined carbs (sweetened drinks, white bread, croissants, high sugar cereal, pain au chocolat, high sugar fruits, fruit snack bars, pancakes, dates), unhealthy fats (fast food, fried food) and unhealthy proteins (processed meats). The carbs impact heavily on your blood sugar levels, causing fat storage and low energy, and the processed meats and unhealthy fats cause a burden to the body, contributing to weight gain and disease.
In summary, many people believe that breakfast is the “most important meal of the day”. However, this is only true if your food choices align with your goals. Therefore, if you want to lose fat, then you should choose healthy fluids and fats, in the absence of carbs and proteins. If you simply want to eat healthily then choose vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, nuts & seeds and avocado. If, on the other hand, convenience and taste is your only goal, then eat higher carb foods, but be mindful of their fat-gaining and health drawbacks.
BSc (Hons) Nutritional Therapy, memBANT, memNT, memCNCH
For more information on health and weight loss see ‘The Meta-Keto Diet’. This book is available as an eBook (£6.99), or in paperback (£15.99), via the Secret Healthy Eater Shop; www.secrethealthyeater.com/shop.
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