A nourishing filling breakfast is a sure way to get your training energy on the right track. Some people don’t feel like eating in the morning, but this is the most important meal of the day if you want to keep your triathlon fitness at peak. Not fixing your blood sugar and energy at the beginning of the day almost guarantees poor physical and mental function until you have your first bite.
Research has shown that most breakfast skippers get extremely exhausted by early afternoon, have slower metabolism and are more predisposed to diabetes and obesity. Additionally, most of these tend to eat faster and more later in the second part of the day sending the blood sugar and energy levels on a roller-coaster ride. Try not to destroy your metabolism and have some food in the morning and have a healthy nourishing start, even if it is a small balanced meal. But ideally, every meal, including breakfast, should contain a good source of protein, complex carbohydrates and fats. This combination allows your blood sugar to rise slowly and steadily feeding cells with the much-needed energy to keep you training.
What makes breakfast different from any other meal is the nutrient proportion. Morning is the time when your body cries for the highest quality fuel and cereals with all the nourishing essentials are terrific for that.
Breakfast Cereal Choice
Not all cereals are created equal. According to the CHOICE report, “around 70% of the cereals have too little fiber, too much sugar and salt to be worth recommending.” The best cereal? The least processed one, and here is why.
The majority of the grains we eat today are refined, a process that strips away many of the nutrients. However, manufacturers promote processed breakfast cereals as important sources of vitamins and minerals. Indeed, in their most natural state all cereals, especially when mixed with milk, are terrific wellsprings of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, essential amino and fatty acids. But when grains are refined, the bran and germ layers, which are the main part of healthy fiber, are generally removed, leaving only the bulk of endosperm.
Processing of grains can cause 66 per cent loss of fiber, 92 per cent loss of selenium, 62 per cent loss of folate and up to 99.8 per cent of phytochemicals from the grains. If stripped micronutrients are not added back to the products, breakfast would be no better than glorified dessert made from simple sugar, fat, salt and bulk. Not a great energy boosting start of the day. Whole grains, in contrast, retain all their fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
What makes a good cereal?
Ideally, every meal should contain a good source of protein, complex carbohydrates and fats. This combination will allow your blood sugar to rise slowly and steadily throughout the morning feeding your cells with the much-needed energy. This is the time when your body cries for the highest quality fuel – cereals are terrific for that. But not all are created equal.
For a brain spark, you need carbohydrates, preferably from fibrous whole grains. Simple sugars give you immediate boost, but these get digested, absorbed and used by the body in minutes. Fiber and complex carbohydrates from cereals are digested slowly giving a gradual power supply. Whole grains also have many essential amino and fatty acids. In combination with milk, you get all the needed nutrients.
The best cereal? The least processed one. Thanks to fiber, unprocessed grains usually have fewer calories per weight than the refined sugary starches. Follow these steps when you buy a box of morning breakfast:
- Read the list of ingredients. The shorter the list – the better. This means the cereal is closest to the original grain and has more natural nutrients.
- Look at how much fiber, sugar, fat or sodium the product has. Try to get one with most fiber and protein, least fat, sugar and salt.
- Compare calories rather than the volume or weight of a serving. For example, an ounce of a nutrient-dense cereal, such as All-Bran with extra fiber, would contain fewer calories per 100g, but more calories per cup than an airy puffed rice. On the other hand, you’ll get more nutrients per calorie in the bran cereal.
Think Outside The Box
Whole grain cereal with low-fat milk is a great breakfast option. But go ahead and get creative: Try adding fruit or yogurt to your bowl or eating nontraditional morning foods for breakfast. It is important to choose from several different food groups such as high-fiber whole grains and low-fat dairy products and meats. Here are several options, or use your imagination to create your own morning meal that is both enjoyable and satisfying.
- Spread Wheat-Bix bars with cottage cheese and have a glass of fruit smoothie
- Toasted whole grain waffle, spread peanut butter, add sliced fruit and enjoy it with buttermilk
- Sprinkle whole grain cereal on top of berry yogurt and ricotta cheese mixture
- Mix cooked brown rice with a hard-boiled egg, low-fat cheese, tomatoes, capsicums and serve with avocado
- Grits with cheese
- Oatmeal with applesauce or raisins, a handful of nuts and a glass of milk
- Mix cooked buckwheat, nut butter, honey and serve it in a bowl of hot milk