“Eat breakfast like a King, lunch like a Prince and dinner like a Pauper.”
Talk to any personal trainer about nutrition and there’s a fair chance they’ll trot out this classic line, and with good reason. It’s become a bit of a cliché, but breakfast really is the most important meal of the day, especially if you’re looking to lose weight.
Breakfast Week: January 24th - 30th 2016
Unfortunately, millions of us skip breakfast each day, instead opting to take the opposite approach to the mantra that we opened this article with. For whatever reason, many people opt out of a morning meal, causing them to overeat and make bad choices later in the day. It’s a recipe for disaster.
To help reverse this trend, AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds has set up ‘Breakfast Week’. Karen Levy, Marketing Executive for the ‘Shake Up Your Wake Up’ breakfast campaign, told Fitness First Clubs what the event - which gets started on January 24th - is all about.
She commented: “Breakfast Week is a nationwide campaign, run on behalf of UK cereal growers and processors, which aims to encourage consumers to recognise the benefits of eating breakfast regularly as part of a healthy diet. The campaign showcases the wide variety of breakfast foods available and celebrates the first meal of the day with events and activities around the country.”
In the spirit of raising awareness and guiding people down a healthier, more nutritious path, we felt that the run up to Breakfast Week was a perfect time to pick the brains of DW’s resident health and fitness expert, personal trainer Carly Tierney, to see if she had any breakfast-related pearls of wisdom to share.
She didn't disappoint!
6 common breakfast mistakes that you need to avoid
According to Carly, these are six of the most common mistakes that people make when it comes to eating (or not, as the case may be) breakfast.
1. Skipping it completely!
“Either because they don't make the time to eat it or because they think that missing it will encourage weight loss. This is one of the worst things you can do if you want to lose weight! You will only want to eat more later in the day, and due to hunger levels, you will be vulnerable to making unwise decisions throughout the day.”
2. Thinking that cereal is a healthy option
“A great breakfast should include healthy fats, carbohydrates and some protein. Many popular cereals market themselves as healthy when in fact they contain a tonne of sugar.”
3. Believing that slathering toast with butter and jam is a good idea
“Toast is another breakfast staple in Britain, but it’s not necessarily healthy. Wholemeal toast can be good, especially with eggs or a smear of peanut butter. However, many people eat white bread and add butter and jam. A whole load of sugar, saturated fat and unhealthy simple carbs that are a big ‘no no’ for weight loss or controlling hunger levels throughout the day.”
4. Choosing orange juice over green tea or water
“A lot of people think that drinking juice is good, grabbing a glass of orange juice at breakfast. Yes, it's packed with vitamins but it's also packed with calories and sugar. My advice would be to opt for a green tea, sparkling water or coffee and actually eat a piece of fruit, which is much more satisfying.”
5. Relying on breakfast bars - are they just glorified biscuits?
“Granola and breakfast bars often serve as quick on-the-go meals, but many of them have as many calories as a dessert! Most commercial cereal bars are basically biscuits in disguise, with a lot more sugar than you need.”
6. Going over the top with your morning coffee
“Coffee is great at breakfast but be mindful of the add-ons such as sugar, cream and syrups. Some coffees can contain more calories and fat than a piece of chocolate cake. Think before you drink. A better option would be an Americano, green tea or fruit tea.”
Simple healthy breakfast options if you’re in a rush
A lot of people skip breakfast because of time constraints, but this really isn't an excuse. According to Carly, you can make a healthy breakfast in no time at all - you don’t have to be fancy! Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier and prepare yourself one of these simple, yet highly nutritious meals.
Porridge made with 50g of oats, almond milk and one banana
Be careful when you buy your porridge, as some brands will cram a lot of sugar in there. Porridge is a good breakfast option as it is renowned for releasing energy slowly, which means you can get to lunch without suffering from a lull. A great source of fibre, potassium and vitamins, bananas are always a good accompaniment to your morning oats.
Two slices of wholemeal toast with two teaspoons of peanut butter
So fast and easy to make, yet so effective. As Carly suggested earlier, wholemeal toast can be a good breakfast choice, as long as you are sensible with your toppings. Peanut butter is perfect. A good source of “healthy fats”, as well as protein and Vitamin E among other nutrients, a liberal spreading of peanut butter can set you up for the day.
Fat-free Greek yoghurt, a handful of berries and 12 almonds. (Add protein powder to yoghurt to give it some extra flavour and an extra boost of protein.)
