Do you find it hard to think of a nutritious breakfast when you are late for work? And you have run out of healthy breakfast ideas?
We’ll show you how to harness your hormones and eat the perfect breakfast for an energised, craving-free day.
Scroll down to see our fantastic breakfast recipes, ideal for:
- The Busy Person who Isn’t Into Breakfast
- The Quick Satisfaction Person, and
- The Breakfast on the Go Person
PROBLEMS WITH BREAKFAST
Breakfast can be full of problems:
- Skipping breakfast all together to save time or calories
- Lack of variety – always the same old thing: oats, cornflakes or other nutrient-poor breakfast cereals
- Hidden enemies – read the small print about the nutritional values of breakfast cereals and other packaged foods. There are often hidden sugars and processed ingredients.
Eating like this can keep you bloated, tired and hungry.
THE PERFECT BREAKFAST
The perfect breakfasts ticks these boxes:
- contains protein
- is low in sugar
- contain a little healthy fat (just like we do at DM).
What and when you eat is important for setting your blood-sugar pattern for the rest of the day.
If you eat something that is whole grain/unprocessed carbs and has some fat and protein to it, your blood sugar is going to rise slowly and go down slowly.
That is the ideal scenario.
WHY EAT PROTEIN AT BREAKFAST?
If you eat a carb loaded breakfast, your body will demand more and more carbs.
Eating protein for breakfast will set your blood sugar to a healthy level for the rest of the day.
BREAKFAST-TIME HORMONE LEVELS
Here’s what happens in the morning:
- The stress hormone cortisol rises gradually during the night and reaches its peak in the morning. This cortisol in the morning actually helps you to burn fat.
- Ghrelin, the hunger hormone, also peaks in the morning to make you hungry.Ghrelin stimulates another hormone….
- Growth hormone which makes the body release fat to be burned as fuel and decreases the breakdown of protein for use as fuel. Growth hormone levels peak around 2 hours after waking.
So what happens if you eat carbs instead of protein?
As you know, carbs are the most easily used fuel for your body. If carb choice and timing is not optimal, your body will always crave for more… so you eat more… and your will use these easy-available carbs as fuel – instead of using up fat stores.
The blood sugar merry-go-round:
This merry go round leaves your body crying out for more CARBS…
And that’s exactly what happens when you eat a traditional western breakfast such as:
- White bread with jam, marmalade or chocolate spread
- Processed (quick) oats
- Sweetened muesli
- Sweet fruits
- Sweet juices
- Sweetened yoghurt
- Simple cereals like cornflakes, rice bubbles and cocoa pops.
THERE ARE CARBS, AND THEN THERE ARE CARBS.
On the one hand we have the healthy carbs. These include green vegetables andstarchy carbs like sweet potatoes, pumpkin.
Then we have the high glycemic index carbs, the really unhealthy carbs like white flour (bread) and pasta and white rice, sugary cereals, sweetened milk or fruit shakes, all of which cause a spike in blood sugar.
BREAKFAST ACROSS THE WORLD
There has been a rise of packaged breakfast cereals where the content is so processed, that the packaging has more nutritional value than the cereal itself. We will write about this in a separate blog!
Countries including some Asian countries and Nordic countries do not have this traditional Western breakfast. Their populations also do not have a weight problem the way we have in the western world:
- Japan: Tofu, miso soup, fish, mushrooms
- Nordic countries: crisp rye bread/salmon/eggs
- Asian countries: Breakfast is often the same as lunch: soups/meat/vegetable
Only here in the West have we adopted processed foods and a sweet breakfast.
HEALTHY BREAKFAST FOODS WITH PROTEIN
Now try protein for breakfast: that will take the body much longer to break down, insulin will be released slowly and you will not feel hungry for a long time. You will just feel energized and very satiated.
Here at Downsize Me, we show you how to eat and prepare healthy quick breakfasts that help you feel energized and satisfied.
Minimise and balance carbohydrates in your first meal of the morning. And if you are not trying to lose weight, you can introduce healthy carbs later in the day.
A Word on High protein, Calcium and Vitamin D in metabolism
Charle’s Poliquin’s research says that in a high protein breakfast is good for optimal body composition. Also, Vitamin D and calcium play a role in fat burning, thermogenesis and overall food intake.
He showed that more fat-burning took place and hunger was suppressed by greater vitamin D and calcium in the breakfast. The high calcium and vitamin D group ate about 320 calories less than the low calcium and vitamin D group.
Protein from meat or fish contains a better amino acid profile than plant-based proteins such as beans and seeds.
A breakfast containing a little animal protein will also support neurotransmitter production so that you will feel energized during the day.
I’M TOO BUSY FOR BREAKFAST!
Many people skip breakfast completely, either due to a lack of time or to save calories for lunch or dinner.
There can be several problems with this approach: if you completely skip breakfast and don’t eat regular meals well during the day, you may start storing fat.
