A 2020 study on the topic suggested eating a big brekkie can also boost metabolism and help you lose weight. The research, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, found starting the day with a big breakfast – rather than ending it with a big dinner – could help you burn twice as many calories during the day.
But of course, not all big breakfasts are created equal – scoffing a full English is unlikely to yield the same benefits as a nutritiously, thought-out plate.
So how can you up your breakfast game, without it feeling like a chore?
Make the timing work for you
Breakfast essentially means “breaking the fast”, but that doesn’t mean you need to eat at the crack of dawn if you can’t stomach food that early, says registered nutritional therapist Kelly Vines.
“What’s important is not to leave it so late that your energy and blood sugar levels drop, as then you’ll be reaching for the wrong, instant high energy foods,” she tells HuffPost UK.
There’s no set “closing time” for experiencing the benefits of a good brekkie, agrees registered nutritionist Charlotte Stirling-Reed. Some people like it super early, some on-the-go, and others enjoy a late brunch. “Do what works for you when it comes to your mealtime routine,” she says.
If you identify as someone who “just doesn’t do breakfast”, Anna Groom, a BDA spokesperson and registered dietitian, says this can change. “I find people can gradually train themselves to eat breakfast as it becomes a habit,” she says. “So having a drinkable yoghurt or piece of fruit as a starting point is a great idea.”
Fill your plate with goodness
Eating a balanced breakfast is the best way to start the day feeling energised. In your breakfast, Stirling-Reed says you should try to get:
:: A portion of carbs, such as oats or wholemeal bread,
:: A portion of protein, such as beans, yogurt, fish, eggs or ground seeds/nut butters,
:: A portion of fruit or vegetables, such as spinach in a smoothie, berries on porridge, or green beans in your omelette.
You should aim to get fibre in there too, as most of us don’t get enough of it in our diets, she says. Breakfast is a great time to top up our fibre intakes.
The NHS recommends aiming for 400 calories in your breakfast – but calories can’t tell us everything. Some nutrient-rich foods may have a higher calories content than processed, sugar-based products. Because of this, Vines says it may be more useful to think about how your breakfast leaves you feeling.
“You want your breakfast to just start to fill you,” she says, “but not so much that you’re left feeling too full. Otherwise, this could make you feel lethargic as all your energy will be going towards digesting that big meal.”
Don’t forget to have a drink too, says Groom: “A drink should always be consumed in the morning to support good hydration, which is important for a healthy immune system, as well as concentration.”
Switch up your recipes
If you’ve got an exciting breakfast planned, you’ll want to make time to eat it. A healthy start to the day doesn’t need to be a heavy lift.
Vines likes throwing ingredients into a blender for a fast smoothie breakfast.
Breakfast smoothie recipe:
1 cup of spinach
1/2 a banana
A handful of frozen berries
1/2 a cup coconut water
A handful of raw nuts or a tablespoon of nut butter/avocado
1/2 cup oats
An optional scoop of protein powder for an extra boost.
Alternatively, she’s a fan of porridge with a spoonful of nut butter and berries on top, or avocado on rye bread toast with a boiled or poached egg. Groom likes to add oily fish to her avo on toast.
If that feels like too much work, Stirling-Reed says there’s nothing wrong with cereal, but choose wisely and add toppings for extra flavour and nutritional benefits. “Opt for fortified, low sugar cereals with a handful of berries and a sprinkling of seeds,” she says.
Treat yourself to a special breakfast at the weekend – a full English isn’t off the cards. “If you choose the right foods it can be a healthy, balanced option. Think quality sausages, toast, grilled tomatoes and a side of spinach,” says Stirling-Reed.
“Or pancakes are great for the weekend – they contain protein and carbs already, but you can vary their toppings to make them balanced: peanut butter, forest fruits and yogurt works well, or add scrambled egg and grilled tomatoes.”
Make breakfast a ritual
It may be temping to grab a cereal bar before logging onto work, to get an extra few minutes in bed, but Chloe Brotheridge, hypnotherapist, author and host of The Calmer You podcast, believes making time for a proper breakfast can boost your wellbeing. “Our start to the day can dictate how the rest of it goes,” she says. “If we’re rushed and frantic, it can be hard to shake that feeling later.”
Giving yourself time and space in the morning puts you in a good state of mind, says Brotheridge. To make the act of eating breakfast a more conscious and rewarding experience, she recommends really focussing on the food you’re eating.
“Put down your phone, step away from the computer and take the time to smell and taste your food,” she says. “Chew slowly and enjoy every bite. It’s a wonderful way to show yourself some love.”