If you’re having to rely on multiple espresso shots to keep you going through the morning, or need an energy drink or sugar rush to tide you over through an afternoon slump, you can blame the food you’re fuelling your body with in the AM. A balanced, energy-boosting breakfast will counteract fatigue and keep you well sustained through your day of work, Zoom calls and chores. We spoke to a nutritionist about what you should be adding to it now.
“Breakfast breaks the overnight fasting period and allows the replenishment of nutrients such as glucose and protein to boost your energy levels and alertness, whilst also providing other essential nutrients to carry through the day,” says celebrity nutritionist Ryan Fernando, QUA Nutrition. Fernando, who works with Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma, confirms that studies say that the health benefits of eating right in the AM extend to avoiding diseases such as type II diabetes and heart diseases in the long run, in addition to helping with cholesterol and weight management. Eating protein, good fats and complex carbohydrates can balance blood sugar levels and boost metabolism, which helps to create a better release of energy through the day.
Foods with a low glycemic index produce smaller fluctuations in glucose and insulin levels. The balance of complex carbohydrates and protein provides a slow, steady source of glucose instead of the sudden surge that can occur after eating simple carbohydrates like bread or dosa.
Bananas are a rich source of good complex carbs, potassium, and Vitamin B6 to boost energy levels. It also includes a good amount of fibre, which slows down the release of sugar into the bloodstream, giving you the energy that lasts through your afternoon. A ripe banana will provide readily available energy because the starch has already converted into sugar.
Sweet potatoes improve gut health and have a low glycemic index which means that they will release sugar in the bloodstream slowly, providing energy gradually for the long run, compared to other starchy foods. “Its high fibre content also helps regulate blood sugar, which affects your energy levels, and helps prevent and manage diabetes. Its high magnesium content helps reduce stress and anxiety, making you more focused on the task at hand,” he confirms.
Oats or oatmeal
“Complex carbs in the morning will give a proper release of sugar instead of rush. A doughnut will give instant rush and crash, whereas eating oatmeal promotes the slow release of energy.” Beta-glucans in it help in fat loss and reduce cholesterol. It is a great source of fibre and will keep you filled till lunch, so you will not have sugar cravings between breakfast and lunch,” suggests Fernando.
Spinach may not be your first pick for the morning, but can be a great side to your omelette and toast. It is a great source of Vitamin C, folate and iron, which is essential for energy production.
Eggs contain high-quality protein and healthy fats, which keeps you energised throughout the day. Choline, an essential nutrient found in eggs, stimulates brain development and function. It has also been linked with increasing memory retention and recall, which makes it a great breakfast food.
Chia seeds soak up fluids, so they can expand in the stomach after being digested, which helps keep you full for longer periods of time. They’re packed with antioxidants, protein, fat, and fibre too.
“Green tea is rich in caffeine and L-theanine, both of which can enhance alertness and focus, which is especially beneficial in the morning,” he says. It prevents the caffeine rush that a cup of coffee can give you, and gives you sustained energy through several hours without a crash.