Category Archives: The Best OF Breakfast

Weight-loss tips for men

Weight-loss expert Andrew Dickson shares information and advice for men who are wanting to lose weight.

I work with blokes who want to manage their weight better, and I’ve found they share a common belief: the amount of energy eaten on a particular day minus the amount of energy burnt equals how much fat they lose. But the science isn’t that simple.

In my experience, men often apply this half-truth by skipping meals (usually breakfast) to try and reduce their total intake of food over a day. I certainly did this when I weighed over 130 kilos. Unfortunately, this makes weight management almost impossible, as it causes the metabolism to slow down to prevent starvation. Eating like this actually stops you burning energy.

If you skip breakfast and eat your evening meal at around 7pm, the body has been without fuel for more than half the day – 7pm to lunchtime the next day is 17 hours or 70% of a 24-hour period. This means you actually eat most of your total energy intake in about seven hours. During the 17 hours without food, your metabolism slows and your body shuts down many non-essential functions. When you do eventually eat, your body will store as much as it can to try and compensate for the starvation time. This starts a dangerous cycle of starve-store-starve, and results in more body fat and lower performance.

An alternative is to try and eat a third of your daily energy intake between waking and lunchtime – breakfast and morning tea. Get another third of sustenance between 12pm to 6pm – lunch and afternoon tea. And get your final third of daily energy intake between 6pm and bedtime – dinner and a supper-time snack. This is ideal, and what I have adopted over the past two years.

And it all starts at the beginning of your day – just add breakfast. This increases your total energy intake but incredibly, you will likely lose weight. I have seen success from this simple change in eating habits in the blokes I am helping.

Top tips for blokes

  • Never skip breakfast. Even if it is a couple of pieces of toast with Vegemite or a meal replacement drink, breakfast kick-starts your metabolism.
  • Eat regularly. Work out when during the day you need to eat by dividing the amount of hours you are awake by six.
    eg. wake at 7am, sleep at 10pm = 15 awake hours.
    15 ÷ 6 = 2.5 hours. This means don’t leave more than 2.5 hours between eating.
  • Snacking is good. Eat three main meals and three substantial snacks every day.

Great snack ideas

  • Morning tea: Fruit with a decent amount of protein like bananas, berries, kiwifruit or avocado and about 25 grams of nuts like Brazil nuts.
  • Afternoon tea: A pottle of yoghurt and a wholemeal Vegemite sandwich.
  • After-dinner snack: Frozen yoghurt and a couple of gingernuts.

Gluten-free breakfast – the hardest meal of the day?

When I was first told that I shouldn’t be eating gluten, the meal I had the most difficulty with was breakfast.

I’ll come back to lunch, which has its own challenges, in another post! Dinner turned out to be surprisingly easy. All my favourite breakfast foods – porridge, muesli, French toast, pancakes and the like – were out. What could I replace them with? Here are some suggestions.

Toast

The good old staple of toast. Whilst gluten-free bread, in the main, is not as nice as bread with gluten, it actually makes up into a nice toast. In fact, I would recommend eating gluten-free bread toasted almost all the time, as it’s far better than eating it as fresh bread. Most spreads are gluten-free, and you can use avocado, hummus and other healthy toppings for a bit of variety.

Muesli

There are a number of excellent muesli-type cereals readily available. Both Hubbards and Healtheries make reasonably priced options – and have a good variety of flavours, stocked at all of the supermarkets. My favourite is the Healtheries High Fibre muesli, as it has the best fibre content of the commercial mueslis that I have looked at. If you can spend a little more money, the Brookfield Farms Macadamia muesli is very good, and available at New Worlds and most Countdowns. There are also any number of boutique mueslis available. The one I like the best is Cec’s Gluten-free Muesli (which can be purchased from their website, www.cecsmuesli.co.nz) but again, it’s more expensive. I tend to buy one of the expensive ones and two of the cheaper, everyday ones and mix them together. If you’re keen on trying new muesli, I strongly recommend attending the Gluten Free Food & Allergy Show, as there are many on display there! The other option is to make your own, and there are some excellent recipes around for this.

