What we eat, when we eat it and how much there is of it can affect all sorts of things, from weight loss/gain to brain power to alertness and more. Eating a good breakfast is vital to set us up for the day, but is it then better to eat brunch as well or is that just overkill? Are several small meals better than three large meals? Should we be snacking at all or just wait for the next meal, no matter how hungry we are? A lot of the answers to these questions depend on you as an individual – your natural hunger pattern, how much exercise you get, your lifestyle, whether you are trying to lose or gain weight at present etc. There are plus and minus points to brunch and to snacking in general, so experiment to see what works best for you.
The Breakfast Skipper
If you are a breakfast skipper, first of all shame on you! You really should try to eat something first thing in the morning, even if it’s only a small piece of toast or a muffin. However, this said, if you have skipped breakfast then brunch will definitely increase your productivity. Your brain needs energy just as much as your body if it is to function properly and we get energy from food. If brunch is the first thing you eat then make sure it’s good – whole grains for fibre, eggs, cheese or nuts for protein, fruit or veg for Vitamin C. Try a bacon and avocado sandwich on seeded granary bread, or a cheese and tomato toastie. Tomatoes also contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to protect against cell damage, especially in the brain.
The Big Breakfast
The best way to start the day is with a big breakfast. It gets the body going in the morning and makes you feel energised and alert. Morning is also the time when the body can best deal with complex carbohydrates such as glucose, so is the best time to fill up. If you do eat a big breakfast at seven every morning, chances are you won’t be too hungry until lunch. If you follow a big breakfast with a big brunch it could make you sleepy and slow you down, especially if you overload on carbs. Perhaps a handful of raisins or small piece of fruit at eleven will keep your brain and body ticking over until lunch.
If you are the kind of person who snacks all day rather than eating three square meals then brunch is really just a continuation of this habit. It has not yet been proven one way or the other which way of eating is best, so until medical experts say otherwise then carry on with whatever suits you. Do make sure you don’t just sit in office chairs all day though – use your lunch break to do something else productive like go for a walk or to the gym.
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