According to the saying coined by renowned 20th century nutritionist Adelle Davis, we should eat ‘breakfast like a king, lunch like a lord and supper like a pauper’.
But in today’s hectic world many people’s eating habits are the opposite of this, eating the majority of their calories during late afternoon and evening, and often missing breakfast altogether.
‘If you have had dinner at 6pm, skip breakfast and don’t eat until lunchtime, that is an 18-hour fast. Your metabolism will be in your boots, which means that anything you do eat for the rest of the day may take longer to be burned up for energy and may be more easily stored as fat,’ explains Sarah McKay, a nutritionist based at the Oasis Wellness Centre at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham.
A good breakfast kickstarts your metabolism and gives you sustained energy for the morning. It should include a portion of fruit, some protein, good carbohydrates and fat and be low in added sugar.
‘Be aware that most breakfast cereals are very high in sugar. Check the back of the packet. Anything that has more than 15 grams per 100 grams of sugar should be avoided,’ adds Sarah.
‘Many people say to me “If I eat breakfast, I feel hungry mid-morning”. If this happens, it is a good thing. It means that your metabolism is working efficiently, so have a glass of water and a healthy snack to keep you going until lunch.
‘Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day and if I am staying at a hotel I like to have at least two courses before I start the day.’
However, during the week breakfast needs to be quick and easy, so here are Sarah’s ideas for a healthy breakfast. Some may mean getting up 10 minutes earlier, but the health benefits and increased energy levels will be worth it.
n A bowl of chopped fruit, with a spoonful of Greek or natural probiotic yoghurt and a handful of nuts, seeds or granola.
n Porridge with chopped fruit, nuts or seeds and ground cinnamon or nutmeg.
n Wholemeal or granary toast with a choice of poached eggs, scrambled eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, sardines, or low salt and sugar baked beans.
n Sugar-free muesli.
n Make your own muesli, with oats, sugar free cereals, nuts, dried fruit, seeds and yoghurt or fruit.
n A full English grill-up on a weekend is good too.