Sorry McDonalds fans, no one ever built muscle with a McMuffin and no fat was ever fried with, well, a fry-up.
Unfortunately for lovers of the day’s foremost meal, not all breakfasts are created equal. That said, picked right, the first feast of the day can be used to advantage as well as disadvantage.
Here, according to some of the UK’s top nutritionists and health experts, are the best breakfasts for the day ahead.
Breakfast Of Champions
Best For: Building Muscle
If you’re off to hit the gym with the intention of building muscle, slow-release carbs and protein should be your priority. Sports dietitian Michele Macedonia suggests a homemade souped-up granola: a quarter cup each of granola, rolled oats, chopped almonds and raisins or dried cranberries, topped with low-fat milk. (Pro Tip: add a scoop of unflavoured protein powder to your milk for an extra protein boost.)
“As a post-workout measure to kick start the muscle-repair process, you should be aiming for 20g of additional protein,” adds Macedonia. “6oz of fat-free ricotta, a cup of low-fat Greek yoghurt or 3oz of roast beef or chicken will help you bulk in the right places.”
Best For: Mental Performance
Heading into a big client pitch or exam? BBC Good Food health editor, Roxanne Fisher, says that reading over your notes isn’t the only preparation you should be doing: “Filling up on energy-giving oats and eggs – which contain choline, proven to boost cognitive performance and memory – will help.”
Staying hydrated is also key, as it helps your brain work faster and process better. The NHS recommends 1.2 litres of water a day, so make sure you’re chugging that alongside your nervy espresso before you head into the boardroom or exam hall.
Best For: A Morning Run
When you’re pumping your heart instead of pumping iron, your body needs additional carbs for energy. By eating an hour before you start your session, it gives your body time to break it down.
A low-fat yoghurt and oatmeal topped with fruit or raisins is ideal, but if you haven’t woken up in time for an hour’s digestion, a smoothie will work better. Post-workout, you should be aiming to maximise nutrients within 30 minutes of your cool down: “A slice of wholewheat bread topped with some honey will work perfectly,” says Macedonia.
Best For: A Busy Day
If you know you’re going to be lunching later than usual, prep ahead to avoid rumbles.
Nutritionist Amari Cheffer advises aiming for 10g of fibre and 20g of protein: “A cup of Greek yoghurt combined with some high-fibre cereal (at least 5g per serving) and some blueberries will keep you focused without the need for elevenses.”
Big (Day) Breakfast
Best For: Steady Nerves
You want to feel at your absolute best on a big day – be it your wedding, graduation, or knighthood (maybe one day, hey Becks?).
Founder of Decision Nutrition, Keren Gilbert, suggests fuelling your body with food that will help your blood-sugar slowly rise and fall to avoid any peaks and troughs that could throw you off your game: “A great way to do this is to kick off your big day with a bowl of oatmeal – it contains a lot of fibre to keep your blood sugars steady.”
Don’t Weight Up
Best For: Losing Pounds
If you’re trying to shed some pounds but aren’t heading to the gym, Cheffer suggests swapping your morning latte for a green tea. It still has some caffeine if you’re a morning zombie, but has zero calories.
Next, have a couple of eggs – however you like ‘em in the morning, so long as it’s not fried – and an apple or some raspberries. “Clocking in at around 200 calories, this power combo has around 10g of protein and 7g of fibre – so you should be alright until lunch,” says Cheffer.