Why Breakfast is the Most Important Meal of the Day

strawberries, blueberries, yoghurt and ground seeds in breakfast bowl

We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day but not many of us understand the reason why.  Blood sugar levels are at their lowest first thing in the morning and unless you restore them by breaking your overnight fast, you’re likely to experience food cravings, energy lows and difficulty concentrating.

Breakfast and Blood Sugar Levels

The best type of breakfast is one that can keep your blood sugar levels balanced for the longest possible time. The breakfast staple of toast and jam or a croissant and coffee is likely to raise your blood sugar levels high for a short while before sending them plummeting again soon after.

This is because your body reacts by producing too much insulin to try and bring the blood sugar levels under control and the result is an extreme drop in blood sugar levels. These troughs and spikes in blood sugar levels are what lead to cravings for chocolate and caffeine – anything to perk you up quickly, but it’s actually a vicious cycle. And, on top of that, any excess glucose is quickly turned into fat.

To prevent this cycle of quick release and burnout it’s best to choose foods that have a low sugar content and also to combine complex carbohydrates like oats and All-Bran, which are slow-releasing, with protein and good fats (i.e. seed and nut oils rather than saturated animal fat).  The best way to check the sugar content of foods is to see how they rate on the Glycemic Index.

What is the Glycemic Index?

According to The University of Sydney’s Glycemic Index website:

The glycemic index (GI) is a ranking of carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100 according to the extent to which they raise blood sugar levels after eating. Foods with a high GI are those which are rapidly digested and absorbed and result in marked fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Low-GI foods, by virtue of their slow digestion and absorption, produce gradual rises in blood sugar and insulin levels, and have proven benefits for health. Low GI diets have been shown to improve both glucose and lipid levels in people with diabetes (type 1 and type 2). They have benefits for weight control because they help control appetite and delay hunger. Low GI diets also reduce insulin levels and insulin resistance.

You can check the GI of common foods by clicking on the link to this Glycemic Index Food Chart. The general rule is to aim for foods with a GI of below 55.  The higher the number the higher the sugar content of the food.

My Favourite Breakfast

Over the Summer I’ve been enjoying breakfasting on fresh strawberries, blueberries, plain probiotic yoghurt and a couple of heaped desert spoons of Linwoods’ milled flaxseed, sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds and goji berries.

Not only is it delicious but it’s also a balanced, nutritious way to start the day and extremely quick to prepare. I’m not one of those people who can wake up and eat a hearty breakfast, I need at least an hour to sip my tea and come to terms with being awake, but this breakfast is light enough to eat while still half asleep.

In many ways it’s a perfect meal. Strawberries and blueberries have a low GI content, and yoghurt contains protein as well probiotics which are good for maintaining a healthy gut. But the most important part of the meal is the ground flaxseed, sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds and goji berries.

Two heaped dessert spoonfuls provide:

6.2g of Protein
3.3g of Omega 3 (an Essential Fatty Acid)
14% of the Daily Recommended Allowance (RDA) of Zinc and 11% Iron
5.9g of Dietary Fibre per serving

It is also rich in Vitamin D, Vitamin E and B Vitamins.

Sometimes I throw in a tablespoon of Udo’s Oil if I have some in the fridge and a handful of walnuts for extra Omega 3, 6 and 9 and magnesium and fibre from the walnuts.

Combining protein, with Essential Fatty Acids, fibre and low-GI carbohydrates means that this breakfast keeps me feeling fuller for longer and maintains my blood sugar levels on an even keel throughout the morning.

And the best part is that I get to feel very virtuous and healthy while eating something absolutely delicious.

What’s your favourite breakfast?  I’d love to know. Please feel free to leave a comment in the box below.

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4 Responses to Why Breakfast is the Most Important Meal of the Day

  1. Veronica September 27, 2012 at 10:13 pm #

    Hear, hear!

    My fav breakfast at the moment – milled flaxseed, raw milk (sometimes coconut milk and water instead), a dollop of yogurt, mixed berries, some egg white and whey protein, all whizzed up into a yummy smoothie.

    Some mornings, I’ve added in spinach too – a great way to get some extra greens in but, I admit, not quite as yummy then and the combined colour of green and red from the berries….err… lol.

    • Angie Macdonald September 28, 2012 at 8:13 am #

      Wow, Veronica – that sounds very healthy indeed! Lots of protein in there too. Yes, I imagine with the added spinach it must end up looking a bit like mud but I’m sure it’s very good for you.

  2. Mandy September 27, 2012 at 1:16 pm #

    Ha, made me laugh as just this morning I made very virtuous Muesli Munchies made with extra bran, linseeds, sunflower seeds etc. Unfortunately the only way to eat them is smeared with Cadbury Philadephia!
    Favourite breakfast – hot seed bread toast with butter and marmalade, fresh squeezed orange and good coffee.

    • Angie Macdonald September 27, 2012 at 1:27 pm #

      Sounds delicious, Mandy, especially the Cadbury Philadephia! I found a stone in my Muesli this morning so it was very crunchy indeed!

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