Get cracking and rethink your breakfast with a pop of protein - Nutrition

It’s time to change your breakfast traditions

bowl of oat granola with yogurt, fresh raspberries, blueberries
A bowl of low sugar granola with a dollop of natural yoghurt and some fruit for breakfast will help keep away mid-morning munchies (samael334/Getty Images)

What did you have for breakfast today? Do you start your day with a decent breakfast, or is the thought of eating something first thing just too much to handle?

If you have a busy day ahead of you, eating breakfast could be a game changer. When you get it right, you will be fuelling your body and feeding your brain for optimal performance. You could notice a difference in energy levels, your ability to handle stress, your concentration and focus, appetite and even your weight.

I think it is time to rethink our traditional breakfast habits and shake things up a bit. If we shift away from cereal and toast and start prioritising protein for our first meal of the day, we are eating in a way that works with your body’s natural circadian rhythm to help keep you more sustained and energised throughout the morning. In fact, there is even evidence to suggest that eating more protein at breakfast can help us avoid that 3pm energy slump.

So what are you waiting for? Let’s get cracking and rethink your breakfast...

Perfect soft boiled egg on a table. Traditional food for healthy breakfast. Close-up shot.
Eggs will add a pop of protein to your breakfast (Derkien/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Start your day with a protein-based breakfast

A tablespoon or two of mixed nuts and seeds, a couple of eggs, or a little pot of natural or Greek yoghurt all work to add an extra pop of protein to your breakfast.

Notice how you feel when you up the protein at breakfast. Do you feel fuller? More focused? Less stressed? In better form?

Here are five of my favourite protein-based breakfasts:
  1. Greek yoghurt with nuts, seeds and berries.
  2. Omelettes, loaded with tasty morsels like tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach, and herbs. Add a little feta or cottage cheese for extra protein.
  3. A low sugar granola – add a spoonful of flaxseed, and serve with natural yoghurt and fruit.
  4. Overnight oats – add any nuts and seeds you like for that little protein hit.
  5. Protein porridge – before you reach for the protein powder, all you need to do is pop a spoonful of chia and the same of flaxseed into your regular porridge. Jumbo oats could be a better choice, as they tend to be lower GI and may help you to feel fuller for longer.

Eat within an hour of two of getting up

If your morning is going to be busy, you are going to need fuel. If you skip breakfast, your body will trigger adrenalin, potentially adding to the stress load of your morning.

Eating a nourishing breakfast could help with mental and physical wellbeing. If you like to do intermittent fasting, try shifting your eating window a little earlier – for example, have breakfast around 8am and finish eating after dinner around 6pm if you can.

This means that you are timing your nutrition to meet the energy demands of the day, rather than going to bed with a belly full of food if you skip breakfast and eat later.

Find a breakfast that suits you

If you are not a breakfast eater, try some yoghurt with berries and nuts, or try a homemade protein shake with milk, yoghurt, fresh or frozen berries and some chia or flaxseed.

Add a scoop of good quality protein power if you like, but check the ingredients and go for one that is as natural as possible. Purition or Pulsin are decent brands to look out for.

Oatmeal porridge bowl with blueberries, cranberries and almonds and cup of green tea. Concept of healthy lifestyle, healthy eating, fitness menu and dieting
Porridge topped with fruit and nuts makes a delicious, protein-dense breakfast that can help keep you going all day (Arx0nt/Getty Images)

Think outside the cereal box

The cereal aisle of any supermarket is shouting louder than most to get your attention. With claims like protein-boosted, reduced fat and no-added-sugar, even the colour and branding of the packs can lead you into a false sense of security.

Most breakfast cereals have some nutritional black mark against them – either they are loaded with sugar, low in fibre or ultra processed, and they are not as healthy as their marketing team would have us believe.

So how do you know if you are choosing a decent cereal? I would suggest you ignore the health claims on the front of the pack and take a closer look at the nutrition panel on the back.

Check out the sugar content first – your goal here is 5g or less per 100g. Then take a look at the fibre content - 6g or more packs a decent hit of fibre.

Check the ingredients list and make sure you can recognise all the ingredients something you’d find in your own kitchen. If there are ingredients with complicated sounding names or that you don’t recognise as food, then it doesn’t deserve a place in your trolley, never mind in your diet.

Low sugar granola, jumbo oats and Weetabix are decent choices.