Porridge

Both Healtheries and Hubbards do a rice porridge offering. I add some dried cranberries and currants for a bit of extra flavour. Opinion is divided about oats. Some research (especially overseas) suggests that the amount of gluten per milligram is so tiny that oats are not considered to contain gluten. If you buy packet biscuit mixes from overseas, they will often contain oats. However, the requirements in New Zealand are a little more stringent, and oats are considered to contain gluten. I think this is one of those topics where you need to make the decision for yourself, but the prevailing advice is for coeliacs to stay away from oats.

Cooked breakfasts

In some ways, cooked breakfasts are easiest. Thin, crepe-like pancakes and waffles both translate very well to a gluten-free version. Simply replace the normal flour with gluten-free flour, and add a little vanilla or cinnamon. You may need a little more liquid as the gluten-free flour tends to suck that up more than normal flour. French toast is a little harder, but you can make it using gluten-free bread and because of the eggs and milk, it does jazz up bread that is a day or two old. I’d suggest something like Bakeworks pull-apart buns sliced thickly rather than the sliced loaves of gluten-free bread.

Café breakfasts

In cafés it is uncommon to have gluten-free options for muesli, but many cafés nowadays have gluten-free bread available. I tend to make up a ‘sides’ breakfast – mushrooms, bacon, avocado and gluten-free toast. Hash browns, or hash potatoes, are also gluten-free. A couple of things to watch for with café breakfasts are:

  • Is the bacon gluten-free? I know it sounds odd, but some bacon contains gluten. I guess it must be injected, but can’t figure out why they would do this!
  • Cross-contamination – this is where the items are cooked in the same place as items containing gluten. For example, a grill where burger buns are cooked and also steak, or a pancake pan which does both gluten and gluten-free pancakes. It’s worth checking with the kitchen to find out what they do.
  • Creamy mushrooms – you should always check that this is just a cream sauce. I’ve had experiences where the mushrooms have been cooked in a sauce with a flour base rather than cream.

Hotel breakfasts

Breakfast buffets at hotels can be great for those who are gluten intolerant. Most hotels have gluten-free bread for toasting if you ask, however the toasting machines have breadcrumbs and so on from normal bread, so this is probably not a great option. Most of the hot buffet foods work well for the gluten intolerant – bacon, mushrooms, scrambled eggs, tomatoes – but stay away from the sausages unless they specify that they are gluten-free. There is never any gluten-free cereal on display, but sometimes they have it if you ask. There is normally fresh fruit and yoghurt, so you can have quite a good breakfast!

Additional breakfast tips and tricks

Work mornings can be difficult, and if we don’t manage to eat breakfast at home, it’s much harder for the gluten intolerant to just pop to a nearby café and pick up a Danish or a bagel. To make weekday mornings easier, I keep cereal, gluten-free bread (in the freezer) and yoghurt at my office and tend to eat there.

Like everything else related to eating gluten-free, with a bit of preparation and a willingness to ask questions of the kitchen staff, you can easily cope with breakfasts.

Extreme makeover: Big breakfast

It’s a favourite weekend meal. But do you know how much energy and fat is hiding in it?

Try these tips to make your weekend brunch that bit healthier:

  • Streaky bacon can be up to 1/4 fat. Use Dansk, middle or eye bacon; it has much less fat and kilojoules. It needs careful cooking – don’t over-cook or it’ll be leathery. But the taste is just as good.
  • Pre-made hash browns have 530kJ and 5.7g of fat per serving. And it pays to check the pack: on some a serving is only one hash brown!
  • Instead try oven-baked cubed potatoes: cut a potato into 1cm cubes and bake with a light spray of oil in a hot oven. Just as quick as hash browns and much healthier, with barely any fat.
  • If you fry your eggs and use butter or oil, you’ll add still more fat. Opt for microwave eggs: scramble or poach eggs in the microwave and you don’t have to add any fat at all. For scrambled, just cook beaten egg in a bowl for around 2 minutes on medium, then break up with a fork. We hear this is how some restaurants do it!
  • Add some oven-roasted tomatoes for a vege boost: add these to the dish when you cook the potatoes and they’ll be collapsing and sweet by the time they come out.

