We have all heard it before – breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
Do you actually know why though?
If you think about the name breakfast, it literally means to break the fast. We wake in the morning after not having eaten for 8,10 or 12 hours, which means breakfast is our opportunity to start the day right.
What should your breakfast contain to help you kick-start your day?
Here are the five key elements to an elite breakfast.
Colour refers to the fruit and vegetable component of the meal, which is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Most Australians don’t meet their recommended five serves of vegetables & two serves of fruit, so finding ways in your diet to optimise this is important to achieving nutritional adequacy.
Ideally, you should have some colour (fruit or vegetables) at each meal and snack. A good tip is if you are eating a meal and it is only brown and white, think about what you can add to this to help brighten it up and add more colour (i.e. more nutrients).
This is the body’s key energy source and your preferred fuel when training or playing. When carbohydrate is eaten, it is digested, then stored in the body (mostly in the muscles) as a substance called glycogen. Glycogen is then ready to be used by the muscles to fuel activity.
Key sources of carbohydrates include wholegrain bread, pasta, potato, sweet potato, barley, rice, quinoa and fruit.
Carbohydrates are not something for you to be afraid of. Type of carbohydrate, quantity, and timing of consumption is key. Planning your intake of carbohydrates around your training sessions and games is essential. Basically, you should eat more immediately before and right after exercise as that is when your body needs it to fuel and recover.
Protein plays a number of key roles in the body. When protein is eaten, it is broken down into building blocks, called amino acids. The amino acids then play key functions in cellular repair, growth and development both from day to day activities and exercise. Protein is also the most important nutrition when it comes to appetite control and helps you feel fuller for longer.
Key sources of protein in the diet come from meat, chicken, eggs, fish, legumes, tofu, nuts and seeds, and dairy and alternatives.
Spreading your protein intake out over the day helps to maximise recovery & also manage your appetite. It is ideal to have a food which contains protein at each meal and snack.
Fat is another important nutrient for appetite control. Gone are the days where fat was once the enemy. While excessive amounts of fat intake are not recommended, as per gram, fat has double the energy value of other nutrients (carbs and protein), it certainly has a place in the diet.
Ideally, you should consume a small amount at most main meals & snacks – think nuts, seeds, avocado, nut butter or oily fish such as salmon.
Fibre plays an important role in maintaining healthy bowel function by helping keep our bowel movements regular. Through this role, fibre can help reduce the risk of bowel cancer, constipation, and a number of other gut issues.
Daily fibre needs are likely to change day to day, with game day lower fibre foods recommended, though consuming enough fibre on other days is essential.
Considering all of this information you have just read above, here are three popular breakfast choices which will help you eat breakfast like your favourite Netball Champions do.
This really is a winning breakfast. You can control what you add to it, ensuring it has the perfect balance of convenience, nutrition and taste.
Carbohydrate & Fibre – Oats
Protein – Greek yoghurt & milk
Healthy fats – Nuts
Colour – Fruit of choice, but berries & banana are always a winner
A recipe you might like to try
Base (mix all of this in a mason jar or Tupperware container, then pop it in the fridge overnight)
½ cup of oats
1 tbs of chia seeds
½ apple grated
3/4 cup of milk of choice
1 tsp maple syrup
Toppings (in the morning add your favourite toppings such as)
Greek yoghurt (such as Chobani)
Nuts or muesli or choice
A smoothie is a convenient way to get a whole lot of nutrients in a quick, convenient and delicious way.
Carbohydrate – oats, muesli or fruit (such as banana)
Protein – Greek yoghurt and milk
Fibre – if you are adding muesli or oats, that counts. Otherwise you could add something like LSA or Psyllium husk
Healthy fats – chia seeds or avocado
Colour – fruit or salad such as baby spinach
Here are two smoothie recipes you might like to try
– Banana & Berry –
½ cup of frozen berries
½ – 1 frozen banana (can be fresh but tastes better frozen – tip peel ripe banana & freeze)
1 cup of milk
1 tsp of chia seeds
2 tablespoons of Greek yoghurt (such as chobani)
– Banana & honey –
1x frozen banana (can be fresh but tastes better frozen – tip peel ripe banana & freeze)
1-2 teaspoons of chia seeds
Squirt of honey
1 cup of milk
2 tablespoons of Greek yoghurt (such as Chobani)
POACHED EGGS ON SOURDOUGH WITH AVOCADO
For the perfect savoury breakfast, you can’t go past poached eggs, on a good quality sourdough bread with some delicious avocado. This breakfast is the definition of nutritious and delicious!
Carbohydrate & fibre – sourdough
Protein – poached eggs
Healthy fats & colour – avocado (maybe with some sautéed vegetables like spinach, tomato or mushrooms for extra colour)
Article written by Jessica Spendlove – Sports Dietitian to the GIANTS Netball Team.
Jessica also works with a number of other teams including the GWS GIANTS (AFL), Cronulla Sharks (NRL) & the Sydney Kings (NBL) & she is the co-owner of Health & Performance Collective.
Connect with Jess via
Email [email protected]