Is a good breakfast essential?
I am not really a breakfast person, but for years felt I should have a hearty breakfast as it was billed as the best way to start the day. Could the cereal manufacturers have had a part in that, I wonder?! In fact, there is no good evidence that a full-on breakfast is essential for health or weight control. What's more the classic sugary cereal with fruit juice could be sabotaging our weight control efforts by giving us a sugar dip mid-morning, leaving us reaching for a sugary snack to top our energy levels up again.
In a rush?
So, as someone who can happily survive without much food first thing (later on in the day is entirely different!) I am happy to just grab a banana and go. Another quick option would be to blitz a ripe banana and some oats (great for the heart) in a blender with some ice, milk (or almond milk for a lower cal, dairy free option) and fresh or frozen berries if available. The resultant smoothie is filling and full of nutrition, without the excess of sugar found in shop-bought smoothies.
However, I try hard to do a bit of exercise in the morning when I can (as I just can't find the willpower later in the day!) and need a bit more than a banana then. Protein and carbs are shown to be beneficial after exercising - either a veg and tuna omelette with extra egg white or a bowl of Greek yoghurt and blueberries and a piece of wholemeal toast. Protein is often neglected by women - but it is a better breakfast choice than sugary granola or muesli. If you are someone who needs a good breakfast, whether exercising or not, choose eggs or other protein sources, oats and other wholegrains and whole fresh fruit packed with fibre rather than fruit juice.
And I never forget my caffeine!
I can't seem to get going without a coffee though. Caffeine was billed as bad - but actually, plenty of studies show a beneficial effect if you don't overdo it. What's more, a recent review from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) showed that caffeine may protect against certain cancers and does not seem to increase the risk of others. However, I am trying to let my usual black coffee cool a bit, or add milk, as drinking any fluids at temperatures of over 650C may be associated with an increased risk of some cancers. I try to restrict my caffeine habit to two or three as overdosing isn't great for mood and concentration - and I avoid coffee after lunch to ensure it doesn't disrupt my precious sleep. I also steer well clear of the huge, calorie laden lattes and similar in the hospital Costa - they can have the equivalent of a quarter of my day's calorie needs plus loads of sugar!
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