Ok, so we know that eating breakfast is an absolute must. It’s how you kick-start your metabolism, keep your blood sugar levels constant, improve concentration, feel better and maintain your weight.
But what foods should you be putting into your body in order to have a ripper day?
We sat down with Kirsty, Fast Fuel’s very own dietitian, to find out her top ingredient suggestions for the first meal of the day.
- They’re Low GI, which means they are absorbed and digested more slowly by the body. This results in less ‘spiking’ of your blood sugar levels (which result in energy highs and lows) so you experience more constant energy throughout the day.
- Oats contain an awesome soluble fibre called Beta-Glucan, which helps to reduce cholesterol, reduce blood sugar, makes you feel fuller AND encourages the growth of good bacteria in the body, especially the digestive tract.
- They’re full of antioxidants including avenanthramides, which are great at reducing blood pressure and inflammation in the body.
- They’re loaded with nutrients! As well as carbohydrates and fibre, oats contain over 10 essential nutrients and vitamins including magnesium, manganese, iron, zinc and folate.
- Oats are jam-packed full of nutrients and antioxidants, but are also super low in calories. Half a cup of oats contains a tiny 303 calories, which means you can fill up without packing on the pounds.
- As if that’s not enough, oats are an incredibly versatile ingredient and can be used to make meals such as overnight oats, oat muffins, porridge and can even go well in smoothies.
- Yoghurt contains almost every essential vitamin and nutrient your body needs. It’s particularly high in calcium (healthy teeth and strong bones), B vitamins (protect against heart disease) and magnesium (regulates blood pressure).
- It’s super high in protein, which supports the effectiveness of your metabolism and helps regulate your appetite - making it perfect for anyone trying to lose weight and gain lean muscle!
- Some yoghurts naturally contain probiotics due to the nature of their starter culture, which aid digestive health and can help strengthen your immune system. Just be sure to check the label before you buy, as some manufacturers kill the probiotics during the heat treatment process when they’re pasteurized.
- They’re very high in nutritional value but very low in calories. A 28g serving contains 11 grams of fibre, 4 grams of protein and 5 grams of Omega-3 fatty acids… but only 137 calories!
- They’re high in Omega-3 fatty acids which are incredibly important for the body, assisting with everything from mental wellbeing to eye health. The only downside? They contain Omega-3 ALA, which is not absorbed by the body as efficiently as other variations - so make sure you incorporate other Omega-3 rich foods into your diet.
- Chia seeds are high in fibre and protein, which means greater feelings of satisfaction and fullness, improved digestion and the slower absorption of food.
- They’re good for your bones! One 28g serve contains 18% of your daily recommended intake of calcium, which is essential for strengthening bones and reducing your risk of osteoporosis.
- Eggs are absolutely loaded with protein (about 7.5g per 600g egg), most of it found in the whites. It’s also considered a ‘complete’ protein, as it contains all nine essential amino acids.
- They’re very nutrient dense and contain almost every essential compound the human body needs. Which makes sense, considering they contain everything required to grow a living, breathing chicken! (However as a small side note, we don’t recommend eating eggs every day of the week as the yokes are high in cholesterol. If you’re worried, try eating just the whites instead!)
- Ever heard of Choline? Probably not - it’s a nutrient that commonly gets overlooked, despite being the key ingredient for building cell membranes and repairing the body! A staggering 90% of people in the US are deficient in choline, with many of them not even knowing it. Make sure you get some eggs on your plate and keep your Choline levels optimal.
- Like eggs, quinoa is a complete protein and one of the best sources you can find.
- Compared to other common grains such as rice, quinoa contains about double the fibre!
- Quinoa is high in iron, which is essential for our red blood cell health and helps with haemoglobin formation, resulting in higher energy levels and more effective transmission of nutrients and hormones throughout the body.
- It’s also high in Riboflavin (otherwise known as Vitamin B2) which is essential for your metabolism and efficient energy production.
