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What should I eat for breakfast?
“Fill me up with sugar and watch me crash”
Parents and coaches often ask me “What should my child eat for breakfast?”
Eating the a healthy breakfast will aid concentration and help overall health and performance. The recent study on Primary School children in Wales showed that eating breakfast was associated with better SATS scores.
Unfortunately they asserted that breakfast cereals constituted a “healthy breakfast“. Read on and see why this is a big error...
If you are anything like I was, you probably eat the same thing for breakfast 6 days out of 7, and it probably hasn’t changed for the last 5 years. It will most likely involve reaching for a bowl of breakfast cereal.
It is important to eat properly before competing and before studying: breakfast is the best start.
However, eating the wrong thing will lead to rapid increases in blood sugar, followed shortly by an insulin rush and onset of lethargy. This then leads to further cravings throughout the day.
Looking at the Which! report on breakfast cereals, you may as well just eat handfuls of sugar.
3 of the worst offenders for sugar content (or Diabetes starter packs)
All apparently healthy, and 2 of the guys I was training last week (Jess and Kurtis) said they had these every day with the assumption they were healthy.
Excelsior athletes can see some alternatives for a nutritional breakfast
Otherwise you might like to look at this excellent guide from the NHS on 5 healthy breakfasts.
It is important to know that porridge and muesli were omitted from this report because they are outside of the best sellers. “Is porridge a good breakfast?” is something I get asked every time I do a workshop on healthy breakfasts.
Whilst it is hot and has slow releasing energy, it is low on protein and vitamins. I would add nuts for protein and some fruit too. Wholewheat museli with no added sugar has a good balance. Avoid Alpen which is very high in added sugar.
Making the change to a healthy breakfast
4 years ago when I first read this report I made a determined effort to change what I ate. Four mornings a week involved a mad rush of nappy changing, kids dressing, tidying up and general herding of cats- so it was unrealistic to get a cooked breakfast.
But, I did manage to have Porridge or wholewheat muesli (with no added sugar) using nuts for protein.
The other 3 days a week I had a bit more time and changed what I ate: This included eggs, grilled bacon or peanut butter on toast.
We also deliberately changed the cereals we bought and the nutritional value of the bread to make toast. The whiter the bread, the more refined the flour, the quicker the release of the energy and the less nutritional value it has.
- Switching to wholemeal toast instead of white toast will immediately improve your breakfast.
- Adding some protein/ fat and reducing cereal/ bread content will make it healthier still.
This will require some planning and alternative aisles visited in the supermarket- (a worthwhile investment on my part for me and family). I want to avoid a diabetes endemic in our house.
Now I only eat wholemeal muesli or porridge 1-2 times a week, the rest of the time I include fresh fruit and protein. More recently I have started eating eggs 3-4 times each week. This reflects guidelines on returning to a more early twentieth century diet, low in sugar and refined carbohydrates.
Thanks to Hayley Bond for her research.
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