A recent research study says that eating breakfast has an advantageous effect on late-morning mood, satiety and cognitive performance.
Says nutritionist and author of Eat.Delete. Pooja Makhija, “Breakfast, quite literally, means breaking the fast after eight to 10 hours of not eating while you are asleep. If you are not fed in the morning your body goes into starvation or generator mode as I call it, where your body then starts storing anything that you’ve eaten, be it an idli or bacon or fried chicken.”
Eating immediately after waking up fuels you up instantly and prepares you for the day ahead. If you don’t eat breakfast, the starvation mode makes you want to eat more and store more, resulting in weight gain. You eat less to compensate, which again results in starvation.
The only way to break this vicious cycle is to eat the heartiest meal you can for breakfast. Soon after you wake up is a time when your metabolism is at its highest rate, thus eating then will burn calories and replenish your system for the day.
Food consultant Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal compares the human body to a car or machine that needs to be tanked up after a night long sleep to hit the road in perfect condition. “Breakfast is the only way you can survive the day without feeling lethargic or tired,” she says.
Rushina explains that your daily breakfast should include foods from at least three of the four food groups. When combined, this meal should make up about one-quarter to one-third of your day’s total nutrients. Also try to ensure breakfast components are made up of foods with healthy fat, lean protein and complex carbs and fibre such as nut butters, low-fat hard cheeses, whole grain breads and crackers, fibre-rich fruit and vegetables.
According to Pooja, egg whites are the best source of proteins for the body. They help in wear and tear utilisation, muscle growth and healthy hair. Indian food items such as a bowl of poha, upma or dalia are also a perfect mix of carbohydrates and proteins. Moong dal or besan are also high sources of good quality proteins and can be had in the form of chillas with a bowl of curd. Rushina sides with fish, which is not only a great protein source but also a fabulous source of Omega 3 fatty acids — try salmon or tuna in sandwiches with whole grain breads.
Fibre (soluble and insoluble)
Fibre is important at all meals but especially at breakfast. It literally cleans the system and swells up by absorbing fluids in your stomach helping to fill you up and keeping you full for longer.
Rushina proposes fresh fruit as the supreme choice. Raw fruit cut into chunks or unstrained fruit juices or even dried fruits are excellent for fibre and iron. Vegetables also fortify fibre in breakfasts.
This can be attained through cereals and grains. Rushina explains, “Most of these fibre sources are also complex or ‘slow-release’ carbohydrates that don’t spike your blood sugar like refined carbohydrates in white bread. Thus, insulin levels don’t spike as high, and because insulin plays a role in signalling your body to store fat, lower levels may help you burn fat.” Pooja suggests fortified cereals such as cornflakes and vita breads as great sources of iron and Vitamin D. And of course, one of the quickest ways to eat cereals is by simply mixing it up with milk and some fruits.
Low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese and yogurt are important for supplementary protein and calcium. Vegan and lactose intolerant people can opt for nut and soy milk, nut oils, butters and yogurts.
Ideal time for breakfast
According to Pooja, breakfast should be had within the first hour of waking up. “Since it jump-starts your metabolism, eating soon after you wake up can raise your energy level right away and encourage you to be more active throughout the morning and into the afternoon. Your blood sugar levels are naturally low when you awake, so eating within 60 minutes of getting up can boost the blood sugars. Delaying it could cause a complete blood sugar crash and waiting until almost lunchtime to eat, may cause overeating during the first meal of the day,” explains Rushina.
Results of skipping breakfast
Low mental performance, fatigue, weight gain are only few results of avoiding breakfast. “Skipping breakfast can lead to a slow start to metabolism which in turn results in weight gain. It also causes lack of energy and stamina and weakens your immune system,” says Pooja.
All you need to do is invest five extra minutes in your regular routine and cook up a healthy, hearty meal. You can even pre-prep your meal the previous night if you are pressed for time.