Is pizza the best start to the day? Why everything you thought about breakfast is wrong

·5-min read
Pizza for breakfast? Why not! Cheerful couple in pajamas eating pizza at home, portrait.
Pizza for breakfast? They seem happy about it. (Getty Images)

The Great Return to Office has begun - and that means, rather than drifting through the house eating a biscuit here and a piece of toast there in between Zoom calls, breakfast once again needs to be a substantial meal, to keep you going all morning - or at least till snack-time.

The problem is, it's hard to know what's genuinely good for you and what's a box of ultra-processed empty calories marketed at busy households. 

Some cereals are perfectly fine - low-sugar, wholegrain and low GI to give you energy for longer. Others, however, are slightly less nutritious than a packet of chocolate biscuits. Granola looks immensely fibrous and healthy, but a bowlful of nuts, seeds and honey can pack more calories than a multipack of crisps.

Toasts of dark bread with avocado slices, red tomatoes, fried egg and microgreen. Top view with pink background.
Avo toast with egg and tomatoes is a winner - but are eggs good or bad this week? (Getty Images)

White toast has fallen foul of nutritionists due to its high carb load (and the fact that we tend to slather it with butter and jam) while eggs fall in out out of favour depending on whether the latest study has found they're full of bad cholesterol or a nutrition bomb we can't live without. No wonder we're confused.

Meanwhile, the traditional Full English is now as old-fashioned as a top hat and monocle, as it's full of processed meat and fat, despite its high protein quotient.

That looks about the right amount for one... (Getty Images)
That looks about the right amount for one... (Getty Images)

Read more: Skipping breakfast and snacking late at night could impact weight loss, new research suggests

Porridge is still considered a good bet- but is dairy milk OK, or should you make it with plant milk - or even water, for full the Oliver Twist gruel experience? Or in fact, are we doing breakfast all wrong, and should we be eating other foods entirely? 

New York nutritionist Chelsey Amer made headlines this week, when she told America's ABC news, "Surprisingly, pizza can be a more balanced breakfast option than many sugar-filled breakfast cereals."

She went on to clarify that this wasn't a recommendation - but added that while pizza is high-calorie, it provides a decent balance of carbs, protein and fat to keep you going. If you don't feel too good about laying into a 12" meat feast before the morning meeting, however, what should you be eating?

Businessman eating a sandwich on the go.
This is a stressful breakfast and appears to be high-carb, too. (Getty Images)

James Bickerstaff, qualified Nutrition Coach Trainer from OriGym Centre of Excellence, says, "The main thing you have to consider when fuelling your body for the morning is ensuring your breakfast is balanced and healthy. This requires you to incorporate all the food groups: fruit/veg, grains, dairy, complex carbohydrates and protein.

"Sugar crashes plague many of us following breakfast, making us tired, hungry and more likely to overeat at lunch," he adds. "Breakfast pastries are an obvious culprit, but staples such as milk and fruit juice have also been known to cause sugar crashes when consumed on their own."

Watch: Breakfast recipes: Egg muffins

Balance is the key, agrees Sarah Campus, nutrionist for www.ldnmumsfitness.com.

"Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day as it sets up your metabolism for the day, it balances your blood sugar levels and also helps with balancing your hormones and mood."

The best breakfast, she say, "contains a balance of protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats and vitamins. Aim for foods that will give you a slow release of energy and keep you fuller for longer."

Campus recommends whole grains such as seeded bread and bagels, sourdough, and hot or cold whole-grain cereals such as porridge. 

Oatmeal porridge with fresh berries, raspberry and blueberry. Closeup view, top view. Healthy eating, healthy breakfast, nutrition concept
This is a good bet. Though personally, a bit of cream wouldn't hurt. (Getty Images)

Read more: One in five under 30s have never eaten a fry-up

"Consider lean protein, such as eggs, lean meat, legumes and nuts," she adds. "Dairy such as milk, plant milk, or yoghurt - but go for the full fat options, as low fat options contain processed substitutes and sweeteners."

Always aim to pack in the fruits and vegetables in the morning too, she says. She suggests "porridge with nuts and seeds and nut butter, eggs on toast with tomatoes and spinach, yoghurt with nuts and seeds and oats, or breakfast smoothies."

Traditional Full English Breakfast with Eggs, Bacon, Sausage, and Baked Beans
So tasty. Yet so old-fashioned. (Getty Images)

And to avoid? "Stay away from processed high-sugar cereals, waffles, high salt, and processed protein like sausages."

So yes, you could eat pizza for breakfast, but only if it's sourdough, thin-based and loaded with tomato, eggs and spinach. One Florentina, coming right up.

What shall I eat?

James Bickerstaff recommends:

  • Overnight oats - Choose a grain such as oatmeal or porridge oats, combined with a fruit of your choice, flax seeds and the all-important protein rich yoghurt.

  • Peanut butter and Banana Toast: Choose whole wheat/grain alternatives for the bread.

  • Avocado Toast - Once again pair whole grain/wheat toast with pesto, smashed avocado, tomatoes and a free range egg.

  • Whole wheat crepes and plain yogurt that you can mix with honey and a fruit of your choice.

Watch: Artsy toast: Japanese zen garden

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