WAKE UP TO THE VALUE OF A GOOD BREAKFAST
Over the many years that I have worked with people, advising them on exercise and health, I’ve realised that one of the biggest mistakes many people make is not starting the day with a good, nutritious breakfast.
A cup of strong coffee on the hop or a snack at 10am are not breakfast. Wolfing down something non-nutritious usually leaves you feeling like you never woke up for the day. Many clients who skip what is often called the most important meal of the day often find themselves feeling ‘foggy’ or shaky and get through the day with a total lack of energy.
This is bad enough if you are simply expecting to cope with a stressful day but even worse if you expect your body to start the day with an hour long rigorous exercise routine!
MORNING MUNCHIES AND METABOLISM
You’ve heard that saying “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper”. Well, Adelle Davis, the author of this quote wasn’t wrong. Even in this day of dieticians recommending intermittent fasting and eating only when you are hungry, there are still many facts supporting the belief that breakfast is an important start to your day.
It makes sense that you would want to eat breakfast soon after waking up to get your ‘motor running’ as early as possible. Even though, over the years, there has been considerable discussion over whether or not a breakfast gets your metabolism started for the day, there is some scientific evidence to support that what you might have thought was an old wives’ tale just might be true.
Probably the best way to look at the role that breakfast plays is to realise that it is the meal that quite literally breaks a fast. We have usually been sleeping for six to eight hours prior to tucking into our scrambled eggs.
On waking, our bodies need to be replenished. You need to eat to level up your blood sugar. Your brain and muscles need energy to get moving.
There are studies that have demonstrated that breakfast also helps with concentration and information retention. Because research has demonstrated that school children who walk long distances to schools on empty tummies do not take in or remember important information during classes, large corporates such as Game have invested millions into providing kitchens for non-fee paying schools so that youngsters can eat before the school day begins.
Fuelling up before heading out to the office is no different.
WEIGHING UP THE BENEFITS OF BREAKFAST
From a purely nutritional point of view, a good breakfast is a great way of starting the day with plenty of vitamins, protein, fibre and wholegrains in your system.
We go back to breakfasting like a king when your busy body can use up the energy provided and eating dinner like a pauper rather than taking in extra calories that your body will simply store while you snooze.
By a good breakfast, I don’t mean a greasy fry up but rather well chosen meals that you not only enjoy but which are good for you.
One of the good things that breakfast also does is enable you to balance how you eat for the rest of the day.
If you are not ravenous by mid-morning, chances are there won’t be a mad flurry to grab anything or everything just because its 10am or later and now you are just ‘starving’. Instead, a healthy snack like a piece of fruit should be sufficient until you take a lunch break.
Eating well and regularly and sticking to portion control rather than a feast or famine approach not only ensures that you have higher and consistent energy levels as your body has the necessary ‘fuel’ to work at its best but also helps to balance our moods.
I would like to quote Roxanne Shephard of Foxie Fit on breakfast in her article in Outandabout.africa titled ‘Tis the season to be merry and to indulge without the bulge’. “Start everyday on a good footing. Starting your day this way, sets you up to stay on track for the rest of the day and is a precursor to not overeating during the remainder of the day.”
Which brings us to the ever present subject of weight.
Let’s be honest here, eating breakfast is certainly not going to suddenly make you put on weight or lose it. Again, it’s not the meal itself but the CHOICES we make about what to eat that are the deciding factors. For some, breakfast is a good time to get some necessary protein as carbohydrates are a near certainty for lunch. For others, its fruit and yoghurt.
The important thing to remember is that we are all individuals. Some people can go for a five kilometre run, get home and then eat breakfast while others need to eat soon after waking up otherwise they get shaky and ‘hangry’.
If you have a strenuous early morning workout regime in place and find that waking up and exercising comes first as eating makes you feel nauseous whilst exercising, then try to wake up a bit earlier and have a small, easy to digest snack like a banana or a light smoothie before working out.
I have noticed a vast difference between clients who eat breakfast and those who don’t. The clients who hadn’t eaten breakfast have less energy, battle to get into the workout, feel dizzy and even a bit ill at times, whereas, those who arrive for exercise after having eaten something cope far better.
A NEW START TO THE DAY
In short, do some reading and gather some facts and then listen to your body and do what’s best for you.
Many of those who have ordinarily hit the ground running with just a cup of black coffee might now take the time and opportunity to be kinder to their bodies. But remember that we are all creatures of habit and you might need to get your body used to eating breakfast again.
Start small and light with a fruit, then add some yoghurt, a smoothie, wholegrain toast and peanut butter, oats, a boiled egg or an omelette as you go. There are so many options. Again, remember this is not just about getting calories in to start your day., The key is getting quality calories that nourish your body as this is what makes the difference to how your body responds.
Last but not least, if you are part of a family, try to take a little time out to sit down and eat together. Psychology aside, good breakfast eaters tend to be those who shared breakfast with their families during childhood. Those who tend to short change their bodies and start the day in full stress mode without something good to eat are often those whose families were all running in opposite directions at the start to the day.
As a parent, teach your children good eating habits that will last a lifetime. As an adult, it is not too late to start your day the healthy way.