As a new day begins and we look forward to a great day, what we need most for a great start is, charging the body with lots of energy. Breakfast is therefore the most important meal of the day as it fuels us up for the day’s work. We take meal in the form of breakfast after a gap of 8-12 hours after last night’s dinner. The blood glucose (commonly known as blood sugar) level falls during this gap. A balanced breakfast helps raise the glucose level to the amount required by the body to perform the daily tasks. Glucose is essential for the brain and it is also the main energy source. It energizes the muscles for the physical activity to be undertaken during the day. Breakfast fuels the brain and the body and improves our level of concentration and energy, thus helping in better performance at work, school or play.
The ancient/traditional meal routine in India was as ideal one. People had breakfast like the lunch of today, and afternoon meal was light like modern breakfast. The logic behind this was to fuel the body enough to toil in the farms for the whole day. The body’s digestion is better in the morning as it is taken after a long gap. In the afternoon when the body is tired after work, only some snacks were taken as some work is still left to be done. Heavy lunch would lead to lethargy. The farming population and some people in West Bengal still follow this routine. However times have changed and so has our lifestyle. As now we have to rush to office and schools early, we prefer a light breakfast. It is therefore more important for the breakfast menu to be a balanced well thought out one.
The most important function of breakfast is to provide energy to the body for the day’s work. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy to the body. This is the reason we traditionally have food like bread, chapatti or idli for breakfast, because they are full of carbohydrates. But along with the body the brain too has to be activated. Here comes the importance of protein in breakfast which we get from food like milk, egg, meat, sprouts, nuts etc. A combination of carbohydrates and protein foods is more satiating and keeps hunger away for a longer period of the day.
Importance of proteins
- Reconstruction and repair of body cells and tissues.
- For creating anti bodies needed by the body to fight diseases.
- For growth in children.
- For formation of the essential enzymes and hormones that aid metabolism, digestion etc.
Types of protein
There are two types of protein- animal protein and vegetable protein. The protein sourced from non-vegetarian food like meat, poultry, dairy products etc. are animal protein. Whereas protein we get from plants like legumes, pulses etc. are vegetable proteins.
Then there are complete protein and incomplete proteins. Complete proteins are those which contain all the essential amino acids. Food from animal sources provides complete protein. Incomplete proteins are those which lack some essential amino acids. Vegetarians can get all essential amino acids by combining various plant foods like taking legumes with grains, nuts and vegetables.
List of Protein rich Breakfast food items
- Egg- Egg is rich source of protein which can be had in a variety of interesting ways. You can have omlette, boiled egg, half boiled egg, scrambled egg, eaten by themselves or as filling for burger, sandwich, paratha or even dosa.
- Dairy products- Milk is a wonder drink with tremendous health benefits. It is not only filling but tasty too in its varied products. The benefits of milk can be had as plain or sweetened milk/milk shakes or in the form of yoghurt, cheese, smoothies, buttermilk, kheer/payasam, raita, fruit salad, desserts etc.
- Nuts- Nuts can be eaten as raw, whole nuts or as nut butter. Nut butters are great on whole wheat bread.
- Fruits- Many fruits contain significant amount of protein along with simple and complex carbohydrates. A few pieces of fruit mixed with condensed milk or yoghurt makes a balanced breakfast high in protein.
- Sprouts, beans and legumes are rich sources of protein.
- Soy products- Soya milk and breakfast cereals made from soya are rich plant sources of protein.
- Chicken, meat, sausage, bacon
Protein & Carbohydrate Combination ideas for breakfast
- Egg sandwich with cheese, sausage and bacon.
- Bread omlette.
- Stuffed paratha made with vegetables like cauliflower, pannier, peas, radish etc.
- Roti rolls filled with vegetables, sprouts, scrambled egg, paneer or chicken.
- Sandwiches filled with egg, vegetables, shredded chicken, vegetable tikkis, paneer, mayopneese.
- Idli/ dosa with vegetable sambar.
- Upma prepared with broken wheat and vegetables.
- Oats with milk and fruits.
- Puri/roti with vegetables.
- Fruit salad or mixed veg salad made with corn, broccoli, sprouts, beans and other vegetables.
- Milk and banana.
- Noodles or poha prepared with lots of vegetables, sprouts and nuts.
- A glass of milk daily with any combination of breakfast food will surely give you a full energetic start to every new day.
A nutritious, balanced breakfast means a very good morning and great, happy day!