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What springs to mind when you are asked what a healthy breakfast is? Fruit and yoghurt? Muesli? Avocado toast? Wholegrain cereal? I get so frustrated when I see these listed as ‘healthy’ breakfast options on a restaurant menu. These are far from the healthiest breakfast you can fuel your body with.
What do you feed yourself and your family have for breakfast? Cereal, which is full of sugar, artificial flavours and colourants? Or toast which is also full of sugary carbs (even whole-wheat) with sweetened peanut butter and jam?
Why are these breakfasts so bad?
If you break down your bowl or plate into the nutrients they contain, you will begin to understand why you get hungry before lunch and have energy crashes that no amount of coffee can solve.
What makes a healthy breakfast?
A healthy breakfast contains ideal quantities of macronutrients to fuel your body with sustained energy. There’s no point in eating something that will have you hungry again in 2 hours. If you’re eating a balanced meal you won’t get hungry for another 4-6 hours after breakfast.
Less Sugary Carbs
It should not be full of sugar and processed carbs which convert to sugar. It’s not healthy to spike your blood-sugar levels, especially not first thing in the morning.
Protein fuels your muscles and gives you sustained energy as it takes longer to digest than carbohydrates. High-quality protein sources are the perfect way to get your metabolism back into gear after you wake up.
However, over-consumption of protein also has negative effects and is a common mistake that people make. Excess protein is stored by the body as fat and it also puts a strain on the kidneys.
Breakfast should also contain healthy fibre to keep your gut healthy and provide essential nutrients to feed your brain and all the cells throughout your body.
Fibre is essential with every meal as it feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut which are essential in digesting your food and extracting the nutrients which are needed for the whole body.
The aim of healthy eating is to keep your entire body functioning at its best. Fat has a bad reputation but it’s actually essential in a healthy diet, even when trying to lose weight. They are highly beneficial.
- Eating fat doesn’t make your body store fat.
- Low-fat foods are misleading. They are often high in sugar. Eating sugar is responsible for fat storage. When there is excess sugar the body can’t use it all so it stores it as fat in case it needs it another time.
- Fats take longer to digest as they are more complex. This leaves you fuller for longer and keeps you sustained with energy.
- Increasing consumption of healthy fats improves insulin sensitivity which makes your body more effective at weight loss and steers away diabetes.
- Your brain is made out of 60% fat. Healthy fats keep your brain switched on and are also very good for the nervous system.
- Fats are needed in order for the body to absorb certain vitamins such as A, D, E, K as well as calcium.
- Omega 3 oils are anti-inflammatory and help to keep skins, hair, nails and bones healthy
- Avoid unhealthy fats that cause inflammation such as transfats and an excess of omega 6 fats.
And the Healthiest Breakfast is…
Forget your oats, forget your wholewheat toast with almond butter, forget your big fry-ups. The most efficient way to get all your nutrients in at the start of the day is with a supercharged smoothie. It’s also the quickest and most convenient breakfast to make while you’re half asleep and running late.
Now when I say supercharged smoothies, these are not fruit-based smoothies that taste more like dessert than breakfast. They are super delicious but they are completely balanced with all the nutrients your body wants. And I’m going to teach you how to make one in 5 minutes per day.
Best Smoothie Ingredients:
Collagen protein is the new black. And with all its benefits, it’s not going anywhere.
Whey protein is used commonly but it is made from dairy which is one of the most common foods that people are sensitive to.
Collagen is the most abundant type of protein in your body. Natural production of collagen declines as we age but it’s important for repairing damaged cells and replacing dead cells. We can get a lot of benefits from collagen supplementation which increase longevity. Collagen is great for skin, muscle growth, metabolism, joints and gut health to name a few perks.
Chia seeds are high in omega-3 oils, they contain protein and almost all the carbohydrates present in them are fibre. To get the full benefit, the membrane needs to be broken for them to be used by the digestive system. This is either done by soaking them in liquid, so that they swell and open up or if they get broken up such as when you blend them up in a smoothie. Otherwise, they’re just passing through your system without your body being able to utilise all the benefits.
MCT oil is a medium chain triglyceride, mostly derived from coconut oil. You can’t ignore the benefits such as increased energy levels, clears brain-fog, lowers fat storage in the body, helps the quality of digestion, naturally antifungal and antibacterial, and balances hormones.
We don’t get nearly enough vegetable in our diets, especially our leafy greens. Instead of crunching on salads, you can add them into your smoothie so that you are getting all the benefits in first thing in the morning.
They are a superb source of fibre to fill you up as well as feed your healthy gut microbes. They’re rich in antioxidants and minerals. And they also keep your metabolism going at an optimal rate. Add 2-3 servings into your smoothie.
Best sources to add to your smoothie are:
- Swiss chard
- Collard greens
I’ve saved fruit for last to wipe out the misconception of smoothies being fruit-based. Not all fruit is equal and you definitely don’t need more than one serving per smoothie. Stick to fruits that offer the best nutritional value and are not too high in sugar.
Blueberries are the king of fruits. They are low in sugar but high in antioxidants, fibre, vitamin C, vitamin K and manganese. They taste great too!
Use this as a guide when adding fruit to your smoothie:
That is a great base for your breakfast smoothie but if you want to supercharge it add any (or all) of these as well:
L-glutamine is an important amino acid that most of us don’t get enough of in our diets. It’s essential in keeping the gut healthy, it keeps the gut lining strong and can alleviate digestive problems. It also helps to keep sugar and carb cravings at bay.
Cacao is the raw form of cacao beans from the cacao tree. Because it hasn’t been roasted at high temperatures is still contains living enzymes. Rich in antioxidants, iron, magnesium and calcium as well as naturally free from sugar. Naturally elevates moods and depression. Comes in powdered form or cacao nibs (crushed seeds) which add an awesome crunchiness to the smoothie.
Maca Root Powder
Maca comes from a plant in the same vegetable group as cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. But don’t let that put you off. It comes in a powdered form and has a malty taste. It’s known to naturally balance hormones, improves libido, lowers cortisol (the stress hormone) and it boosts energy levels too.
Pumpkin seeds are often forgotten, but they hold many health benefits. They are high in zinc, which females are often deficient in, loaded with antioxidants, help stabilise blood sugar and they’re also great for gut health. Best to buy them raw to get the most benefits.
Flaxseeds (or linseeds) are another great source of healthy omega-3 oil. Instead of using seeds, you can also just buy the oil. It’s not the kind of oil that you would cook with but it’s great to supplement in smoothies as you can’t taste it.
Add an extra kick of protein to your smoothie with raw almonds or raw unsweetened almond butter if you prefer. Another food rich in antioxidants and also vitamin E (healthy skin), riboflavin (brain functioning), manganese and magnesium.
Kefir is one of the most probiotic-rich foods you can consume. It’s a fermented drink made traditionally with cow’s milk and kefir grains. When raw milk is used, the benefits are so great that even people who are lactose intolerant can safely consume it and reap the benefits. Not only is it incredible for gut health, but it also boosts the immune system, heals skin and alleviates allergies. Its probiotic properties are far superior to any yoghurt.
Any blender will do but my preferred machine is the NutriBullet. It makes breakfast even simpler to make because you use fewer dishes and just pop a lid on and you’re good to run out the door.