Always eating breakfast has long been promoted as a healthy habit. Social media abounds with #healthybreakfast options; everything from smoothies to sweet potato “toast”. Healthy people eat a good breakfast is the message, loud and clear.
But can we be sure about this? And what happens when you throw exercise into the mix? Should we eat before or after a workout? Recent research suggests the answers are not so clear.
Nutrition experts have generally always recommended breakfast – it’s even in some official healthy eating guidelines around the world. Previous research had suggested healthier people tended to eat it – breakfast eaters have been found to be healthier overall and to weigh less. The thinking was that people who skip breakfast end up over-compensating later in the day and eating more, or reaching for unhealthy foods to fill the gap.
However, new studies have thrown up some discussion on breakfast’s image as “the most important meal of the day”. A review published in the British Medical Journal
– looking in particular at weight control – found people who ate breakfast ate more calories overall and were slightly heavier than those who didn’t eat breakfast – suggesting, researchers said, that breakfast might not be a good strategy for weight loss. This mirrors other research which has found energy intake tends to be a bit higher overall on days when breakfast is consumed.
In a great breakfast you’ll want to get in some protein and carbohydrate – ideally some high fiber carbs. If you’re a cereal person, go for the “wholest” of whole-grain versions – mueslis and granolas with whole-grain oats, for example, and those full of seeds and nuts, rather than the super-processed cereals. Look for high fiber and low sugar. Add some milk and yoghurt for protein and get a serving of fruit in, and you’ll be off to a good start. Or go for wholegrain toast, eggs or tofu and vegetables.
Whenever you break your fast, make it count by including the best possible fuel.
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