Step up a gear with a power breakfast

Just like your mom always told you, Rochez O’Grady says: “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” We’ve all heard this before, but what happens if you’re not hungry? Should you still eat breakfast then? And why aren’t you hungry? Is it because you had a big dinner? 

If the answer is yes, maybe you had the all-you-can-eat Monday ribs special at Spur or decided to dish up a third helping of the wife’s casserole. Then contemplate to yourself…

Why were you so starving in the first place? The most common scenario is because you were running around at work and ended up being so busy you lost track of time. Do you often ending up only eating at three pm, because that’s the first time you’ve looked down at your watch? This can form a vicious cycle of eating too much in the evening and then skipping breakfast the next morning.

Eating breakfast, making time to nourish your body, is the most effective way of breaking this cycle and starting your day on a healthy note. In the beginning if all you can stomach is a small meal to start off your day, go for it, it is better than nothing. The benefits of including breakfast can help you reach a number of goals; it can promote weight loss and healthier eating – as you include more nutrients in your day and allow for better food choices.

When you wake up, your body craves refuelling. This is because the liver’s stored energy has been converted and used to fuel your brain while you were sleeping and is depleted by the time you wake. It is the organ that is going to help you function optimally throughout the day, so it makes sense to feed it.

If you skip breakfast your metabolism will be sluggish as your body tries to feed your brain with energy and not use it for any other functions. A sluggish metabolism will leave you feeling tired and irritable. We all wake up to a Monday morning feeling the blues, so help yourself to a breakfast to get off on the right foot.

Before hitting the road, whether in the mountains or in the real world, fuel up with a power breakfast. Going out hungry leads to an increase in stress hormones being released, which has been shown to increase muscle breakdown and have a negative impact on your immune system. There is an erroneous belief that not eating before a ride will promote fat loss. The irony is that no fuel in your tank will mean sub-optimal performance and a reduced number of calories burnt. Isn’t that great news; you don’t need to starve yourself, so go ahead and power up.

I am sure you’ve now made a decision to eat breakfast after that informative lecture. Time for the practical side of things: what should you be eating for breakfast, and does it matter?

Yes, it most certainly does matter, as it would for any other meal. If you start your day off with sugary foods or high GI foods (carbohydrates that get digested and absorbed quickly), it will result in a sharp rise in blood sugar levels followed by a nasty crash, resulting in hunger and possibly irritability, (aggravated by the sight of your boss), reduced concentration, fatigue and headache.

In order to prevent these mood swings, go for something healthy and delicious. Healthy: meaning low-sugar breakfast consisting of whole grains, low fat dairy and protein (the quality kind). Here are some fast and easy ideas to rule out any excuses for skipping breakfast. With a little bit of planning you can enjoy breakfast every day.

Quick breakfast ideas:

  • Make instant oatmeal (original flavor) with low-fat milk instead of water. Toss in raisins or dried cranberries and chopped walnuts.
  • Layer low-fat plain yogurt with your favorite high-fibre cereal and blueberries.
  • Blend a breakfast smoothie with low-fat milk, frozen strawberries and a banana.
  • Make one packet of microwave oatmeal with low-fat milk. Mix in chopped up apple and sprinkle with cinnamon.
  • Fill a whole-wheat pita with a sliced, hard-boiled egg and low-fat cottage cheese.
  • Spread a flour tortilla with peanut butter. Add a whole banana and roll it up.
  • Spread low-fat cottage cheese on a toasted slice of low GI bread. Top with sliced tomatoes.
  • Add lean ham, low-fat Swiss cheese and cucumber to a toasted whole-grain English muffin.

Sus the Top Tip:

If this is all sounding a bit hectic for you, and you aren’t a hungry morning person. Start your day with a smaller meal (a snack) rather than a larger meal. Then when you’re hungrier later you can enjoy another smaller meal or a larger meal. The trick is to always aim to eat breakfast (smaller or larger meal) within one to two hours after waking up. Ideally before nine am.

nutrition sponsor Jan 2014

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