One of the most deeply ingrained snippets of conventional wisdom states that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I don’t know who started the rumour but it’s pretty clear that it has grown strong thanks to marketing. Backed up by bad science, as that reported in this recent article in the Precision Nutrition website. In conclusion, some scientists do a pretty bad job at interpreting results, then the media and food companies use the abstracts to their convenience and people end up eating something that may not serve their health and performance goals.
Different things work for different people, or for the same person in different circumstances, and it’s up to each individual to experiment. Having said that, for people who do eat breakfast it’s a really bad idea to start the day with a whack of carbs. Blood sugar control gets impaired, which is not only bad for people who are insulin resistant, diabetic or trying to lose weight, but also for anyone who wants to be sharp and awake during the day. Protein and fat, on the other hand, help with satiety. Fat also provides a great and steady source of energy.
I don’t remember every type of breakfast I’ve ever had (fortunately it was breast milk in my early days), but I’m sure I’ve covered a lot of terrain. I haven’t been as hardcore as my dad, who had the exact same breakfast (plain bread rolls and a big cup of tea with 3 teaspoons of sugar) for 30+ years or my middle sister who woke up to cigarettes and a glass of Inca Kola for a few years.
I’ve done food logs in the past and I agree that for most people they’re not only unnecessary but also detrimental because it can lead to stress and anxiety. However, compiling this “evolution of my morning eats” has helped me understand how tweaking my breakfast may have affected my body composition, health and energy levels.
Early years: 1-2 sandwiches with butter + ham, butter + cheese, butter + jam, omelette, scrambled eggs with sliced frankfurters, or mashed avocado with sugar. We used pan francés, the small white bread rolls that most Peruvians eat. Tea (with sugar and no milk – not many people drink tea with milk back home), Frescavena (an oat drink made by Quaker that came in strawberry, vanilla and chocolate flavours) with milk or hot chocolate.
Before puberty: cereal with milk. In the beginning it was plain corn flakes (with lots of sugar and evaporated milk), then Zucaritas (a.k.a. Frosted Flakes) or Cocoa Puffs, sometimes with milk, sometimes with (sweetened & flavoured) yoghurt. I had one of these Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cereal bowls, refilled multiple times per sitting.
Teenage years: whatever the diet du jour allowed. Sometimes half a grapefruit. Sometimes grilled chicken breast. When I was not on a trademark diet I was still dieting, and breakfast was typically half a bread roll with a thin smear of light Philadephia cheese and a cup of tea or coffee.
Uni years and young adulthood: to be honest I can’t remember what I had for breakfast during uni, I was probably too drunk all the time. I suspect I was back to sandwiches and/or cereal + dairy.
Taekwondo years: wholemeal bread rolls, low-fat cheese, low-fat ham/sliced turkey, low-fat yoghurt and/or fruit. Hot drinks with sweetener.
First two years in Australia: low-fat Greek/natural yoghurt or oatmeal with blueberries and banana, sometimes flaxmeal and/or wheat germ, sometimes peanut butter. No sweetener in hot drinks.
First months of paleo: soft-boiled eggs with spinach and mustard.
Next two years: meat-based breakfasts (ground meat with herbs/spices and veggies, eaten with sauerkraut or butter or both), crustless quiches (baked eggs with bacon/ham/morcilla and veggies), canned wild salmon/tuna/sardines with avocado (sometimes wrapped in nori), bacon and eggs with avocado and sauerkraut/spinach (usually on weekends), leftovers, nothing if not hungry.
Crustless smoked trout quiche
Breakfast nori roll
Bacon, eggs, sauerkraut & avocado
Last 6 months: Bulletproof coffee most days, sometimes a cup of bone broth, nothing if not hungry, cafe breakfast once a week, a meat-based breakfast or sardines with kimchi or leftovers occasionally (if I work out in the morning).
Sardines, kimchi & hot sauce