“Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper.” So the old adage goes but is it true? The theory behind it is that we should eat the bulk of our kilojoules at the start of the day so that we work them off over the course of the day. Similarly at the end of the day the idea is to keep the meal light as you’re then not moving around much to work it off. All sounds a good idea. But I don’t agree.
When we eat food the energy (measured as kilojoules) is not available straight away. We have to digest the food, absorb the nutrients and then direct them around the body to be either stored or used. Some nutrients will start to make an appearance in the bloodstream within about half an hour, but others will take several hours. We also use energy to perform these digestive process tasks. This directs blood flow to the gut, and away from other parts of the body. That’s why you find it difficult to exercise after a meal and often end up with a stitch or indigestion. We move much better on an empty stomach – but with full fuel tanks.
So eating a big breakfast just doesn’t make sense to me if you then want to feel energized for an active day. How about instead we top up our fuel tanks – as they are slightly depleted from the overnight fast – provide some slow release carbohydrate to fuel our morning activities and especially the brain, keep hunger pangs at bay and then fuel the day from our stored energy tanks. We top up again at lunch and then refuel the tanks at dinner. So long as the fuel we use matches the amount of fuel we consumed we end up in balance at the end of the day.
This way of thinking fits with our culture too. Most of us are rushing in the morning and have only a few minutes at best to sit down and enjoy breakfast. Many of us are eating breakfast on the run, while others skip breakfast altogether. Lunchtime can be equally time poor. Do you grab a sandwich at your desk? Or pull in at a fast food restaurant? Or just finish the kids leftovers? Not many of us sit down at the table for a leisurely meal in the middle of the day. In contrast dinner is the most likely time we are able to prepare a meal and sit down to enjoy it. We then can relax for the couple of hours afterwards while our body works at that digestive process and we refuel and repair the body overnight, ready for the next day. A system that makes sense to me and just might explain how our culture arose in the first place – it works.
So where does this leave breakfast? Despite all of the above, your choice of breakfast is crucial. The first thing is that something is better than nothing, at least as far as concentration throughout the morning is concerned. We also know that people who eat a healthy breakfast tend to eat fewer kilojoules through the rest of the day. Skip breakfast and you’ll only eat more, and probably make a less healthy choice, at lunch. Or you’ll find yourself succumbing to a muffin with your morning coffee. So the trick is not to eat so much that you feel full and lethargic through the morning, but something that tops up your blood glucose levels and stored glycogen (the body’s carb stores), provides some protein to help with satiety and help with weight control, fibre for a regular healthy gut and a good dose of nutrients including vitamin C and B group vitamins that we don’t store and therefore need everyday. So what meets the criteria?
The abundance of breakfast cereals on the market is no accident. They are quick, convenient and easy. The trouble is most are refined, made from flour with a host of undesirable additions. The result is they are digested rapidly, give a blood sugar surge and leave you feeling hungry again by mid morning. That’s what is different about Goodness Superfoods products. The CSIRO supergrain BARLEYmax™ is minimally processed so that the grain is left intact. This retains many of the nutrients and helps to keep the GI low. It is also rich in fibre and includes what is now recognised as the third and essential fibre, resistant starch. So a bowl of Goodness Superfoods cereal, topped with antioxidant and vitamin C-rich berries, along with low fat milk and yoghurt is pretty ideal. Alternatively try soaking Goodness Superfoods Barley & Oats in low fat milk overnight, and then add a few nuts, seeds, fruit and natural yoghurt in the morning for a delicious Bircher style muesli.
Other options include eggs with wholegrain sourdough toast, spinach and mushrooms. Wholegrain toast topped with avocado, tomato and smoked salmon. A wholegrain roll with lean grilled bacon, tomato and rocket. Or for those that prefer a liquid breakfast throw a banana, handful of berries, skim milk, natural yoghurt and couple of spoonfuls of Barley & Oats in a blender for a fibre rich, low GI smoothie.
Breakfast is important, but it also needs to be fast, nutritious and delicious. Get it right and it’s like getting out of bed on the right side. What a great start to the day.