How to break­fast like a cham­pion

Ev­ery­day Ath­lete

Sunday Herald Life - - MIND & BODY - Pa­trick O’Brien

THESE days ev­ery­one seems to have an opin­ion on nu­tri­tion, es­pe­cially when it comes to break­fast. Once re­ferred to as the most im­por­tant meal of the day, “break­fast” is now the sub­ject of in­tense sci­en­tific scru­tiny. In the bit­terly di­vided world of break­fast eti­quette there seem to be two types of peo­ple – those who skip break­fast, and those who don’t.

But fast-break­ing has to hap­pen at some stage which, by con­ven­tion, is break fast … So you can choose to starve or su­per­charge your break-fast.

How your first meal af­fects your body

What you eat de­pends on your me­tab­o­lism and your goals. A pro­fes­sional ath­lete will have dif­fer­ent nu­tri­tional needs from your av­er­age seden­tary per­son. Re­search shows that eat­ing a nu­tri­tious break­fast kick-starts di­ges­tion and fires up me­tab­o­lism, as well as help­ing reg­u­late blood sugar lev­els. Eat­ing break­fast may also de­fend against the “See Food” diet (I see food, I eat it). Af­ter all, what you eat in the morn­ing can de­ter­mine your hunger lev­els for the rest of the day. There can be other is­sues at play but 90 per cent of the time, the best plan is to make sure that you have a nu­tri­ent-dense break­fast (nu­tri­ent de­fi­ciency leads to chronic overeat­ing).

How to su­per­charge your break­fast

Healthy fats should be the foun­da­tion of any healthy break­fast. They play an im­por­tant role in help­ing our bod­ies to flour­ish. Di­etary fats have been found to re­duce in­sulin re­sis­tance, in­flam­ma­tion and help reg­u­late hor­mones, which are vi­tal for sus­tain­ing our en­ergy lev­els. Omega 3 is clin­i­cally proven to help our cell mem­branes. It can also help pre­vent heart dis­ease, im­prove your vi­sion and com­bat de­pres­sion. Omega 3 is less avail­able in most peo­ple’s ev­ery­day diet so break­fast is a great time to in­sure we are tak­ing in these essential fats.

Good Omega 3 sources in­clude ava­cado, co­conut, eggs, wild salmon, nuts and seeds (es­pe­cially chia and flax seeds), fish oil.

Nour­ish your mi­cro­biome

The mi­cro­biome is a col­lec­tion of or­gan­isms that live in the gut (gas­troin­testi­nal tract). It’s a bit like a hu­man eco-sys­tem in our bod­ies. These or­gan­isms play a vi­tal role in the body and af­fect ev­ery­thing from age­ing to mood. To pos­i­tively shape your mi­cro­biome you need to eat a bal­anced diet, so try adding some fermented foods like yo­ghurt, pick­les and sauer­kraut, which are high in nat­u­ral pro­bi­otic cul­tures. Pro­bi­otic sup­ple­ments can also help.

Vi­ta­mins and min­er­als

These per­form hun­dreds of roles in the body. They help strengthen bones, heal wounds, and bol­ster your im­mune sys­tem. They also con­vert food into en­ergy, and re­pair cel­lu­lar dam­age and so much more. A study in the 2011 Jour­nal Of Nu­tri­tion Re­search And Prac­tice found that peo­ple who reg­u­larly ate break­fast lacked fewer nu­tri­ents than those who rarely ate break­fast. So load up on foods rich in vi­ta­mins and min­er­als at break­fast time.

Good sources in­clude leafy greens, fermented veg­eta­bles, sea veg­eta­bles, good-qual­ity greens sup­ple­ments.


Make sure you are get­ting enough fi­bre in your break­fast. Ac­cord­ing to a 1999 study in The In­ter­na­tional Jour­nal Of Food Sci­ences And Nu­tri­tion, peo­ple who eat a high-fi­bre, low-carb diet have more sus­tained en­ergy through­out the day. Good sources in­clude veg­eta­bles, flax seeds, chia seeds, av­o­cado and other lower-GI fruits like berries.


Make sure your break­fast con­tains ad­e­quate pro­tein. Re­search shows that con­sum­ing 20g of pro­tein for break­fast is as­so­ci­ated with ap­petite con­trol and fat loss. Good sources in­clude eggs, nuts and seeds, meat, fish and veg­eta­bles.


De­spite what ev­ery­one says, carbs are not the enemy. If you are a high-level ath­lete you may need more carbs than the av­er­age per­son. Sources in­clude oat­meal, sweet potato and brown rice.

When should I eat break­fast?

Re­search sug­gests that changing the tim­ing of your break­fast makes no dif­fer­ence when it comes to weight-loss. How­ever peo­ple who don’t eat break­fast have a ten­dency to overeat. You don’t need to have break­fast first thing upon wak­ing up. So, in­stead of eat­ing break­fast at 7am, why not push it back and eat at a dif­fer­ent time to in­crease the length of time you are in a fasted state, which has lots of ben­e­fits. Just make sure that when you do break your fast you eat a su­per-charged break­fast.

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