How they compare

Traditional fry-up:
3 rashers streaky bacon, 2 hash browns, 2 eggs, 1 tomato
Total energy per serve = 2400kJ
Total fat per serve = 47g (22g saturated)

HFG breakfast:
3 rashers Dansk bacon, 2 scrambled eggs, 1 roasted tomato, 1 cubed potato
Total energy per serve = 1500kJ
Total fat per serve = 16g (4g saturated)

How to super-charge your breakfast

What can the most important meal of the day do for you? We have expert advice on the most tasty and nutritious breakfasts.

Nutritionists believe there is great logic in the old saying, “Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dine like a pauper”, because the best way to kick-start your body in the morning is to give it the right fuel.

The word ‘breakfast’ literally means to ‘break the fast’ from the eight or 12 hours since your last meal the night before. By morning, your brain and muscles are crying out for starter fuel to spring them into action and face the day ahead.

Why is breakfast so important?

Eating breakfast has been identified as one of seven healthy habits that promote long life and good health.

Three keys reasons not to skip breakfast:

1. It boosts your nutrient intake

Studies in the USA and UK dating back as far as the early 1960s consistently show that breakfast eaters have better overall diets. Breakfast eaters have been shown to have a lower fat intake, a higher fibre intake, plus significantly higher intakes of almost all vitamins and minerals, especially calcium, iron and magnesium.

2. It improves memory and concentration

Nutrition researchers have found that people who eat a balanced breakfast can concentrate better and are more efficient at their work than those who skip it. For kids, there’s no doubt that breakfast is a must. Studies show that children who miss breakfast are less alert during the late morning hours and find it hard to concentrate on tasks that require prolonged mental effort.

Factory workers who skip breakfast have been found to be more prone to accidents and have a lower production output compared to those who have something to eat in the morning.

3. It helps prevent binge eating

Contrary to the beliefs of those who skip breakfast in the hope of losing weight, breakfast is a good friend. Skipping it means we are more likely to over-eat later in the day, usually something that’s quick to hand or a non-nutritious, high-fat fast food.

Breakfast nutrition

Unless you have a physically demanding job or play a lot of sport, a light cereal-and-toast style of breakfast is perfectly adequate and will meet all your nutrition needs. Comparisons with other breakfasts like egg and bacon, scrambled eggs, croissants, cheese on toast and banana smoothies show that cereal-based breakfasts are nutritionally superior, being lower in fat, cholesterol and kilojoules and higher in fibre and essential nutrients.

Here’s a checklist of healthy breakfast options:

Fruit

Eaten whole or sliced over cereal. To save time, prepare a plate of sliced fruit the night before and leave in the refrigerator. Melon slices, kiwifruit, berries, grapefruit segments, papaya or oranges in quarters are all good choices.

Fruit juice is a quick alternative with the same valuable vitamin C, but has little fibre. Vitamin C also improves the absorption of iron from cereals. Prunes, sultanas and other dried fruit add fibre and the mineral potassium.

Grains

Many people get most of their fibre for the day at breakfast so it pays to maximise your fibre intake at this meal. Aim for a mix of soluble fibre such as oats, for a healthy heart, and insoluble fibre such as wheat bran for regularity and bowel health.

Choose a non-sugary whole grain or bran type cereal, or else go for muesli or rolled oats (porridge) in winter. There’s no shortage of choice at the supermarket. Sprinkling some wheatgerm, rice bran or oat bran over a plainer puffed or flaked cereal will boost your nutrition. Many cereals are now fortified with B vitamins and iron which, along with the milk that is consumed with them, makes them a nutritious food.

If you prefer toast or muffins to cereal, make these wholemeal, mixed grain or white high-fibre if your kids hate ‘brown bread’.

Milk, yoghurt or cheese

These offer calcium for strong bones and protein as well as the B vitamin riboflavin. Many children are happy to drink a glass of milk (or hot milk with malt chocolate powder in winter) with breakfast. Cottage cheese and ricotta team nicely with raisin toast and make a good low-fat option, but are not as rich in calcium as cheddar cheese or yoghurt.

