Is Breakfast Really The Most Important Meal Of The Day?

For years we’ve been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, that it kick starts your metabolism, fuels you for the day ahead and that you shouldn’t leave the house without it.

Firstly, as I always reiterate there is no one size fits all and so I wanted to take you through both sides of the argument.

Initially I’m focussing on the role of breakfast for adults although scroll a little further down and I’ll also explain how breakfast should be approached with regards to children.

breakfast skipping.jpg

What are the pros for eating breakfast?

1.       Energy and brain function

Firstly, it’s said that eating breakfast helps improve energy levels and brain function across the morning.

2.       Body weight

Some research suggests that eating breakfast is associated with a lower body fat percentage. One study on 270 adults suggested that skipping breakfast was associated with a reduction of fat-free mass (aka muscle mass).

3.       Replace losses

Additional arguments for eating breakfast suggest that eating breakfast helps to replace stores of protein and calcium which are lost during the night as a result of repair.

4.       Improved blood sugar control

Some studies suggest that eating breakfast can help to support balanced blood sugar levels throughout the rest of the day. Those who ate made breakfast the largest meal of the day were also said to have a lower body weight than those who didn’t.

Although like with anything there are two sides to the story and the research is still unclear as to whether breakfast skippers are more likely to be overweight in general.

The reason for the individual skipping breakfast could be a greater predictor of bodyweight rather than if they eat breakfast or not.  

For example, an individual who skips breakfast in an attempt to lose weight may have history of chronic dieting and a poor relationship with food which as a result may lead them to eating later on in the day. In this case the individual is more likely to be overweight despite having breakfast or not.

Furthermore, the new clan of intermittent fasting advocates argue that skipping breakfast is better for weight management, insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control.

The strongest argument still stands that you should listen to your body. If you’re someone who wakes up hungry then eat a good quality breakfast. Equally if you’re someone who struggles with the sight of food in the morning then honour your body and wait until later.

Finally, on this point, I wish to reiterate that focussing on what you’re eating for breakfast is of equal importance as to whether you eat it or not. Opt for breakfasts high in protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates to see you through the morning. Foods such as eggs, scrambled tofu, smashed avocado on rye toast, smoked salmon or peanut butter on rye toast or a hearty bowl of porridge are all great options.

porridge 2.jpg

But what about children?

Children are growing bodies with high physical and psychological demands.  As a result I would suggest that children always have breakfast to ensure they’re getting enough micronutrients and to aid energy, concentration and performance throughout the day.

Much like adults a bowl of high sugar cereal won’t cut it. It will play havoc with their blood sugar levels and may impair cognition, mood and behaviour throughout the morning. Opt for porridge with banana and peanut butter, eggs on wholegrain toast, peanut butter on wholegrain toast or natural yoghurt with frozen berries are much better options.

Yasuda, J., Asako, M., Arimitsu, T., & Fujita, S. (2018). Skipping breakfast is associated with lower fat-free mass in healthy young subjects: a cross-sectional study. Nutrition research60, 26-32.

Cooper, S. B., Bandelow, S., Nute, M. L., Morris, J. G., & Nevill, M. E. (2012). Breakfast glycaemic index and cognitive function in adolescent school children. British Journal of Nutrition107(12), 1823-1832.

Sievert, K., Hussain, S. M., Page, M. J., Wang, Y., Hughes, H. J., Malek, M., & Cicuttini, F. M. (2019). Effect of breakfast on weight and energy intake: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Bmj364, l42.

Prepping Your Health

As it’s Sunday (if you’re reading this from my newsletter – which you can sign up via my home page if you’re not) I thought I would share my top tips for starting your week on a healthy step.

Set your intentions the night before. Mondays are often an excuse to ‘start a fresh’ or begin on another crash diet. Although if you’re familiar with this pattern you’ll also know that as it’s a recurring weekly process it’s evident that this strategy doesn’t work. This is why I’ve written this article to help break this pattern and really set your week up in a healthy way.

1.       Prep your breakfast

Sunday evenings are the perfect time to slice your mushrooms and tomatoes ready for a pan. You can even mix your eggs together in a bowl with salt and pepper all set to scramble in the morning. Alternatively, if oats are more your thing then why not try an overnight oats recipe where you simply soak 1 part oats to 1 part milk (of your choice) with water, then add spices, fruit and a sweetener of your choice.

2.       Plan and diarise your workouts

The key here is to diarise. If you don’t diarise your workouts you’re simply suggesting that your plan is flexible. Although writing them into your diary means you’re less likely to let other commitments take over.

