Top breakfast swaps!

Want to make sure you have the best possible start to the day? Swap your unhealthy breakfast for these healthier options

Fry up

Why you should avoid it:
The good elements of the traditional fry-up - vitamin-rich eggs, protein-packed pork and heart-healthy beans - are unfortunately curtailed due to dubious preparation and cooking methods.

Swap it for:
"An avocado cup with thin cut steak, walnut chia spinach, grilled mushrooms and fresh asparagus," says George Anderson from RunningByGeorge.com, the official training partner for the Ikano Robin Hood Marathon & Half Marathon 2015 (www.robinhoodhalfmarathon.co.uk)
"Scoop out the stone from half an avocado, along with a little extra flesh. Carve a slice off the bottom so it sits steady, then pour an egg into the hollow. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes at 200°C. For the walnut chia spinach, mix a handful of spinach with a glug of olive oil, a handful of crushed walnuts and a sprinkling of chia seeds. Fry a lean cut of steak in a teaspoon of coconut oil, let it stand for a minute or two then serve with the spinach, grilled mushrooms, avocado cup and freshly steamed asparagus."

Why it's better for you:
"You'll get all the benefits of the healthy protein from the meat and eggs without the toxins found in sausages and highly acidic pork," says George. "The healthy fats from the coconut oil, olive oil, eggs and walnuts will leave you feeling full without the bloating, and the nutrients from the spinach will energise and set you up for the day."

Toast with butter or jam

Why you should avoid it:
"This is a typical carbohydrate-based breakfast," says Louise Sinnah-Burr, a nutritionist and ambassador for Bio-synergy (www.bio-synergy.co.uk). "Carbohydrates are the body's preferred source of fuel in that they are easy to break down into sugars for short-term energy. This results in a boost in energy levels that will quickly drop off. Furthermore, consuming two sources of energy in one meal - fats and carbs - means the body has to process the two using two different processes. This confuses the body, making for less efficient digestion and absorption."

Swap it for:
A high protein and fat meal. Try an omelette with spinach and smoked salmon or a smoothie made with almond or coconut milk, spinach, a tablespoon of almond or cashew butter, berries and a scoop of protein powder.

Why it's better for you:
"Fats are slower-digesting," says Louise, "and, when paired with a whole food protein, which is also slow digesting, they make for stable blood sugar levels and sustainable energy. This meal will also keep you feeling fuller - and more focussed - for longer."

No breakfast

Why you should avoid it:
"If you regularly skip breakfast, the prolonged fasting can lead to a bigger than normal boost in the body's 'hunger hormone' ghrelin, encouraging you to constantly crave food and overeat at your next meal," says Yinka Thomas, a registered nutritionist, health writer and cook with www.guruandgo.com. "Long gaps between dinner and the next meal can lead to you feeling tired, irritable, and less able to concentrate."

Swap it for:
Porridge with semi-skimmed milk and topped with berries.

Why it's better for you:
"Pairing whole grains such as porridge with a protein source such as milk makes the ideal breakfast. If you include fruit as a source of vitamins and minerals, you've given yourself the best possible start to the day."

Croissants and pastries

Why you should avoid them:
"It's all about the fat-storing hormone, insulin, which ensures that the level of glucose in the bloodstream is within the safety limits," says Fiona Kirk, a nutritionist and author of Diet Secrets Uncovered 10-part book series (www.fionakirk.com). "If there is anything more than around two teaspoons circulating at any time, the brain instructs the pancreas to release insulin to ferry the excess glucose off to the body cells to help generate energy. Croissants and pastries may provide a quick energy burst but it is short-lived and this kind of repetitive energy-generation does little other than make us sick and fat in the long term."

Swap them for:
A rye grain cracker or a couple of oatcakes topped with hummus and cucumber.

Why it's better for you:
"Protein and fat-rich meals, like the above, slow down the delivery of glucose into the bloodstream, keep body and brain cells fed but not overfed, help to prevent blood sugar highs and lows and keep us feeling fuller for longer so we are able to avoid cravings for sugar and starch," says Fiona.

Try this!
Swap concentrated orange juice for freshly squeezed juice. "To benefit from their nutritional greatness, sling the natural juices into a blender with some ice, carrots, canteloupe melon and yellow and orange peppers to create a juice that is rich in skin-friendly beta carotene," says Fiona Kirk.

Top tip
Swap caffeine-rich tea or coffee for caffeine-free rooibos tea which is rich in minerals and antioxidants.

Read previous Your Food articles here...

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