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Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day?

Breakfast – that first meal of the day you literally break your overnight fast on – is definitely a meal I get asked a lot about. 

If you’ve ever wondered about any of the following Q’s, this blog post is for you:

“What’s the best food to eat for breakfast?”

“What time should I eat breakfast?”

“If I’m exercising on a morning, should I eat before?”

“After my morning workout I’m not usually hungry, so I grab a coffee and eat something mid morning once I get to work – is that ok?”

“Is breakfast the most important meal of the day?”

Now, as a naturopath and personal trainer, I’ve changed my view on breakfast a little bit over the past few years as I’ve noticed different patterns in the way my clients respond to eating breakfast, and also as I’ve read more research – especially more recent studies into women’s health and the effects on hormones – I’ve discovered just how important breakfast is.  

There is no other way to say this: If you’re a woman – you NEED to eat breakfast

Even if you are not particularly hungry on a morning, you need to eat. It can be something small and light, but make sure it has some protein in it. 

As a side note – if you’re a man and you’re reading this – you don’t actually need to eat breakfast. But for the sake of this blog post, I’m focusing on women’s health, so you may need to search elsewhere for the reasons behind that statement 🙂

Back to women – on a morning, your body naturally wakes up with a spike in cortisol (your stress hormone). Eating breakfast helps to stop cortisol spiking too high – which in my personal opinion, is super important, especially on a morning so that you start your day off right. 

Mornings tend to be a busy time – whether you’re rushing to get dressed and race out the door to get to work on time, running to a gym class before the rest of your (busy) day begins, or hurriedly getting kids ready to drop them off on time for daycare or school – mornings are always CRAZY times. 

Understandably, if you’re not someone who wakes up feeling hungry, a quick coffee or tea seems like the only option to get you through your morning. However, if you make time for breakfast, you signal to your body that you’re safe (and your cortisol levels can come down slightly) and ready to take on your day (as your tummy is provided with fuel to help you). 

What’s the best food to eat for breakfast?

While marketers of breakfast cereals have successfully promoted breakfast as the most important meal of the day – cereals high in sugar and low in protein, are not what your body craves first thing in the morning. Rather, a breakfast that’s high in protein, has a decent amount of carbohydrate and some good fat, is ideal.

It’s not always easy, but aiming for around 20g of protein for breakfast is a great way to start your day!

My top 3 breakfast ideas:

  1. Eggs with toast – 2 eggs contain around 12g of protein, add some cheese or toasted seeds/nuts (easy if you’re eating a seeded bread) and you’ll be almost at 20g.
  2. A smoothie with protein powder – banana, berries, almond milk, a handful of nuts and a serve of protein powder is a quick and easy way to get a good amount of protein in.
  3. My Paleo N’Oats (see the recipe at the end of this post) – this one is excellent if you have zero time on a morning as you prep it the night before and have it ready for you in the fridge!

What about if you exercise first thing in the morning?

As a woman, eating before you exercise is essential for healthy hormones. Now, what you eat depends where you are in your menstrual cycle – recent research is showing that in the first half of your cycle (from when you get your period until when you ovulate), eating some type of carbohydrate before exercise such as a banana or a date is important. If you’re in the second half of your cycle (from ovulation until your next period), you should be focusing on eating protein and also ensuring that you’re well hydrated. These simple tips help your body respond best to exercise and help keep your hormones happy and healthy. 

Then – after exercise is when you should be eating your breakfast. Exercise depletes glycogen stores, and eating a meal with carbohydrates, protein and fat within half an hour of finishing your workout will help replenish your glycogen stores, which in turn signals to your body that it is safe and can effectively repair from your workout and provide you with the energy you need to get through your day.

So – if you’re someone who hasn’t been so keen on eating breakfast in the past, I encourage you to spend the next 7 days focusing on breakfast and see how it makes you feel the rest of the day. To help get you started, I’m giving you a recipe for Paleo N’Oats – they’re gluten free and can easily be made the night before and stored in the fridge for a quick and delicious breakfast on the go. Plus, one serve contains 21g of protein, so you don’t even need to do any calculations!

Click here if you’d like to download the recipe and I’d love to know how eating breakfast has helped you!

To healthy breakfasts and feeling good,

Dina x