How Your First Meal of the Day Affects Your Mood, Health & Energy
Spoiler alert: It’s not bacon, pancakes drizzled in syrup or greasy fried eggs.
The way you fuel your body affects your energy levels, metabolism, digestion, mental clarity and mood. That’s more than enough reasons to care about putting together a first meal of the day that will set the tone for steady productivity and perspective. Here, we suggest the best foods to choose from so that you get the most out of your power breakfast.
As a general rule, the ideal breakfast meal has a low glycaemic load, which means eating foods with little or no carbohydrates. You’re encouraged to go for foods such as nuts, eggs, fruit and lean meats, and avoid processed and fatty foods.
The merits of drinking vinegar water in the morning have been widely expounded on by online health gurus and communities. Although scientific evidence on how whether this truly boosts the metabolism, flushes out toxins, creates a feeling of fullness and improves digestive health, as people proclaim, remains inconclusive, countless first-person rave reviews may make it worth testing, nonetheless. To prepare vinegar water, add 1 tbsp of unfermented apple cider vinegar (with the mother in it) to a glass of tepid or warm water, stir and drink half an hour or more before eating.
Greek yoghurt is a good source of probiotics like Bifidobacteria, which support your digestion. These are living microorganisms that help your gut stay healthy. It’s lower in calories than many other protein sources; a 1-cup (245-gram) serving boasts 25 grams of protein and only 149 calories (9Trusted Source). Plus, Greek yoghurt is full of beneficial nutrients like calcium, vitamin B12, zinc, potassium, and phosphorus.
Eggs are also extremely versatile. They can be made into an omelet with vegetables, scrambled, hard boiled, soft boiled — the list goes on. Eggs are another power food that are a good breakfast choice. They’re an excellent source of protein, which helps support muscle synthesis. Since protein takes a while to digest, it also helps keep you feeling full. Egg yolks contain lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants help prevent eye disorders like cataracts and macular degeneration (4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source). Eggs are also one of the best sources of choline, a vital nutrient for brain and liver health. One egg contains 75 calories, along with 6 grams of protein and 5 grams of healthy fats.
Your body processes food to release the energy it contains. Foods high in carbohydrates may be the easiest to convert into fuel. But simple carbohydrates, like sugar, tend to be used very quickly. This means they’ll give you only a short burst of energy that’ll run out quickly. For long-lasting energy, add a complex carbohydrate, like oats and grains, to your breakfast. Oatmeal without added sugar is one of your best options. Oats are a whole grain food and a good source of carbohydrates and fiber, along with some protein and fat. Oats are also loaded with vitamins and minerals, including manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, iron, zinc, folate, vitamin B1.
Berries, which have been shown to help lower cholesterol in people who are obese or have metabolic syndrome, are low in calories and highly nutritious. In addition to having plenty of antioxidants, they contain nutrients such as Copper, Manganese and Folate. They’re especially high in vitamin C: 1 cup of strawberries offers 150% of the RDI. Berries are also an excellent source of fiber and soluble fiber. Store berries in your freezer and add them to smoothies, yoghurts or oats.
Stock up on seeds that you can add a sprinkle of to your eggs, oats, yoghurt or fruit salad. Just 1 tbsp of each offers a substantial amount of nutrients to keep you going for the entire day. These are the optimal choices:
Chia seeds: Chia seeds are a high source of fiber. The type of fiber in chia seeds is a viscous fiber, which means it absorbs water. As the food moves through your digestive tract, it will expand in volume. These tiny seeds are actually complete protein as they contain all nine essential amino acids. They are also rich in essential fatty acids, magnesium, iron and B vitamins. Soak a teaspoon of these super seeds in water overnight and have them once you wake up. You can even soak them in coconut milk or almond milk and have a smoothie or make a quick breakfast bowl with fresh fruits.
Ground flaxseeds/linseeds: Ground flaxseed can take your breakfast to the next level. Flax is high in soluble fiber, which can help slow digestion and lower your blood sugar. If you tend to snack between meals, adding flaxseed to your breakfast may work to stave off hunger pangs.
Pumpkin seeds: According to the USDA, pumpkin seeds are rich in nutrients like protein and unsaturated fats, namely omega-3 acid. The other nutrients present in pepita include manganese, tryptophan, calcium, potassium, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, zinc, and iron. It also contains smaller amounts of B complex vitamins, vitamin K, and vitamin A. Furthermore, pumpkin seeds have phytosterol, an organic compound that also contributes to their nutritional value.
Another nutrient-dense food appreciated for its many health qualities since ancient times, honey contains high levels of vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins, calcium, copper, iron and zinc. It also features several important bioactive plant compounds and antioxidants such as flavonoids and phenolic acids. Darker varieties, like heather or manuka honey contain higher levels of antioxidants than lighter ones. Add honey to your tea, smoothies, oats, yoghurt or even salad dressing, but beware- it’s as calorific as sugar due to its high glucose levels.
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