- Quinoa is great for immune health due to containing Manganese, which protects mitochondria and red blood cells in the body from free radicals.
- Almonds are full of antioxidants including Vitamin E, and help protect the body from oxidative stress, which contributes to the damage and ageing of the body over time. (Note: these are mostly found in the brown skin, so try to avoid eating blanched versions!)
- They’re great for regulating your blood sugar levels due to their low carb, high fibre and high protein composition. They also contain Magnesium, which further aids this.
- Almonds help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol… but also help prevent the oxidation of LDL, which is a key part of the development of heart disease. The skin of almonds contains polyphenol antioxidants, which are the body’s natural defense against LDL oxidation!
When’s The Best Time To Eat Breakfast?
There's so much conflicting information, fad diets and 'fitness experts' out and about, claiming all sorts of things when it comes to the what to eat - and when to eat - the first meal of the day.
Guys, the rule is simple: get up and get fuelled. Whether you're up and hitting the gym, prefer a slower morning routine or enjoy some gentle cardio - the rule stays the same.
Why? Because when your body is in fast mode (i.e., first thing in the morning) it turns to your muscle to use as fuel. If you’re trying to build or maintain your physique, this is clearly a bad thing! But this also applies to people trying to lose weight - muscle helps your metabolism work more effectively when at rest, and therefore to lose weight (and maintain your loss long term) you need lean muscle.
If you’re up early and exercising first thing, try eating half a banana before and a full breakfast after. This will get your body out of fast mode and help you build and retain muscle, without making you feel sick from working out on a full stomach. If you’re up early but don’t exercise for an hour or so, make eating breakfast your first step of the day.
Getting the good stuff into your diet…
Need some breakfast inspo? Here are Kirsty’s favourite brekkie recipes to help you get the best kickstart to your day.
Note: All recipes serve one.
Apple and Cinnamon Overnight Oats
35g Oats, Raw
1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp. Honey
1 Tbsp. Chia seeds, Black
1 tsp. Nutmeg
100mls Almond milk, unsweetened Sanitarium
1. Combine oats, almond milk, chia seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg and honey into a medium bowl. Stir well, cover and store in fridge overnight.
2 Tbsp. Chia seeds, Black
1 Tbsp. Chobani, Plain 0.5% Fat
80mls Almond milk, unsweetened
1 tsp. Vanilla essence
1 tsp. Honey
½ tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1. Combine almond milk, chia seeds, yoghurt, honey, vanilla essence, WPI and cinnamon in a glass or small bowl. Mix together.
2. Cover and leave in fridge overnight.
3. Top with berries to serve
Quinoa, Egg and Dukkah Breakfast Bowl
20g Quinoa, dry
40g Baby Spinach
½ Tbsp. Dukkah
½ Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 tsp. Garlic, minced
1. Rinse and drain quinoa. Combine water with quinoa in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to boil. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes (quinoa should be light and fluffy)
2. Add oil to a non-stick fry pan over medium heat and add tomato, spinach and garlic. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until spinach is wilted
3. To poach eggs - fill a medium saucepan halfway with water, add 3 Tbsp. of brown or white vinegar. Bring water to boil. Gently crack eggs into the boiling water. Reduce heat slightly and leave eggs in water until desired runniness of yolk is achieved. Gently remove eggs from water once cooked.
4. To assemble - place quinoa, tomato and spinach into a serving bowl. Top with poached eggs and sliced avocado.
Quinoa Fruit Salad
1/2 cup cooked quinoa (Red Quinoa works especially well with this recipe)
Juice of 1/2 small lime
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup blueberries
1/4 cup sliced strawberries
1/4 cup chopped mango
Heaped tablespoon Greek Yoghurt
1. Add quinoa, blueberries, strawberries, mango and mint to bowl and mix.
2. Whisk honey and lime juice separately, then add to quinoa/fruit mix.
3. Add yoghurt on top