What to Eat for Breakfast to Stay Full to Avoid a Snack Binge

Photo credit: REDA&CO - Getty Images
Photo credit: REDA&CO - Getty Images

From Women's Health

Remember when your mum used to boot you out of bed bright and early because ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’? She had a point.

But if like us, you've made it to your mid-twenties and still aren't sure on what to eat for breakfast then stick with us.

Eating breakfast has been linked with a lower risk of obesity and heart disease and higher levels of physical activity, while skipping it can be indicative of a high-stress lifestyle and a tendency to eat on the run.

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What to eat for breakfast

The clue is in the name. Following an overnight fast, your glycogen (stored glucose) levels are depleted. This can affect brain function, which is why breaking the fast improves memory, at least in the short term. Plus, research suggests consuming a bigger chunk of your calories earlier in the day (versus late at night) may benefit your metabolic health.

As for the contents of your first meal, comparing the effects of different breakfasts is complicated, so what you should be eating largely depends on the outcome you’re after, be that boosted brain function, managing appetite or fuelling a workout.

What you should be eating in the morning

Let’s start with killing it in the morning meeting. Still kicking off your day with a bright box adorned with a cartoon creature? Readily available carbs (yes, a bowl of sugary cereal, but also white toast topped with jam and anything from the pastry basket) will set you up to fail. Beyond the glucose, there’s little else to sustain you.

The recommended healthy breakfast menu

For optimal mental bandwidth, the consensus is for a balance of protein and carbs. Think: fruit plus Greek yoghurt or eggs on wholegrain toast.

If, come said meeting, your synapses are firing but your stomach is growling, you may be starting your day with the wrong sort of carb – the type you’re after is slow-release. In one study, satiety was greater and calorie intake at lunch was lower after subjects consumed a breakfast of oats compared with cornflakes*.

The easy healthy breakfast recipes

The holy grail? Wholegrain and high-fibre carbs, like rye bread, rolled oats and buckwheat.

Exercising first thing? The best breakfast depends on the workout. To fuel a high-intensity sesh or an endurance activity, think slow-release carbs with a protein or fat (porridge plus PB or eggs on toast), but don’t eat right before exercising – a couple of hours pre-workout is ideal to avoid gut distress.

Quick healthy breakfast ideas

Short on time? A banana an hour before will work.

If you’re fuelling for a strength session, your workout will be shorter, so a small carb-rich snack – a piece of fruit or slice of wholegrain toast – is sufficient.

The key is to consume 20-25g protein (a whey shake, an omelette, tofu scramble) post-workout to ensure muscle recovery. A healthy breakfast is about nutrition that aligns with your goals.

Mix up your shakes with some fruit and veg

A meal containing fibre-rich carbs, protein for satiety and fruit or veg seems smart. As to what that looks like, keep the nutrients coming from a range of sources (oats and yoghurt one day, salmon and wholegrain toast the next) to ensure you’re getting enough diversity.

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