By Tasha Koerner-Bungey
Are you a breakfast eater or a breakfast skipper? Many of us grew up learning that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
However – there are certainly a LOT of ‘skippers’ out there. So… should everyone be having breakfast every day?!
The answer is… yes and no… As is with nutrition – it all depends on the individual!
There are many factors as to why someone may choose, or choose not to have breakfast, and there is certainly a lot written in magazines and on the internet about the topic. So I have delved into the research and considered what I see in practice to give you an overview to help you determine whether you should keep doing what you’re doing, or try switching up your morning routine!
For some, ‘skipping the calories’ to save for later in the day to control weight can lead to a foggy-minded work morning, low energy levels, and immense hunger… leading to being way hungrier later in the day putting one at risk for ‘off-plan’ or mindless eating (reaching for a snack from the vending machine at work, caving-in for a larger than planned lunch, or eating and snacking way more in the evening than if you had had something substantial over the day!).
Studies have found that those who skip breakfast may end up consuming more at the other end of the day, leading to their good intentions for watching their calorie intake being cut short!
If you can relate, being a regular breakfast eater may indeed be a very positive way to support a regular appetite, fuel yourself well and regularly over the day.
For others, breakfast just ain’t a thing… and that works! You may be a late riser, someone who naturally begins to feel ready for something to eat later in the morning or is a dedicated faster. If you feel you are not depriving yourself in the morning, or working through hunger uncomfortably, there is no evidence to suggest you should start eating a regular breakfast for weight management. (If you are hungrier than normal on a day – I do encourage listening to your body so have breakky if your body is telling you it wants food!).
There is some data that having a larger breakfast and a smaller dinner may result in better metabolic outcomes.
There are some small studies reflecting that having the largest meal of the day at breakfast have shown better blood glucose and insulin responses to that meal and over the remainder of the day (i.e. their body is able to process & utilise the nutrients more efficiently), compared to when eating their largest meal at night. This has been shown in populations with a range of weight ‘categories’, and in people with type 2 diabetes, so this could be something to trial! This may also have a positive effect on overall energy or calorie intake – if we begin the day well fuelled and fed, we may be less likely to overeat at the end of the day. We also may be more “in tune” with our hunger levels, which is favourable for a variety of factors when it comes to eating and digestion.
The age old “eat breakfast to boost your metabolism” saying is not true – this relates to the thermic effect of food – i.e. the energy or calories we “burn” from digesting our food. The thermic effect of food does not have more of an effect on “calorie burning” at any certain mealtime or eating occasion!
Breakfast is a great opportunity to get in regular servings of essential nutrients; it may be your way of getting in servings from the five food groups (fruit, dairy, protein, vegetables and wholegrains). Skipping breakfast may mean you miss out on some quality nutrients if you are not able to include them consistently in other meals of the day – often we see people falling short particularly on dairy, fruit and fibre when skipping breakky. Be sure to load up your other main meals with vegetables, and prioritise a snack of fruit to ensure you are getting the valuable vitamin, minerals, phytochemicals and fibre they provide
Not sure how much of what types of foods you should be aiming to include? Look out for our post on the 5 food groups coming up soon, and come in to see Tash who can provide you with personalised feedback of what is best for you!
Cognition and concentration
Often one of the motivators for breakfast is to fuel our brains for a productive morning ahead. Whilst this is essential for children and adolescents, it does not appear as much so for adults. There is some evidence in adults to show that eating breakfast can improve memory and memory recall – and if you are a faithful breakky eater I am sure you can relate! Of course – it can be difficult to concentrate with a growling stomach, so tune in to how you feel – and give breakfast a go to see if it helps your focus.
Of course, these are general guidelines and summaries of the research – if you have a specific disease or condition, or health concern, it is always good to consider and discuss what may be best for your health and goals with a professional!
If you are a breakfast eater – are you choosing the right things?!
A breakfast should ideally be balanced by including protein, high-fibre carbohydrates, and fats. This way, you are likely to stay fuelled and fuller for longer, and getting some key, healthy, nutrients! Here are a few ideas (and recipes) to suit those who like to take their time in the morning, and also those who rush out of bed and out the door!
For those who are time poor:
Protein shake made with milk (or calcium fortified plant mylk) with a piece of fruit
Smoothie (include dairy (or fortified plant mylk), fruit, veg, cinnamon, and some wholegrain oats/cereal or fibre mix)
– 1x banana, or 1 cup frozen mixed berries
– 1x handful of spinach
– 1 scoop protein powder (optional)
– 200-250ml milk of choice
– few cubes of ice
– 1/3rd tsp ground cinnamon
– 2 tbsp rolled oats or fibre mix
– teaspoon honey (optional)
– 1/3c rolled oats
– 1 tbsp chia seeds
– ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
– ¼ tsp vanilla extract
– (Optional: protein powder)
– mix + soak overnight in ½ cup milk or water (or ½ + ½) in container/jar ready to go
– Grab n go in the morning!
ADD YOUR OWN TOPPINGS: add fruit/berries, yoghurt, nut butter, coconut flakes… so many options!
Pre hard-boiled eggs on toast (or vitaweats/rice cakes)
Slice of veggie frittata / egg bake cups (bake and freeze in slices – then take out to defrost the night before!)
Makes 10-12 serves
– 12 eggs
– 1 cup baby spinach
– 1 cup diced broccoli or cooked broccolini
– 1 large tomato, sliced
– cracked black pepper, ½ tablespoon garlic powder
– option: 3 tbs basil pesto or caramelised onion, optional ¼ c crumbled feta cheese
Crack and whisk eggs into bowl, add some cracked black pepper and garlic powder if desired.
Pour into 10-12x lined or greased (with olive oil) muffin tins or into lined shallow baking tin.
Add spinach, broccoli (or veggies of choice) into egg mixture evenly.
Pop a teaspoon of pesto or onion if desired.
Place tomato slices on top as final layer.
Bake in oven at 180 degrees for ~20mins or until they are set.
Store in airtight container for a few days, or store individually in snap lock bags and freeze.
For those who like getting up a little earlier for breakky:
Wholegrain toast with nut butter and banana
Coffee and homemade wholegrain/oat muffin with nut butter
High protein yoghurt with fruit and nuts
Poached eggs with spinach, sliced tomato, avocado on toast
Wholegrain toast with vegemite, avocado and tomato
Breakfast bowl with leftover roasted vegetables, quinoa/rice, and scrambled/poached egg or tofu
For those seizing the day with a leisurely breakfast
Smoothie bowl including fruit, spinach, oats and source of protein (either from dairy milk &/or using protein powder) with nut butter, seeds, berries as a topping
Banana oat pancakes
1 banana, mashed
1/3rd cup of rolled oats or quick oats (or choice of flour if not using oats)
2tbsp milk or water
sprinkle of cinnamon
(optional: 1tbs protein powder)
Mix ingredients together – add more water or milk if needing to get to a thinner batter consistency
Heat non-stick pan on medium heat + pour batter to make 1x large or 2-3x small pancakes
once bubbles begin to appear, flip pancakes with spatula + cook on other side until cooked through (~60seconds)
Serve with fruit/berries and high protein yoghurt / nut butter on top!
Classic big breakky including a variety of veggies and wholegrain bread
Shakshuka (baked eggs in tomato sauce – add beans for extra protein and fibre and spinach for a healthy dose of added vitamins, minerals and antioxidants)
2-3 egg omelette with spinach, tomato, mushroom, broccolini + cheese!