Greek yoghurt is widely labelled as a “superfood”, such are the vast nutritional benefits that it offers. Regardless of where you stand on the superfood debate, Greek yoghurt’s credentials speak for themselves. A good source of potassium, protein, calcium and essential vitamins, this food forms an ideal base for a healthy breakfast, especially if you’re trying to lose weight.
Eggs Florentine (made with two poached eggs, a handful of spinach and 25g of grated low-fat cheese)
We've made no secret of our love for eggs. Did you see our recent blog post, which looked at why eggs should be a key component of your diet? We took an extensive look at the nutritional benefits of this humble food, of which there are many. Eggs Florentine is not only a tasty breakfast, it also carries a hefty nutritional punch, particularly when you throw some spinach into the equation.
Tip: To achieve the perfect poached egg, add a splash of vinegar to your boiling water and use a fork or knife to create a whirlpool before dropping your eggs into the pan. Trust us, it works!
If you have a bit more time to play with in the morning, you can afford to be a little more extravagant with your breakfast preparations. Fitness First Clubs has comes up with a couple of tasty recipes that take a little longer than the ideas above, but nevertheless they’re still really easy to make and they’re so worth it!
Omelette made with two full eggs, three egg whites, asparagus, peppers and 50g of smoked salmon
How to do it…
1. Boil your asparagus in water for around five minutes.
2. While you’re doing so, mix your eggs and egg whites in a jug, and add a splash of skimmed milk. Chop some peppers up and throw them in too.
3. Once your asparagus is cooked, drain it and chop into smaller chunks (add these to your egg mixture).
4. Whisk your mixture and season with salt and pepper.
5. Pour the mix into a hot pan (if you want to be a little risqué, use a small knob of butter or a teaspoon of quality olive oil).
6. Cook the omelette for around 90 seconds to two minutes.
7. Once you’re happy that the bottom is cooked, take the pan off the hob and place under the grill for another 30 seconds to a minute in order to cook the top).
8. Serve with your smoked salmon.
Egg yolks are full of iron and vitamins, but they’re also high in cholesterol, which is why we’ve used two full eggs and three egg whites in this recipe. Asparagus, meanwhile, contains Vitamins A, C, E and K, and is also good for iron. The red peppers, which are a great source of Vitamin C, add some crunch to the dish.
Finally, the salmon is another source of good fats and is also full of protein, making this a perfect meal for somebody who is looking to build muscle.
Turkey and vegetable breakfast frittata
Okay, you can argue that frittatas are just fancy omelettes, but despite giving you one omelette recipe already, we thought our spicy frittata creation was too good not to share. It’s also much more suitable if you’re cooking for two.
You’ll need: One onion, one red pepper, one stick of celery, one cup of mushrooms, four to six eggs, one habanero chilli (depending on your spice preference!), one tablespoon of oil, 25g of grated low-fat cheese, 150 ml of skimmed milk, 50g of turkey breast. Add some spinach for an extra boost.
What to do…
1. First things first, cook your turkey breast so that it’s ready to add to the mix later on. Best to grill it and then chop it up - it’s healthier than shallow frying it.
2. Meanwhile, add your onion, pepper, chilli, mushrooms and celery to your pan (having already heated the oil, of course). Cook these for around five minutes (or until your veg is nice and soft).
3. Whisk your eggs and milk together in a separate bowl, seasoning with salt and pepper accordingly.
4. Add the egg mixture, veg, cooked turkey and cheese to a high-sided baking pan or tin and cook in your oven for around 15 minutes at 170 degrees C.
5. You’ll be presented with a beautifully-baked frittata, which you can slice up and serve.
Turkey might seem like an unorthodox breakfast ingredient, but you shouldn't be too quick to discount it. One of the leaner meats available, turkey gives you a significant protein boost without forcing you to consume excess calories. It’s also easy to underestimate the nutritional value of underrated ingredients such as onions and mushrooms. As this post shows, eating mushrooms is a great way to get your quota of potassium, while onions are surprisingly high in Vitamin C and are also a strong source of folic acid. If you’re not a fan of spice in the morning, just take the habanero chilli out!
So there you go - we told you breakfast was important! Hopefully we've also demonstrated that it’s quicker and easier than you think to create a nutritious morning meal that will stand you in good stead for the rest of the day.
To learn more about how Fitness First Clubs can assist you in reaching your health and fitness goals, please don’t hesitate to contact us.