Monday, 5 November 2012

Breakfast of champions

I love answering reader questions and here's a great one on breakfasts:

'I have a busy couple of weeks ahead of me and need a really substantial breakfast to help me make it through the day. Can you make some suggestions that I can pick up from my local supermarket or buy from my very traditional work canteen.'

Firstly gold star for recognizing the importance of breakfast, particularly when you know you're going to be facing a busy day ahead. A good breakfast can set you up for the day on an even keel whilst skipping breakfast or having a sugary option can set you off on a blood sugar rollercoaster that will leave you feeling stressed and grouchy.

As it happens nutritionist and personal trainer, Alex Ravenscroft, has done a good job of answering this question in an article for sheerluxe this week: 

It's worth a read, but I'm not going to be lazy and will still answer this myself:

The key to any meal being filling and keeping you sustained is the PFF combo. This isn't some government financing vehicle or some text speak, no it's the winning combo of Protein, Fats and Fibre.

All three slow down digestion, releasing energy slowly and keeping you feeling full for longer so you don't need to waste precious time hunting for snacks.

These should be the building blocks of your breakfast. Carbs aren't a definite pre-requisite in this formula, but I'd suggest some fruit as a minimum.

1. Protein:
Any protein will keep you feeling full but to keep this healthy you should avoid fatty cuts of meat - no sausages or bacon I'm afraid.
Good options are:
Natural yoghurt - soy if you're dairy free
Fish - depending on how traditional it is your canteen may sell kippers, but if not smoked salmon, salmon flakes and smoked mackeral are available in most city supermarkets
Eggs - preferably poached - most canteens will poach your eggs if you ask nicely (smiling helps!)
Nuts and seeds, don't underestimate the protein power of nuts and seeds. For breakfast today I had a rice homemade powerbar made mainly of almond flour and it kept me going til lunch.
Pulses - but not baked beans, a popular breakfast food but they are sadly full of added sugar. You can make your own sugar free baked beans at home but that is not very practical, so hummous or a ready made bean salad (check in the lunch chiller cabinet) are the best bean options.
Protein powder - I keep a pot at work and if all else fails shake it into a fruit smoothie, go for unflavoured whey or rice protein

2. Fats
Fats slow stomach emptying so are the secret to feeling full and the absence of them is why diet food can be so unsatisfying.
However unhealthy saturated or heat damaged fats are all bad for you, so this isn't an excuse for some bacon fried in butter. Instead you want some healthy plant fats or fish oils, top breakfast fats are. Nuts, seeds, oily fish as well as avocados and olives are all good breakfast fats.

3. Fibre
Fibre is key in reducing the glycemic index of any food and also in regulating your digestion and helping detoxification so an all round winner.
Luckily adding fibre in your breakfast is easy:
- choose wholegrains, oats, rye, wholewheat are all naturally rich in fibre. Muesli, wholegrain toast, rye bread, oatcakes are all good options.
- fruit and veg are rich in fibre, just add an apple and you're set for fibre content
- nuts and seeds score the triple being rich in protein, fats and fibre. Keep a pot of mixed seeds and another of chopped nuts in your desk and add liberally to your breakfast.

There are infinite combinations but here's some examples of PFF power breakfasts:

Rolled oat muesli with extra chopped nuts to boost the protein content and some fresh berries.

Wholemeal sourdough bread or rye bread (bring into work if the canteen doesn't stock it) toasted and topped with poached eggs or smoked mackerel and grilled tomatoes.

Hummous and oatcakes, with an apple and a palmful of almonds.

Fresh fruit salad topped with natural yoghurt and chopped hazelnuts.

Mushroom and pepper omelette with smoked salmon strips and an apple, buy the smoked salmon on the way in if it's not available at work.

Avocado and salmon wholemeal sandwich with a piece of fruit - a packed brekkie to make at home and take in with you.

High fibre low-sugar cereal, such as shredded wheat, topped with a chopped banana and a generous serving of seed mix (a mix of sunflower, pumpkin and flax seeds in available in most supermarkets).

Fruit smoothie (bought on way in) with 1 tbsp added protein powder shaken in and a small bag of mixed nuts.

Oatcakes topped with smoked salmon flakes and a fresh fruit salad.

If you're feeling organised make some Paleo bread (recipe from, which is rich in fibre, protein and essential fats, freeze it in pairs of slices, take to work, toast and serve with your favourite low-sugar toppings (natural nut butter, st dalfour jam, sliced banana etc).

No comments:

Post a Comment