Are your breakfast choices setting you up for failure?

By Dylan Willis You’ve all probably heard the old saying….’breakfast is the most important meal of the day’. Is this just an old wives tail or is there some validity to this statement? Well, in truth the answer is debatable due to a number of considerations but one thing is for sure – poor breakfast choices can lead to a vast array of health issues and over time will greatly contribute to weight gain. In my numerous internships with World renowned strength coach Charles Poliquin, one thing he has reiterated on many occasions has always resonated with me: the first thing that goes in your mouth in the morning sets your neurotransmitters for the day. Put very simply, neurotransmitters are like our brains little messengers. Make poor choices and the brain gets fed poor messages. ‘Good fats’ and proteins will send messages to the brain to regulate neurotransmitters such as dopamine and acetylcholine. Both have an extremely positive effect on brain function and mood. If you grew up like me then your morning staple would have consisted of the following – boxed cereal such as weet-bix, corn flakes or nutri-grain with some low fat milk, a banana and a glass of orange juice. Sound familiar? Or perhaps you slept in, then a few pieces of toast with margarine and jam or vegemite may have been thrown together before you bolted out the door. So what is so wrong with these choices? In his insightful book aptly titled ‘cereal killer’ Alan Watson goes into great detail on how low fat, high carb, sugary cereals are directly associated with insulin resistance, elevated blood sugar and the onset of the diabetes epidemic. The addition of a processed fruit juice (sugar water) and some white bread to the equation and it is clear we are ‘hard wiring’ our system to want more sugar simply as a result of what we consume first thing in the morning! So if cereal and toast are off the agenda then what are my options I here you say? By far the best choice for breakfast should be something high in protein, good fats and natural fiber. The fats and proteins promote a slow, steady rise in blood sugar whilst the fiber creates a sense of fullness and helps regulate your digestion. I find the best starting point for most people is the humble egg.

Why? Because there is an existing culture of consuming eggs for breakfast. Once you feel comfortable regularly eating a high protein option such as eggs then you can move on and explore alternatives. I can still recall vividly 7 years ago when a good friend of mine started eating chicken stir fry’s with brown rice for breakfast while I was eating my porridge with honey! I thought he was crazy at the time. You can’t possibly eat a meal like that for breakfast I thought! It wasn’t long until I was on the band wagon and now I’m the one people look at curiously… We have been indoctrinated into an eating culture that only accepts a small group of foods as acceptable for our morning feed. The reality is breakfast is all but another meal. It is society that has dictated what we can and can’t have.

I encourage you to think outside the box and try things. Eventually you will find what works for you. It is important to note that eggs, although a great source of protein are also a common allergen and over time people can develop mild food sensitivities to them if over consumed. The major reason for this is the fact that a high percentage of the population has absorption and assimilation issues, and many are undiagnosed in what’s called a leaky gut syndrome. Put simply this is where small particles of food escape directly into the blood stream causing an inflammatory response. For this reason food rotation and variety is highly recommended. On a personal note I find a frittata with a garden salad to be the most convenient option. It is quick to make, is packed full of protein, quality fats and with a small accompanying salad can meet most of your nutritional needs. The other great thing about a fritatta is you can make it the night before and it keeps well in the fridge for at for least a few days. This is especially good if you’re time poor or really don’t enjoy cooking that often.