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How to enjoy a healthy breakfast

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ShortList’s Danielle Richardson looks into how you can keep your breakfast big while still fending off the fat

The good news: the importance of breakfast was confirmed when a 2003 study in the American Journal Of Epidemiology found that people who skip breakfast are 4.5 times more likely to be obese than people who do eat it. The bad news: it doesn’t count if you eat a bowl of Lucky Charms smeared with Nutella every day.

Whether you need to fuel your muscles for a workout or stop your mid-morning hunger pangs, putting a little more thought into breakfast can have huge body benefits. So we’ve asked the experts to take readers’ favourite breakfast options and give them a supercharged overhaul.

Porridge

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As an alternative to regular porridge, Mike Naylor, performance nutritionist at the English Institute Of Sport (eis2win.co.uk), suggests cold creamy porridge. “Mix 20g porridge oats, 20g All-Bran, 10g oatmeal, 1 tbsp dried cherries, 1 tbsp jojoba berries, 1 tsp sunflower seeds and 1 tsp chopped walnuts, then add 150ml semi-skimmed milk and 1 tbsp of vanilla yoghurt.” The oats, All-Bran and oatmeal fill you up, while the seeds, yoghurt, milk and walnuts provide protein. “You can also change the type of dried fruits and nuts to keep it interesting,” he says.

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Nutrition consultant Alice Mackintosh (thefooddoctor.com) recommends multigrain porridge to stabilise blood sugar and keep you full. “Use different grains, as they contain varying levels of vitamin B, selenium, magnesium and fibre. Mix equal measures of oats, barley flakes, spelt flakes and rye flakes – about 50g in total. You can also add 1 tsp of linseeds for extra fibre. Pour 300ml boiling water or hot milk over the grains and leave for 2 minutes. Cook the porridge for 2-3 minutes before adding quinoa flakes, pumpkin seeds and chopped Brazil nuts for protein. A dusting of cinnamon may also further balance blood sugar and prevent insulin spikes.”

Smoothie

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It’s not all protein shakes. Naylor suggests an altogether fruitier option with this blueberry variety. “Combine 100g blueberries, a banana, 100g natural Greek yoghurt and top up with 100-200ml milk. This smoothie is perfect after a training session, as it is high in antioxidants and protein, and great for muscle recovery. The banana also replenishes your energy.”

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Dietician Sarah Schenker (sarahschenker.co.uk) suggests a filling, fruity smoothie recipe you can make the night before. “Soak 2 tbsp oatmeal in 120ml apple juice, then blend a small banana, 2 handfuls of chopped strawberries and 1-2 tbsp low fat yoghurt. This provides slow energy release and additional protein and calcium from the yoghurt.”

Cooked breakfast

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As delicious as fatty sausages and fried black pudding can be, it’s not the healthiest option. To support a big training day, Naylor suggests going for poached eggs, a couple of rashers of lean, grilled bacon from your local butcher, a

slice of multiseed toast and grilled mushrooms and tomatoes. “By grilling and poaching, this breakfast is lower in fat, moderate in carbs and high in protein. The mushrooms offer B vitamins to support energy production, and tomatoes are rich in vitamin C to support your immune system.”

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It may not have the traditional hallmarks of a full English, but here’s a breakfast that’s just as tasty – and gets your metabolism moving. Jai Roberts-Brouwer, personal trainer at Park Plaza’s Laguna Health & Spa, Cardiff (lagunahealthandspa.com), recommends grilled steak with scrambled eggs and a dash of Tabasco. “It’s a high-protein breakfast, rich in good fats and essential Omega 3 oils, and naturally occurring creatine that will give you a metabolic boost,” he says.And it might be worth swapping the usual cup of builder’s tea, too. Try Pukka’s new Good Morning black tea (pukkaherbs.com) with organic, Fairtrade whole-leaf Nam Lanh tea. It aids digestive health and reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Eggs

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For a variation on bog-standard fried or scrambled eggs on toast, Naylor’s come up with a training-enhancing salmon, eggs and spinach breakfast. “Take two eggs and either poach or scramble them. Serve on a toasted seeded crumpet with 100g smoked salmon and two handfuls of steamed spinach with a squeeze of lemon juice. This breakfast is rich in Omega 3, which supports cognitive function, enhancing focus and concentration. It may also help aid muscle recovery and development by increasing protein synthesis.”

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Rachel Holmes, creator of Kick Start Fat Loss Diet (kickstartfatloss.net), says men looking to shed a few pounds should go for a frittata, cooked the night before. “Roast your choice of vegetables, add chunks of cooked meat and place in a deep frying pan to cook through. Add 5 or 6 beaten eggs – this will be enough for four portions. Once the mixture has cooked, put it in the oven and bake until browned. Leave to cool, then put in the fridge ready for the morning. It’s a high-protein, nutritious, fat-burning breakfast that will keep you going for hours.”

Omelette

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Saturday Kitchen’s omelette challenge may be fast, but it’s nothing on Naylor’s spinach, tomato and feta cheese feast. “Whisk 2-3 free-range eggs, and cook in a pan. Add a handful of raw spinach, one sliced fresh tomato and 40-80g of feta cheese. This is a high-protein breakfast with low carb content, perfect for after weights. Feta increases calcium to support bone health, and the spinach is a great source of vitamins and minerals.”

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For something a bit different, Ste Bacon, editor of online magazine foodandfitness.co.uk, has a recipe for a dairy- and gluten-free banana omelette. “Whisk two eggs in a bowl and add a mashed banana. Whisk until they are combined and add a pinch of cinnamon. Add 2 tsp coconut oil to a pan, pour in the mixture and cook for a couple of minutes, then place under a medium-heat grill. Serve with a cup of mixed berries for a protein and potassium-packed meal.”

(Images: Kopapa Restaurant, Thinkstock, Superstock)

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