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Breakfast of Champions

Long days in real estate mean you need lots of energy to go the distance. If you start your day with the right breakfast, says exercise scientist Emily Schofield, you may even add to your brain power as well as your stamina.

WORKING with mostly busy corporate clients and knowing the type of energy and mental focus that goes into each day, I always stress the importance of a balanced breakfast. For most people, starting the day with a high-carbohydrate meal is standard – muesli, toast, breakfast cereal, and so on. Such breakfasts are promoted due to the belief that starting your day with high carbohydrates results in high energy.

Assuming that you are opting for sustained energy throughout the day, most of these choices are not ideal. It is hardly surprising that after consuming a breakfast of high GI carbohydrates most people turn straight to caffeine; your blood sugar is crashing because of the insulin rush. Spiking blood sugar and insulin with high GI carbohydrates first thing in the morning is exactly what not to do when working towards a better body composition and sustained energy.

I have several new clients who tell me they do not eat breakfast – they are never hungry in the morning! Not being hungry is a sign of a slow metabolism, particularly at breakfast. If you have just fasted for eight hours overnight and are still not hungry, you can be sure that your metabolism has been down- regulated. Skipping breakfast or any meal mostly leads to overeating during the day.

Breakfast is the meal that will determine your entire neurotransmitter production for the day. Eating a breakfast that is high in protein and has a low glycaemic load will raise both dopamine and acetylcholine, the two most important neurotransmitters for focus and drive.

I recommend eggs as a good way to start your day; they are a great source of several vitamins and nutrients, and they are high in protein. Having eggs as your first meal of the day will guarantee a slow and steady rise in blood sugar, resulting in long-lasting energy. Always eat both yolks and whites: egg yolks are high in choline, which is an essential dietary component for brain development and function of normal cells. Choline is also a precursor for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which relates to memory, arousal and learning. An estimated 90 per cent of the population does not get the recommended amount of choline per day.

Keeping the GIycaemic Index of your first meal low is also imperative to having a good body composition. GI relates to the quality of carbohydrate you are consuming and the impact it has on blood sugar. If you want to tone up or lose fat, you need to be aware of the GI of the carbohydrates you consume; anything above 50 is considered high and will warrant a substantial spike in blood sugar. Oatmeal, a common breakfast choice, is around 60, Cornflakes 76, Weet-bix 69: all significantly higher than 50.

When you start your day with the right breakfast you will have:

  1. Fewer cravings throughout the day. People who eat a high-protein breakfast generally eat less throughout the day. Eating a quality protein source for breakfast not only sets up your neurotransmitters but provides satiety and reduces your cravings for high carbohydrate or fatty foods throughout the day. When you start your day right, the rest tends to follow suit.
  2. Blood sugar regulation. Depending on the quality, carbohydrates are accompanied by a rise in blood sugar, significantly more than that of protein. Take protein at breakfast and eat regular meals throughout the day for steady blood sugar levels and sustained energy.
  3. Overall leaner diet. Eating a high-protein breakfast promotes insulin sensitivity, meaning your carbs are more likely to be used as energy rather than being stored as fat. If you are a bit overweight or have a diet that is chronically high in carbohydrates and sugar, chances are your insulin sensitivity is poor. Having a high-protein breakfast is a great place to start improving your insulin sensitivity and general health.

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Emily Schofield

Emily Schofield is an Exercise Scientist, having completed a Bachelor’s degree in Sport and Exercise Science. She is a Personal Trainer at Ultimate Perfomance in Sydney