3.       Stock up your fridge or write your shopping list

If you’re already in wrapped up in bed by the time you’re reading this then how about writing your food shopping list for this week. You’re much more likely to stick to the healthy options if you write a list and don’t divert from it! Split the list into: meats/fish/eggs/ tofu, fruit and vegetables, complex carbohydrates (quinoa, buckwheat, brown rice, oats, kidney beans, chickpeas, sweet potatoes etc), dairy or dairy alternatives and then snacks. This is a great way to help you plan your meals and eat healthier without spending a fortune too.

jars.jpg

4.       Plan your self-care time

Self-care is really important when it comes to overall health and ironically it’s often over looked. Check your diary and see if you have any evenings in. I always recommend trying to have at least two evenings in, a week to help ensure you’ve got some down time. Self-care time can be anything from a 20-minute yoga YouTube video, a bath, a cup of tea or baking session.

5.       Wash and Chop

Wash and chop your vegetables in order to ensure you’ve got snacks. Peppers, cucumbers and carrots make for great snacks with hummus or guacamole for a quick snack.

These super simple tips are a great way for starting your week off on the right foot. You no longer have to embark on a new diet every Monday. Instead try focusing on making these healthy habits a lifestyle!

Breaking Your Reliance on Sugar

How do I break my reliance on sugar? This is one of the most common questions I get asked so I thought I’d share some of my answers on here.

Firstly, I’d recommend assessing when you’re consuming the most sugar and if there are any trends in your habits. I.e. are you stressed or anxious? Maybe you’re bored or miserable? Are there certain times of the day that you feel these cravings are stronger than others? Do you use sugar as a fast energy hit?

There are hundreds of questions which you could ask yourself here. Although as we are all unique your reasoning for eating more sugar than you’d like might be different to your SO’s, best friend or neighbours. The point is once you’ve started to identify your triggers you can help to put strategies in place to change these habits.

Now before we go any further I want to reiterate that I’m not suggesting you can never have sugar again, I’m simply making you aware (if you’re someone who’s over consuming it regularly) of how you can reduce your intake.

Right, moving on…

  1. Don’t keep it in your house (or your car!)

The first way which can really help to reduce your cravings is simply by not buying it and keeping it in your house. I often get the excuse ‘but my kids like it’, well in all honesty your kids shouldn’t be over consuming on it either. Make a shopping list and avoid deviating from the list whilst you’re out. I’d also like to put in here that it’s never a good idea to go food shopping whilst you’re hungry!

cookies.jpg

2. Start your day with a high protein breakfast

You’ve no doubt heard me talk about this before but starting your day with a high protein breakfast can help to prevent your blood sugar levels dropping too low. When your blood sugar levels are low you’re much more likely to crave a fast releasing energy source (incoming sugar) and you’re more likely to eat more of it too. Opt for eggs with avocado, peanut butter on rye toast or porridge with Greek yoghurt or some high quality protein powder.

3. Be prepared

Of course there will be days where you’ll just want a cookie and that’s totally fine but for the other days whilst you’re trying to break such a reliance on sugar make sure you have other snack options to prevent you feeling like you’re missing out. See my snack list below

  • Pip and Nut Almond Butter Sachets

  • Nakd Bars (for the sweeter options)

  • Emily vegetable crisps

  • Nush squeezy tubes

  • Brave roasted pea mixes.

4. Opt for herbal teas

Sometimes breaking the cravings are simply about breaking the habits. It’s so much easier to break a habit when you’re putting a new one in place. Switching your evening sweet snack for a herbal tea can really help to satisfy that sweet tooth whilst providing you with something to sip on throughout your evening TV session. If you’re still cravings something sweet afterwards then opt for 2 squares of dark chocolate or some berries with cinnamon and Greek yoghurt.

5. Take time out for you!

For some sugar consumption is linked with your emotions. If you’re feeling stressed, anxious or upset why not try taking some time out for you. Have a cuppa, run a bath, read a book or switch on a short YouTube yoga session. This can often distract you from your emotions and also help to break the association between sugar and your emotional state.

Bonus Tip: Cut the unnecessary additions.

Cutting sugary drinks and adding sugar to your tea and coffee is one of the simplest ways of reducing your overall sugar consumption. Sugar in liquid form is absorbed rapidly into the blood stream and drives your blood sugar rollercoaster.

So there you have a few top tips in helping to lower your overall sugar consumption. I’d love to hear how you get on with this so feel free to drop me a message on Instagram @jennahopenutrition or send me an email jennahope@jennahopenutrition.com!