Eggs (boiled, poached, microwaved or lightly scrambled), or baked beans

These are ideal if you’re super hungry or want a hearty Sunday brunch. Add mushrooms, tomatoes or spinach for more bulk.

Breakfasts to suit different lifestyles

Ideas for breakfast-on-the-run

Scale up the servings to suit your activity and lifestyle. If you exercise regularly or have a physically demanding job, you will need larger portions, or a cooked breakfast to refuel your body, than if you don’t get to exercise much or are trying to lose weight.

No time to eat in the mornings?

Try our quick and easy ideas:

Breakfast at home

  • Try a liquid meal. Pour one cup of milk into a blender or food processor with any cut fruit (banana, strawberries, pear), 3-4 tablespoons of yoghurt and a pinch of nutmeg. Blend for 30 seconds until smooth and frothy. For a high-fibre shake, add 1-2 tablespoons of bran cereal or wheatgerm. Drink and run.
  • A bowl of muesli or bran cereal with low-fat milk and sliced banana.
  • Bircher muesli: start this famous oat breakfast the night before: Soak 1 cup of rolled oats and 2 tablespoons sultanas in 3/4 cup low-fat milk and leave covered in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, peel and grate an apple (with the skin) into the oats with a squeeze of lemon juice. Top with 2-3 tablespoons of yoghurt and a sliced banana if you’re ravenous.
    Serves 3-4.
  • An orange or half a grapefruit.
  • Half a grain muffin, toasted and topped with cottage cheese or a slice of cheddar cheese.
  • Muffin with grilled cheese.

In the car, train or bus

Bolt out the door with

  • A sandwich you’ve made the night before plus a carton of flavoured milk.
  • A breakfast bar or muesli bar and a drinking yoghurt.
  • Throw a handful of Mini-Wheats, dried fruit and nuts into a plastic bag or container. Munch on the way to school with a carton of milk.

Gluten-free or wheat-free options

  • Avoiding wheat, oats and barley at breakfast is not easy! Look for cereals based on rice or corn (maize).
  • Fresh fruit salad with a bowl of Rice Bubbles or Corn Flakes (check for malt if you need to avoid it). Add cows’ milk or soy milk.
  • Rice cakes or rice crackers spread with margarine can replace toast. Add peanut butter, jam or marmalade as required. Tea, coffee or milk.
  • Eggs with tomato on gluten-free toast.

Breakfast out before work

Try these healthy café options

  • Thick fruit loaf toasted and topped with ricotta or cottage cheese. Cappuccino, flat white or latte with trim milk.
  • Grilled cheese and tomato on grainy toast. English breakfast tea.
  • Poached or scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast with mushrooms and grilled tomato. Glass of fresh juice.
  • Fresh strawberries or diced melon tossed in a bowl with passionfruit pulp. Top with thick Greek yoghurt and  crunchy muesli.
  • Wholemeal muffin topped with grilled mushrooms or sliced tomato and a large glass of reduced-fat milk.
  • Milky coffee (latte, flat white) with bran and raisin muffin.

Breakfast and kids

Children need to start the day with a good breakfast. Breakfast functions as ‘brain food’, re-fuelling children’s brains as well as their bodies. Deprive children of breakfast and you may be depriving them of their ability to learn. Study after study shows that children who skip breakfast report tiredness and lethargy, have trouble concentrating on the morning’s lessons, and find complex mental tasks difficult.

Breakfast enhances

  • working memory
  • problem-solving abilities
  • accuracy in maths and other complex tasks (which teachers often schedule for the morning)
  • creative thinking

Breakfast makes a significant contribution to children’s overall nutrient intakes, according to the many studies on breakfast eating patterns. Children who eat breakfast tend to have a much healthier diet and are more likely to be consuming their recommended intakes of key nutrients such as iron, calcium, B vitamins and fibre. Children who skip breakfast do not make up the differences in dietary intake at other meals. A higher percentage of skippers do not meet two-thirds of the recommended intake for vitamins and minerals compared to those who eat breakfast.

