What our health experts eat for breakfast - and why

25 August 2020

When it comes to what we eat, we are all so different; we all have our own preferences and nutritional requirements, so there’s no one size fits all for any diet. But that’s certainly no bad thing! With breakfast being a meal that has come under some scrutiny or been made unnecessarily confusing over recent years, we wanted to share what our health experts eat to set them up for the day ahead, to show just how diverse a breakfast can be.

Gina Camfield, Programme Lead Physiologist & Nutritionist

Breakfast: Berry and Cinnamon Overnight Oats  

On days when I’m training I try to have a substantial breakfast and these overnight oats give me the energy I need to perform at my best both when exercising and in day to day life. I have tried SO MANY variations on overnight oats as it’s a great way to experiment with different flavours or ingredients. 

Oats are incredibly nutritious and contain an abundance of carbohydrates, fibre, minerals and vitamins. I sometimes swap out dairy milk for soya milk  when I make this recipe as it offers an alternative flavour. Then you have the cinnamon - a great way to sweeten things up without adding sugar! Chia seeds and crushed walnuts add a nice crunch and provide Omega 3 fatty acids which are important in maintaining a healthy heart. Then to top it off I throw in some frozen berries as a refreshing touch but to also boost my antioxidants, which are essential for healthy immune function.

Daniel Craig, Senior Physiologist

Breakfast: Three wheat breakfast bars with whole milk, an orange, protein shake with banana and a black coffee (the stronger the better!)

I try to get a decent hit of carbohydrate and protein in the morning as this normally follows some morning exercise (either a home workout or a decent length, brisk walk for 45 mins), and helps to set me up for the day. I also aim to get a good amount of protein in to support with any workouts I do later in the day. I tend not to eat lots after the late afternoon, and I find this breakfast gives me a good sense of energy and alertness for the working day. The overall water content here also helps to rehydrate after a long night’s good sleep! 

Fun fact / myth buster: don’t be worried about whole milk because it’s ‘full fat’. A pint of whole milk will have approx. 130 kcal versus 100 kcal for semi-skimmed, and it’s naturally around 5% fat – which is already pretty low to start with! And let’s face it, it tastes a lot better too. 

Raj Kundhi, Physiologist  

Breakfast: Banana pancakes with blueberries and natural yoghurt topped with nuts 

Mixed nuts (walnuts and almonds are a favourite combination) don’t only add some texture and crunch but also provide an excellent source of fatty acids which promotes the “good” cholesterol.

Finlay Haswell, Junior Physiologist

Breakfast: Avocado and eggs on toast with roasted cherry tomatoes – it’s an all-round winner. 

Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. After a lovely 8 hours sleep, I like to wake up slow and break my fast with something delicious! Not only does this breakfast taste incredible, but it also has a bunch of health benefits.

I tend to opt for Rye because I just love the earthiness of the taste. Compared with regular breads, such as white and whole wheat, rye bread is typically higher in fibre and provides more micronutrients, especially B vitamins.

Always free range, blue eggs are my favourite because the yolk is always so orange. As a vegetarian, I need to make sure I’m getting enough protein. Eggs are a great source of high-quality protein. Both the white and yolk of an egg are rich in nutrients, including proteins, vitamins and minerals. Although egg yolks contain more calories and fat than the egg white, it is also a source of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, as well as being delicious.

Mash the avocado with a dash of salt and a little fresh lemon juice. Avocados have a very low glycaemic index (GI) but are rich in healthy fats, fibre, vitamins, and minerals. 

Roast the tomatoes in the oven with a dash of salt, olive oil and sometimes the tiniest (half teaspoon) of honey, to really bring out their sweetness. Tomatoes are a great source of vitamin A, C and E, some B vitamins and vitamin K. They also contribute some minerals including calcium and magnesium. The salt and honey are just for my own taste. Also, I recommend drizzling the leftover oil over your eggs.

Tom Rothwell, Programme Lead Physiologist 

Breakfast: Greek yoghurt, mixed berries and oats

Greek yoghurt offers a strong kick of protein in the morning, in a meal where protein can often be lacking. Protein is one of the best nutrients that keeps us full for longer. It also has the added benefit of being a probiotic, meaning it helps our gut bacteria flourish and this benefits many other systems such as our immune system. Berries are a nutritional powerhouse! Not only do they count towards your 5 a day, fibre intake and provide a slow release of energy, they’re full of anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals too! Adding a small serving of oats just makes the texture much nicer for me personally, and also adds plenty of fibre, slow releasing energy and additional vitamins and minerals, including manganese, phosphorus, B vitamins, iron and selenium.

Anthony Glock, Junior Physiologist

Breakfast: High protein yogurt and a handful of cashews.

If I’m doing a workout first thing I’ll have a protein shake (made up of a scoop of protein powder with 400ml milk), then have my usual breakfast a bit later on.

The yogurt is high in protein, fat free and low in sugar. Protein is essential for people who are very active to repair muscles and bones following a hard workout. Being fat free and low in sugar it helps to keep the calories low, allowing me to stay within my daily calorie requirements. Cashews provide protein but also contain important vitamins and minerals such as iron and vitamin E. Iron is needed to create red blood cells while vitamin E is important in supporting the immune system to help keep those colds away. Vitamin E is also an important antioxidant which can help protect us against harmful free radicals.

Anna Fountain, Junior Physiologist

Breakfast: Poached eggs, avocado and yeast spread on wholegrain toast. 

I find this breakfast quick and easy but also really tasty and filling. I opt for a couple of eggs for breakfast as they are one of nature’s most nutrient-dense foods. They are a complete protein source, meaning they contain all the essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein) that we need in our diet. Protein is highly satiating so having eggs for breakfast helps me feel fuller for longer.  

I also have half a large avocado. I either mash the avocado with lemon juice, seasoning and a little bit of water to make it nice and creamy, or simply cut it into slices. Avocado is another nutrient rich ingredient, as it’s an excellent source of mono-unsaturated fatty acids (healthy fatty acids), which helps to promote our HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Avocado is also a great source of many vitamins and half an avocado counts as one of your five a day! On days I don’t have avocado, I might have some fried mushrooms and tomatoes instead. If I’m feeling extra peckish, I might have the avocado as well as the mushrooms and tomatoes, getting more of my 5 a day in. 

I always opt for wholegrain over white toast as the wholegrain variety will contain more fibre, which can help to keep your bowels healthy and can help you feel fuller. I have a yeast spread on my toast, mainly because I love it (a lot), but a bonus of adding it is that it contains B vitamins and folic acid. 

Daniel Poulter, Physiologist

Breakfast: Mixed berry protein smoothie

I have previously found it difficult to consistently eat breakfast as I am generally on the move with very little time to make anything. However, personally I have found that this protein smoothie recipe to be the best of both worlds. It is super quick to make and is nutritionally dense, rich in fibre and micronutrients. This helps to keep me full throughout the morning with fibre from some added oats and protein content from the milk and protein powder. The great thing about smoothies is that you can change up the recipe really easily. This makes it constantly new and refreshing, without ever becoming boring.

With a whole host of different breakfasts, our physiologists’ choices show that no one food is the best when it comes to breakfast. Personal taste and enjoyment is important when it comes to eating and we hope this sparks some inspiration if you’re wondering what to make for breakfast tomorrow morning. And we’d love to see! Share what’s on your plate (or in your bowl!) in the morning with us over on Instagram, we’re @AXAPPPhealth.

Sources:

Food Data Central - Bread, white, commercially prepared

The health benefits of tomatoes - BBC Good Food