The Poliquin research group says:
“Eating a small breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve circadian rhythms. A normal rhythm causes an increase in the hunger hormone ghrelin in the morning. Eating even a small breakfast is the ideal response for morning hunger, which can set your rhythm for the day.”
Some people skip breakfast, lunch, or even both, saving their calories for dinner.
The problem with this approach is that the metabolic rate naturally peaks at noon and slows after that. So the food you eat at night is far more likely to be stored as fat.
When you eat breakfast, even something small, your metabolism gets jump-started for the day. If you skip it, your metabolism will slow down and go into ‘conservation mode’ and this can lead to weight gain.
A typical example is Ramadan: research has shown that after all that fasting, weight is gained back quickly.
DO YOU HAVE TO EAT BREAKFAST?
Let’s be clear – you are your own boss. Nobody can force you to eat breakfast.
But the advantages far outweigh the downsides.
If you eat something containing protein for breakfast, you will fire up your metabolism and set a healthy rhythm for the day, boost energy and reduce hunger – and avoid the blood sugar merry-go-round.
Tasty low fat breakfast foods
- green vegetables
- green apples
- ricotta cheese
- low fat natural yoghurt
- crisp rye bread
- whole grain wraps
- turkey sandwich/wrap
- last night’s leftovers (meat/veg).
Downsize Me has made it easy for you with five best breakfast recipes to get you started.
5 HEALTHY BREAKFAST IDEAS
FOR THE BUSY PERSON WHO ISN’T INTO BREAKFAST:
A healthy shake might be the answer:
Green Berry Smoothie
- 1 cup blueberries or mixed berries
- 1 scoop protein powder
- 1 scoop greens powder
- 1 sachet probiotics
- I pinch stevia
- ¾ cups water
Blend all ingredients until smooth and serve immediately.
- ½ cup mixed berries (or a whole orange, peeled)
- 125 gr Ricotta or Cottage cheese extra light
- 1 pinch cinnamon
- 1 pinch stevia (optional)
Place peeled orange in a bowl and top with ricotta. Sprinkle over cinnamon and if desired, stevia.
FOR THE PERSON WHO NEEDS QUICK SATISFACTION
- 3 large egg whites, lightly beaten
- 1 tbsp hot water
- 100 gr mushrooms, sliced
- 50 gr spinach leaves
- 30 gr onions, diced
- 1 sprig parsley, finely chopped (optional)
Whisk egg whites until frothy, add 1 tbsp hot water and whisk through.
Heat non stick pan to medium, sauté mushroom and onion until lightly cooked.
Turn stove to low heat and add egg whites to pan.
Stir through spinach leaves just before the egg is set.
Serve immediately, garnish with fresh herbs if desires.
Quinoa and Goat’s Feta Patties (adapted from a Woolworth’s Fresh recipe)
- ¾ cup cooked quinoa
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp goat’s feta
- 1 cup chopped kale and fresh herbs
Mash egg and goats feta.
Add quinoa and herbs/kale.
Fry in a non-stick pan over medium heat, cooking both sides until brown.
Scrambled Eggs With Veggies
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup mixed vegetables
- 1 tbsp grated cheese
- fresh herbs to taste
Yes, it’s possible to make really good scrambled eggs in the microwave. And it’s easy!
Beat 2 eggs, throw in a microwave-safe dish, add 1 handful of your favourite veggies (cherry tomatoes and spinach leaves work well), and a sprinkle of cheese.
Zap the mixture for 30 seconds, stir, and cook another 30 seconds, or until eggs are solid.
FOR THE PERSON WHO NEEDS BREAKFAST ON THE GO
Breakfast burritos are a great, easy snack to keep on hand.
- 2 egg whites
- 1/4 cup black beans
- 2 tbsp salsa
- 2 tbsp shredded cheese
- 1 small whole-wheat tortilla.
Scramble the eggs with beans, salsa and cheese, then wrap in a tortilla, wrap in foil and go.
You can even make these in bulk and keep in the freezer.
Mini ham and cheese quinoa cups
This is a recipe that you can prepare beforehand and heat up. It is suitable as a snack to taken to the office.
- 2 cups cooked quinoa (about ¾ cup uncooked)
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg whites
- 1 cup zucchini, shredded
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- ½ cup diced ham
- ¼ cup parsley, chopped
- 2 tbsp parmesan cheese
- 2 green onions, sliced
- Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 170 C. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix.
Spray a mini muffin tin with non stick spray and spoon mixture to the top of each cup. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the edge of the cups are golden brown.
Let cool for at least 5 minutes before removing from the muffin tins.
To freeze: place baked cups on a baking sheet then freeze until solid and transfer to a freezer bag. Microwave for 20-40 seconds depending on how many youre reheating.
Now we’d love to know – what’s your best healthy breakfast idea? Let us know in the comments.