Does your breakfast keep you feeling full until lunch time? Or are you hungry again by the time you’ve washed your breakfast bowl? When people ask me what they should be looking for in a healthy breakfast, one of the first things that I recommend is to choose a breakfast which has a low glycemic index and will keep you feeling full for the next 4-5 hours.
The glycemic index, or GI as it is often referred to, is a ranking system from 0 to 100 regarding how quickly or slowly the carbohydrates are digested. Foods with a GI ranking of less than 55 are described as ‘low GI’ and provide a slow release of energy, keeping you feeling fuller for longer. Alternatively foods with a GI above 70 are referred to as ‘high GI’ meaning that they break down quickly are a better suited to people with diabetes having a hypoglycemic attack or athletes trying to refuel after training.
A low GI breakfast will help to sustain you throughout the morning, slowly releasing energy for you to go about your daily tasks. Unfortunately, there are many high GI breakfast options which are currently being promoted….things like pancakes, waffles, rice puffs and frosted cereals should really be kept for special occasion breakfasts. Conversely, there are many nutritious low GI breakfast options available.
Five of my favourite low GI breakfasts include:
Oats – oats can be eaten as muesli or as porridge and have a glycemic index of 42 – 50 depending upon how long they are cooked for (the cooking breaks down the starch making them quicker to digest). Another advantage of oats is that they contain a substance called beta-glucan which is great for lowering cholesterol. However, stay away from ‘instant porridge’ sachets which have a much higher GI!
belVita Breakfast biscuits – this product is relatively new on the market, but has wowed nutritionists with its low glycemic index (ranging from 45 to 54 depending upon the variety). After undergoing years in the making, these biscuits undergo a special baking process which ensures that they digest more slowly than other biscuits, keeping consumers fuller for longer. In fact, when eaten with a glass of low-fat milk, belVita Breakfast biscuits have been scientifically shown to provide a gradual release of energy over four hours! These biscuits are also a great source of wholegrains.
Yoghurt – Depending upon the brand, yoghurts have GI’s as low as 17! This is because of the protein in yoghurt which slows down the break down of the carbohydrates. Yoghurt can be eaten on cereal, on fresh fruit or on its own. Yoghurt also contains good bacteria known as a probiotic which helps to keep your gut healthy.
Sourdough toast – Sourdough breads have a much lower GI than most other white breads (54 versus 75). Sourdough bread is much more dense, causing it to be more slowly digested. This is a great choice for children (and adults) who refuse to eat breads with ‘bits’ (grains)! And, is guaranteed to keep you feeling full until lunch time.
Baked beans™ on toast – This old favourite seems to have lost its popularity of late, but is such a nutritious and filling breakfast! On toast or cooked in a jaffle iron, Baked Beans are rich in fibre, are a good source of protein and of course have a low GI (40) so you won’t be tempted by the mid morning treats being passed around the office.
About the Author
Melanie McGrice is an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian with a Masters degree in Dietetics. Melanie has a special interest in weight management and healthy eating for children and adolescents. She has co-authored seven papers published in peer-reviewed scientific journals to date. She is passionate about educating Australians about how to eat well, appreciate good food and maintain a healthy lifestyle so that they can feel great and get the most out of life.
Melanie is the director of Health Kick Nutrition & Dietetics and the brand ambassador of belVita Breakfast biscuits and is regularly interviewed for television news, current affairs and lifestyle programs discussing topical nutrition issues.
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