You’ve no doubt heard the saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, well this is particularly important for athletes since what we eat in the morning has a profound effect on how we function throughout the rest of the day. Here we analyse the top tips on morning nutrition and explain how a well-designed breakfast could greatly increase the results you get in the gym.
One of the most important reasons for breakfast is to fuel your brain and help proper cognitive functioning for the rest of the day. This is because the brain runs mainly on carbohydrates and so if you’ve not had a good source of low glycaemic index carbohydrates in the morning it’s likely that you’ll feel tired, lethargic and a bit ‘slow’ mentally. For this reason it’s so important to have a good source of slow releasing carbohydrates in the morning in the form of oats, whole-wheat toast or granola.
Provide Energy and Regulate Blood Sugar Levels
Obviously carbohydrates are our body’s primary source of energy so it makes sense to have between 50-70 grams of low glycaemic index carbohydrates in the morning, since this will then keep the body slowly energised throughout the day. But another reason why these carbohydrates should have a low glycaemic is because these are best for regulating blood sugar levels therefore ensuring you don’t experience an energy crash or get sugar cravings during the rest of the day. This is something that’s often experienced by people who have a poor quality breakfast like certain cereals that are coated in chocolate and sweeteners or white toast with chocolate spread, since these have a high glycaemic index and so cause blood sugar levels to rise and then drop dramatically which can leave you feeling tired and can even affect your mood.
The Best Protein Choice
Another thing to consider is your intake of protein first thing in the morning because you’ve been sleeping and not eating for 7-10 hours it’s very important to have a good intake of protein to ensure you feed your muscles which may have been starved of much needed amino acids whilst you slept. For this reason an omelette would be a great way to start your day or perhaps a whey protein shake. Another thing to consider for those looking to lower their body fat is ensuring you remain full and satiated right through to dinner.
For this reason it might be a good idea to consider a casein protein shake since researchers in Switzerland discovered this was best for keeping people fuller for longer. Rania Abou-Samra et al (2011) took a group of 32 male subjects and randomly assigned them to consume 20g of casein, whey or pea protein 30 minutes before eating a meal and their appetite and desire to eat that meal was then subjectively measured. The study concluded that the ‘casein and pea protein showed a stronger effect on food intake compared to whey when consumed as a preload’ meaning both casein and pea protein were considered to make you feel fuller for longer compared to whey protein.
These results seem to be supported by researchers from the Nutrition and Toxicology Research Institute at Maastricht University who specifically measured test subjects appetite after they were fed a diet where; (1) 10% of their total daily calorie intake was made up of casein and (2) 25% of their total daily calorie intake was made up of casein. Ananda Hochstenbach-Waelen et al (2009) concluded ‘satiety was 33% higher in group 2 compared to those in group 1’ and that a higher protein diet (in the case of this study casein) was more beneficial to body weight management.
Healthy Fats and Satiety
Another thing to consider is having a good source of healthy fats first thing in the morning, especially when looking to lose body fat since healthy fats have been found to have a satiating effect and again help reduce your desire to eat throughout the day. Specifically researchers P. Casas-Agustench et al (2009) discovered that the healthy fats found in nuts greatly helped to regulate blood sugar levels, therefore reducing sugary cravings, and also helped keep people fuller for longer. As a result whole-wheat toast with peanut butter could be a great way to start your day since not only do you get the benefits of the low glycaemic index carbohydrates from the toast but you also get the benefits of the healthy fats in the peanut butter too.