If you're the type of person who "hates breakfast" or you love it but pretty much eat the same thing everyday, your breakfast routine could be long due for an overhaul. Get the balance right and you could find that your concentration, mood and focus improves at work, plus your ability to get a lot more done in the morning.
Karen Poole, expert nutritionist says: "Lots of people think it's a meal you can miss, but it's so important that you don't. When you're asleep, you think you're resting, but your body is making vital repairs to cells and tissue. You brain lays down all the information it has acquired over the day and your liver does most of its work during the night. So if you've had too many drinks, that's why you wake up at three or four in the morning.
"The liver helps regulate blood sugar, stores energy and vitamins and it's part of the immune system because it's detoxing the body."
It sounds really obvious, but a crucial reason to eat breakfast is, as Karen says, because your body has effectively been under a 12-hour fast, if you eat dinner at 8pm. "If you haven't eaten breakfast," she says, "you've impaired your body's efficiency to keep going."
Yvonne McMeel, nutritionist at Harrods' Urban Retreat agrees and says: "When you wake up, it’s good to give the body time to wake up first and have a drink of water or hot water and lemon rather than eating straightaway."
KEY DO'S AND DON'TS
Limit the amount of juice you drink
"Breakfast juices can be high in naturally-occurring sugars," says Yvonne, "but how many people sit down and eat three or four oranges in one go?"
"Work out what you are having the night before," says nutritionist Laura Church "as you will then make better choices than just reaching for the cereal."
Don't stick to cereal or toast
Laura says: "The worst food you can give your kids is cereal. They get to school, they have a slump and are craving sugar. It's the same with adults. You get a massive insulin spike when you get to work and then want a coffee with sugar and a biscuit." If you do go for cereal however, Karen recommends the ranges that are no added sugar or salt.
Here are top tips from the nutritionists on the best breakfasts to give you a great start to the day:
Karen recommends almond or rice milk as it has extra fibre. Nutritionist Laura Church doesn't agree with dairy at all, saying that "it is not in line with our DNA. It's meant to make a young calf grow in a matter of months. I'd always recommend almond, soya or rice milk."
Avocado is a fantastic source of good, essential fat, and Karen recommends slicing up some avocado, putting it on a slice of organic brown bread with a bit of spinach.
Whole Grains - Brown Bread
Yvonne says: "Even if you aren't eating much in the way of carbs, get them in the morning because a) they are good for energy and b) they have B vitamins, which are mood-enhancing nutrients. "Neurochemicals in the brain are made from protein but you need B-vitamins from carbs to activate them. The antibodies that make up our bodies are made from protein, so it's essential for your immune system"
"Nuts are great for slow release energy," says Karen, "and are good as long as you don't consume them in big quantities. Sprinkle them over porridge." Rather than topping porridge with honey - it breaks down like white sugar, says Yvonne - opt for nuts as protein will keep you feeling fuller for longer.
The thought of kale first thing in the morning may sound adventurous, but Laura says: "We're so close-minded in what we allow ourselves to eat for breakfast. Other countries are light years ahead. Kale is fantastic first thing in the morning and I get some kale, coconut water, apple, pear and ginger and blend it up. The coconut water cancels out the kale's bitterness and you've created a smoothie that is packed with vitamins and minerals."
"A super breakfast," says Karen is to make your own muesli. "You can buy an organic muesli and add a banana to it." "Stay away from granola though," advises Yvonne. "It's a very popular option but most granola has a lot of sugar."
"A really healthy start to the day," says Yvonne, "is to have some fruit, berries and nuts with natural yogurt or soy yogurt. It's good for calcium and protein, and people like a bit of sweetness in the morning." "Don't eat too much fruit, however," says Karen." "Add a dessert spoon size because while it is an antioxidant and is fantastic, the body still has to process fructose. Sugar likes to attach itself to collagen and protein."
"Plain oats is fantastic," says Karen. "It's a superfood, and if you buy organic there is no carbon footprint. Sprinkle crushed seeds and a spoonful of berries. If you don't have time, you can buy the seeds already crushed from Linwoods which has goji berries too."
Poached or boiled eggs
"Eggs are excellent," says Yvonne. "You want to think about a poached egg on rye bread or a plain omelette. It staves off hunger pangs too as it's a rich source of protein." A great carb, protein and fats combo is bread, a poached egg and some smoked salmon, says Karen.
Quinoa, if you don't quite know what it is, is a grain-like seed that tastes like and mimics the texture of a grain but isn't one. It's very high in protein and carbohydrates, and is high in amino acids so it is viewed as a superfood. Laura swears by it as it is also high in iron, and is easy to pop into a bowl and eat if you prepare it the night before.
Alright, bear with us here. Sardines may not be a popular choice among your colleagues, but Laura says: "The number of clients I've had that say 'no way would I have thought of having oily fish for breakfast'. But it works, especially if you team it up with cold rice or a jacket potato." Oily fish is very good for your brain, so if you can stomach it, you'll be giving it a healthy boost.
Smoked salmon is one the most accessible breakfast foods and Karen recommends putting a slide of smoked salmon with greens and a piece of toast.
If you've got a busy day ahead of you, a frittata can be a great choice, says Yvonne because you can really vary the fillings. Frittatas are made with egg and potato, and introducing smoked salmon or spinach is a great way of adding antioxidants and more protein.