Breakfast has often been referred to as the most important meal of the day and for pretty good reason. It’s a common story in clinic for patients to experience afternoon energy crashes, sugar cravings, fatigue, difficulty meeting protein goals and binging throughout the day. For many people it can be as simple as starting the day fuelling the body with the right nutrition.
Eating a balanced breakfast that includes all three macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat) can help stabilise blood sugar, help with meeting protein goals, sustained energy throughout the day, performing better, less injury and not getting sick, sounds pretty good right? Breakfast is especially important for people experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned, active people who want to perform well in their sessions and recover well after and people with busy or stressful lifestyles.
When we wake up in the morning, our blood sugar levels are usually low. Eating a balanced meal breaks the overnight fast i.e. break-fast!
Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy, so it’s important to include them in our breakfast, particularly important if you have a second training session later in the day. Carbohydrate consumption post training is also beneficial at lowering cortisol which can often spike after training. Consuming carbohydrates on their own can result in blood sugar spikes which can then result in a blood sugar crash, leading to sugar cravings. It is important to pair carbohydrates with protein and a small amount of fat to provide sustained energy and minimise sugar cravings. Good sources of carbohydrates at breakfast are sourdough/wholemeal toast, fruits, buckwheat, rice cakes, honey, oats, beans.
Protein is important for building and repairing tissues in the body, building neurotransmitters for balanced mood, a healthy immune system and satiety (feeling full) to name a few.
Good sources of protein for breakfast include free range eggs, Greek yogurt, salmon, meats, fish, tofu. Protein powders can be used; however, you can miss many other nutrients if using protein powders regularly as your main protein source. They can be very beneficial if you have high protein targets or prefer consuming drinks over food post heavier training sessions.
Fat is also an important nutrient for our bodies; however, most people don’t have much of an issue getting enough fat in their diet. Sources of fat for breakfast include avocado, nuts, nut butter, olive oil, grass fed butter, egg yolks and seeds.
The next conversation I often have with clients, is “oh I have coffee for breakfast”. No, that’s not breakfast. Coffee is not food and shouldn’t be relied upon as a main source of energy. Coffee is a stimulant which can provide an energy boost; however, it does not provide the body with nutrients and fuel that it needs to function properly. Relying on coffee for energy can lead to feeling even more tired and sluggish throughout the day. Enjoy your coffee, but also give your body the fuel it needs.
When we don’t provide our bodies with adequate nutrition in the morning, it can feel like it’s playing catch up all day. This can lead to sugar cravings and binging on less nutritious foods later in the day as the body is seeking energy and fast by that point. With the main source of energy in the body being carbohydrate, the body will generally crave quick energy sources such as sweets, chips, caffeine and often everything and anything that is in the cupboard or close by reach at the time if the body is attempting to function with inadequate fuel.
So, in short, start your day fuelling your tank so you have the energy to perform, recover and feel like a superstar until the end of the day!