The Breakfast Mistakes… Are We Asking The Wrong Question?
Ahh breakfast. Is it the most important meal or isn’t it?
That question itself even gives me the heebie jeebies because it is so outdated. By now we know that nutrition and health is not black and white and I’ve said it a thousand times, but what may totally change someones health for the better may actually cause negative outcomes in another. One mans meat may be another mans poison.
So this question of is breakfast the most important meal of the day, or should you eat breakfast is like asking if something is “healthy”. Funnily enough, I often get asked this and I don’t know how to answer it! I simply say “it depends what you consider healthy or unhealthy”, there is no secret list of healthy and unhealthy things that I have access to!
It may depend on many things; your physical differences, your background, your mental state, previous conditions, your thoughts, your menstrual phase, the moon… Literally anything!
And this is not just between individuals but within the same person too.
For example, I exercise differently around my menstrual cycle. When I am in follicular, I do more high intensity and it gives me so much energy for the rest of the day (legit I’ll be exploding with energy). When I am in luteal, if I do high intensity it makes me feel drained, burnt out, lethargic and like I want to sleep all day. Two totally different outcomes. Read about my exercise routine here.
As another example, sometimes I go out with my friends and I don’t have a single sip of alcohol – I do this if I have a lot of work on, if my sleep is a little off or if I feel run down. Funny thing about me is that I never ever get sick. It sounds crazy I know, but I really don’t. I can’t even remember a time I was sick with a virus or flu, and throughout school I pretty much never took a sick day, expect for one time I had to take two weeks off school because I got a parasite in Peru, and couldn’t eat or get out of bed and lost about 8kgs in two weeks – not fun.
So even though I don’t get sick, I do however get run down, generally from too much burning the candle at both ends and trying to do too much too quickly (Aries problems), and I can always feel this coming because I’ll start getting ulcers in my mouth, purely from stress. So if I’m like this I know that alcohol is going to f**k my immune system and I’ll end up with way more ulcers and feeling totally run down. In these times I won’t touch alcohol, because it’s poison.
On the other hand, when I am feeling totally healthy, I love to enjoy drinks with my friends! I of course am mindful and after years of trial and error know my limits and know what I can handle without sending me into a spiral of depression the next day (old Liv).
So you see there is no black and white with these things. It depends, and it is undoubtably important that you tune into your own centre and your own truth to figure out what the best option for you is. Read more about my philosophy on health and centredness here (this realisation was a pivotal moment in my health journey).
LOVE A TANGENT. Back to breakfast.
Whether you eat it or not, or maybe you eat it at a non-traditional breakfast time, these are two of the common breakfast or first meal mistakes I see, that cause people to crave sugar or overeat later in the day.
Not enough protein.
Protein is the most satisfying macronutrient, meaning it keeps you fuller for longer. With the rise of plant based diets, many are eating meals that don’t contain enough protein. And this does not mean you need to eat meat in order to get enough. But with common meals now being avocado on toast, fruit smoothies, fruit salads, toast based breakfasts… These meals just don’t contain enough protein to keep you satisfied and if you aren’t satisfied you’ll find yourself craving sugar, being hungry soon after you eat, thinking about your next meal, and overeating at your next meal or grazing throughout the rest of the day, all in a bid to be more satisfied.
Look to include at least 20g of protein. This may be:
- 2-3 eggs
- Protein powder (my favourite vegan options are Bare Blends, True Protein and Whole Earth and Sea). You’ll notice I never post a smoothie recipe without protein powder and this is because I want the smoothie to be able to replace a meal with decent protein
- Fish – small can of fish (tuna, Mackeral or sardines), or approximately 100g smoked fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines)
- Chicken or meat (this one is unlikely to apply if you eat breakfast in the morning, although there’s no reason you can’t, but certainly if you break your fast later in the day with a lunch type meal) – Go for about the size and thickness of your palm or a deck of cards is a good indicator. And don’t forget to fill the rest of your plate with plants and non-starchy veg.
Too much sugar and simple carbohydrates.
Of course if you eat too much sugar for breaky, your blood sugar won’t be nicely regulated. This means it will spike, insulin will be released to get it out of the blood stream. Then it will dip too low… And when it dips low, you end up feeling lethargic, no energy, brain fog and of course craving sugar (as the body has learnt that this is a quick and easy way to return the blood sugar back to normal).
Think of children at school these days when they have a breakfast of simple carbs and sugar – they can’t concentrate, they can’t do the school work, they are in shitty moods, and this leads to all sorts of behavioural and psychological problems. That child may think that they are dumb, or they get labeled as the naughty kid and it’s a flow on effect from there. Yes a good nutritious breakfast can have a huge impact like this when you look at it that way.
And it’s the same for adults. A blood sugar rollercoaster can make you frustrated, hard to deal with, depressed, hungry, hangry, short-tempered, overweight etc.
If your breakfast is grain based, it’s likely going to be a big load of carbohydrates without much else. For this reason things like porridge alone I’m not a fan of. Although for a child or teen, as long as you add something else on the side like eggs, I think that can be a perfectly healthy breakfast. Let’s not talk about the fact that many eat porridge (grain-based) with honey, brown sugar, a heap of fruit and syrups and wash it down with juice. GAH! At least skip the juice and add a protein element like eggs or protein powder.
This goes for toast too. A meal based on refined flour (aka bread) does not make a nutritious breakfast.
If you do wish to have toast, add it once you’ve already got your good quality protein and fat (and ideally vegetables too), instead of starting with bread and adding from there. Alternatively if you’d like to try some low-carb and grain-free breads, I love the No Grainer loaves and also the Vernedi Keto Loaf. If you feel like making your own, you can’t go wrong with my Fluffy Keto Bread. I make this all the time.
So which ever time you like to eat breakfast, I’ve got some great breakfast recipes below for some inspiration…
Take note of the smoothies as you’ll see my smoothies follow quite a different formula than most, and they are very low in sugar and fruit, making them the perfect combo of protein and fat and low in carbohydrates, to keep you full and satisfied (and productive and happy) until your next meal.
Looking for help with overeating and sugar cravings? My signature 4 week program The Sweetness Beyond Sugar begins in January, if you feel like you need a helping hand, I’m there throughout the four weeks to answer any questions you have. And yes it includes an entire ebook of my recommended breakfast recipes. Read more here.