Most children miss breakfast for two or three reasons: lack of time, being too tired, or not feeling like eating in the morning. If this sounds like your child, offer something light like fruit or a bowl of flake cereal with milk. Eating breakfast often helps them to wake up!
If he or she wants to rush off to school without eating, give them a breakfast bar to munch on the way to school or even a glass of milk, so at least they have something to see them through the morning. This combination is preferable to arriving at school with nothing to eat – it will still provide carbohydrate, some protein, B vitamins and fibre, depending on the cereal.

Choose a good cereal

“It’s better to eat the cardboard box than the cereal” is often chuckled over when buying cereals. But the truth is that even the sugary kids’ packet cereals today make a contribution to nutrition (especially with milk) and are better than having nothing to eat for the morning. Certainly they aren’t ideal in terms of fibre and whole grain content but they are inexpensive, low in fat, fortified with a range of vitamins and minerals and can be eaten as a snack any time of the day.

That said, how do you pick a good cereal?

Fibre: More than 6g per 100g minimum. Preferably more than 10g/100g or more

Sugar: Less than 15g per 100g; Less than 25g per 100g if from dried fruit

Sodium: For a low-sodium diet, look for less than 400mg per 100g

High fibre: Look for a minimum of 6g fibre per 100g, but preferably about 10g. Check the list of ingredients for wheat bran, whole wheat, whole barley, oats, brown rice. Oats and corn are always whole grain but what, rice and barley are often refined. Bran cereals (All-Bran, Sultana Bran) have 6-9g per serve, while Corn Flakes and Rice Bubbles are down at 1g.

NZ adults should aim for 25-30g fibre each day,but man get a lot less. An easy way to increase your fibre is to choose a high-fibre cereal like All-Bran and start the day with over a third of your requirement.

Low sugar

Look for less than 15g added sugar per 100g serving. When a cereal has dried fruit, you can’t tell from the nutrition panel how much is coming from the fruit and the added sugar, so you can allow a higher sugar level (up to 25g per 100g). The dried fruit adds fibre and vitamins.

Sodium (salt)

If you are watching your sodium intake for health reasons, look for a cereal with under 400mg per 100g.

Serving size

The standard serve of cereal used to be 30g, which means one cup of bubbles or flakes or two breakfast biscuits. Some manufacturers have decided to say a serve is 40g in an effort to claim the ‘highest fibre content’ or the ‘most vitamins’. So to get a true comparison, it’s best to use the 100g column when you’re looking at similar products.

Super-active

For those who burn up lots of kilojoules with a physically demanding job or are into sports in a big way, here are two hunger-buster breakfasts:

  • Fresh fruit salad; cheese omelette with wholemeal toast; tea, coffee, milk or juice.
  • Bowl of whole grain cereal with sliced banana and low-fat milk; crumpet, toasted and covered with a slice of cheese and grilled until melted; tea, coffee, milk or juice.

There are good reasons not to skip breakfast if you’re exercising but trying to lose body fat. Skipping breakfast reduces the quality of your training session due to lower blood glucose levels. It also makes you hungry and invariably leads to impulsive snacking and increased kilojoule intake later in the day.

How good is the liquid breakfast?

They taste good and they’re quick – grab one from the fridge and drink it in the car or bus – and Sanitarium’s Up&Go® claims to contain the goodness and fibre of two Weet-Bix with milk, although a quick glance at the ingredients list will tell you that it is not a liquefied version of that.

The fibre is from chicory inulin, which acts like soluble fibre. This is fermented in the gut. Soluble fibre from oats has been shown to be good for heart health.  Insoluble fibre, found in whole grains, is good for your bowels.

Nutritionists are cautious about comparing the fibre from inulin with the fibre from cereals, which have been well researched over many years. While there is good evidence so far that inulin has a positive effect on health, there is still a lot of research to be done to fully understand whether it is as good. Plant foods contain other nutrients, and fibre is not the whole story as to why whole grain cereals are so good for us.

Our advice

They’re a handy alternative when you’re in a rush, but plan to include insoluble fibres from whole grains and brans in your breakfast on most days. And be aware that they’re high in sugar: one Up&Go® has 18.5g, one CalciTrim Liquid Breakfast has 19.5g – both are more than 4 teaspoons – of sugar.