Breakfast Hacks to Level Up Your Nutrition

Leanne Ward, Nutritionist & Dietitian

You can quite literally take breakfast to mean “break the fast” and for some, it’s the favourite meal of the day but for others, they can happily do without. Breakfast can be a controversial topic. Should we eat it or should we skip it? What time should we eat it? What should we eat? Is it better to go low carb or high carb? Low fat or high fat? Keto or vegetarian? Savory or sweet? Although there is a lot of conflicting research on a few of these topics, below are some of the research backed answers to “hacking your breakfast” to make you the healthiest version of you yet.

Skipping breakfast?

Breakfast can provide key nutrients in your diet plus some extra energy to start your day but what does the research really show us when it comes to eating it? Sadly, I can’t provide you with a black and white answer as like most things in nutrition science, it’s complex. Some of the research suggests that breakfast is important while other newer studies show us that skipping breakfast isn’t nearly as bad as what we previously thought. Overall, the research tends to point towards breakfast eaters having healthier habits and lower risk of diseases including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and elevated LDL (the “bad”) cholesterol.

It’s important to note that these studies show that people who eat breakfast are more likely to be healthier, but the studies didn’t prove that the breakfast itself was responsible for it. If you can get all your required nutrients in other meals of the day, breakfast isn’t necessarily needed every day for good health. Skipping breakfast has also been shown to have no effect on the amount of energy or calories you burn each day therefore, it does not appear to improve or reduce weight loss efforts, it’s really about the calorie load you consume throughout the day, breakfast or not.

Take eating breakfast as a personal choice when it comes to your health but when it comes to athletic performance, as a dietitian with an interest in sports nutrition, I would recommend regularly fuelling throughout the day and therefore regularly eating breakfast.   

When should you eat breakfast?

When it comes to good health, it’s most important to listen to your body. So rather than eating the minute you wake up or just before you leave the house for work, try tuning into your body and wait for it to give you some hunger signals. What you might find is that you begin to eat at differing times each day, some days at 6am and some days at 9am. As busy people, we tend to eat out of habit or “eat on the clock” instead of actually listening to our body and this is what can contribute to unwanted weight gain when we’re eating more than your body actually needs. As an example, if you’ve had a large dinner the night before, you might not need to eat until later in the morning and you might find your hunger is less than normal, so you have a lighter meal even once you do eat. 

If the goal is muscle gain or performance benefits, the timing of your nutrition matters far more so touch base with a sports dietitian to discuss an individualised nutrition plan.

What should you eat for good health?

I don’t think there’s any argument that the less processed foods you consume the better but be aware that some processed foods in your diet are ok, but we largely want to avoid the ultra-processed ones. Ultra-processed foods are highly altered from their original forms and largely made from substances extracted from different foods, such as fats, carbs or starches, sugars and hydrogenated fats. Examples include breakfast biscuits or cereals, some snack bars, crisps, salami, sausages, ice-creams, cakes. Processed foods on the other hand are foods that have undergone some sort of change or processing (large or small) that alters it from the natural state. This could be as simple as freezing or dicing eg. Frozen cauliflower rice. Processed foods aren’t necessarily bad, but we do want to prioritise as many whole foods (foods as close to their natural state as possible) in order for good health long term.  

It’s important to read food labels and to try to largely choose processed or packaged products that have cleaner ingredients lists and whole food products listed as the top ingredients on the labels too.

Macronutrient break down:

Traditionally, a Western style breakfast is heavy carb and generally lacks protein and fibre which is a terrible mix for blood sugar control and satiety. A well-balanced breakfast should ideally contain a portion of wholegrain carbs for energy and fibre, some healthy fats for satiety and hormones and some protein to help support metabolic health and the feeling of fullness. Adding in some fruit at breakfast can also help you achieve some additional nutrients and fibre in your day. If you’re after some practical breakfast suggestions which incorporate the above nutritional profile, check out my top 10 breakfast choices below.

If you want to take your health hacks one step further, consider linking your Garmin Connect with My Fitness Pal and entering in a few days of your meals to see what sort of macronutrient intake you’re achieving. Just be mindful that tracking apps can sometimes contain errors and the calories burned and consumed are often a rough guide only so adjust these numbers based on the results you are seeing. 

Sweet or savory?

There hasn’t been a large amount of research in this area but what we do know is that balanced breakfasts are those that don’t spike your blood sugar levels too much as when they do spike, this can lead to poor energy and concentration, increases in hunger and cravings and inflammation long term. To keep blood sugar levels stable, aim for breakfast with a good macro and micronutrient break down (as above). A sweet breakfast is ok to have if it is balanced with protein, healthy fats and fibre and preferrable from whole food or minimally processed food sources.

Dietitian’s top 10 breakfast choices:

  1. Eggs on wholegrain toast with vegetables cooked in olive oil and garlic
  2. Overnight oats with chia seeds, nut butter and a protein boost from either protein powder or high protein yoghurt.
  3. Smoothie with milk, fruit, nut butter and protein powder.
  4. Mini quiches with grated veggies and cheese.
  5. Bean shakshuka topped with goats cheese.
  6. Cottage cheese on multigrain sourdough with sliced tomato and basil
  7. Avocado on multigrain sourdough with smoked salmon and dill
  8. Low carb, high protein toast with banana, honey and cinnamon
  9. Baked berry oats served with Greek yoghurt
  10. Vegetarian breakfast multigrain wrap: scrambled eggs, black beans, capsicum, mushrooms and spinach.

Garmin Connect and MyFitnessPal
Your Garmin Connect account can also be linked to a MyFitnessPal account in order to sync calorie data that can aid in reaching your exercise and diet goals.

MyFitnessPal offers detailed nutritional insights, including macronutrient breakdowns (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) and micronutrient information. The platform also provides a vast database of foods and beverages, making it easy to accurately log meals and snacks. By combining this data with Garmin Connect’s activity tracking, you will gain a holistic understanding of your nutritional needs and how your diet impacts your overall health and fitness performance.

By combining this comprehensive nutritional data with Garmin’s activity tracking, goal setting, and community support, you can take control of your fitness journey and work towards your health and wellness goals more effectively.