Greg’s Daily Diet – Part I – Breakfast

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I recently received the following comment to one of my articles on Grains:

“I like your website and services that you offer Greg but your dietary advice seems idealistic. I like the idea of trying some of your suggestions out but I just don’t see how I could ever do it, I’ve hardly be able to eat anything! Shops, cafes, restaurants, dinner with friends it would be so hard to eat as you suggest that it would cause me more stress than the benefits involved.

I do eat healthily but I want to improve my pot belly that keeps me with a 4 pack instead of an 8 pack Cutting out starchy foods does seem to be the way forward but I just don’t think I could live as you suggest.

Ideally I would get a diet plan for the week showing how it could work but it seems that actually 10% of food in supermarkets can only be eaten and that must be difficult to stay motivated.”

It is often thought that I am some kind of health freak and that many of my principles are not practical in real life. Do you think this?

The truth is I base all my principles on Science and Nature. So it doesn’t matter how many times you want to believe that grains are good for you or low fat foods are good for you or that protein shakes are good for you, both nature and science shows us otherwise.

Mother Natures Food

Image by Rocketeer

So you really have a choice…

# 1 – Trust in Mother Nature and all the beauty that she has created in the world, and Look, Feel and Live Healthily

Or…

# 2 – Try and make up your own rules, listen to the media and all the million dollar food marketing companies and spend a lifetime battling with health problems!

OK, with all that said I’d like to outline how I eat and drink during the day.

It is my hope that you can then see how living inline with your body and with nature is totally possible and not idealistic.

I’ll run through an average day, include all my meals and give you the reasoning behind why I eat, what I eat and why I avoid certain foods.

Right, lets get started…

Wake Up

During a full nights rest your metabolism slows and  your body rejuvenates. If you get to bed early enough (before 10:30) then you will have had full physical repair as well as full mental repair.

Once you wake up you will be dehydrated due to a lack of fluids during your 7-9 hour fast. Drink a glass of water when you first wake up to replace lost fluids.

Next I drink tea, generally decaffeinated and without milk. There are 1000′s of choices of tea but here are a few options:

  • Green Tea (different teas have different amounts of caffeine)Lots of teas to drink
  • Chai Tea (black tea, slightly caffeinated)
  • Yerba Mate (caffeinated)
  • Chicory (not a tea more of a coffee substitute, caffeine free)
  • Mint (caffeine free)
  • Lemon and Ginger (caffeine free)

What’s the problem with Caffeine?

Caffeine induces levels of stress within the body. It raises hormones and blood sugar levels to give us energy. High blood sugar levels causes hormonal issues and fat storage.

I don’t recommend that everyone needs to give up caffeine, there are far more important things to tackle with regards to your health.

However, many people are far too stressed out to handle the extra anxiety that caffeine can cause both mentally and hormonally. If you suffer from IBS , Anxiety Attacks or Energy Slumps then I recommend you eliminate caffeine.

I rarely drink caffeine but if I do then I limit it to one cup and drink it before 4pm. Caffeine has a life of many hours so you don’t want to drink caffeine in the evening because it will disrupt your hormones during sleep.

Finally, drinking caffeine after meals is not recommended. Drinking caffeine stimulates your Sympathetic Nervous System which in turn shuts down your Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS). Your PNS is responsible for digestion so stimulating your body after a meal will cause problems with digestion.

Breakfast

First thing in the morning your body is empty and ready to take on food.

A good meal will provide you with energy for the day.

Just like taking a car on a long journey you need to fuel up first

What you eat now will have a profound effect on the rest of your day.

For many people their breakfast will consist of Tea or Coffee, Fruit, Toast, and or Cereal with Milk.

Lets take a look at these and see why they are not the best start to the day.

Firstly, if you start your day with toast you immediately elevate your blood sugar levels. As I discuss in my article on Grains, toast is made from grains and most grains, whether brown or white contain mostly starch. Starch is sugar.

Then lets add some jam or marmalade which is more sugar.

Next you have some fruit or a fruit juice because you think its healthy. That’s more sugar, it’s called Fructose!

Perhaps you go for a nice bowl of wholegrain cereal, whether it has added sugar or not the grains are mainly starch or sugar.

Finally add some milk to your cereal, which has its own natural sugar and that’s Lactose!

So the upshot of all these common breakfast options is that you consume a lot of sugar for breakfast.

SugarWhy Sugar Causes Weight Gain

Let me outline in very simple terms why sugar is such a problem.

  1. When you eat sugar you elevate the concentration of sugar in your blood stream.
  2. Sugar in the blood stream is damaging to the organs, arteries and blood vessels.
  3. Blood sugar stimulates the release of the hormone insulin
  4. Insulin forces the sugar into the muscle cells for energy usage
  5. Too much blood sugar means the muscle cells are full and so the sugar gets stored in your fat cells
Small amounts of sugar in the body you can deal with very effectively but too much sugar causes problems!

When you are low on energy your body should use your stored energy by releasing the hormone Glucagon.

But, and here’s the big but…

Your body cannot activate your Glucagon Hormone and so release your stored energy if your Insulin Hormone is busy working managing your blood sugar.

In other words your cannot store energy and release it at the same time. Makes sense, right?

So if you want to lose fat and use up your stored energy then you need to limit your sugar intake.

Here’s what I recommend for breakfast

Remember sugar is the enemy here so we need all natural foods that will keep our blood sugar levels balanced.

Here are some of my favourite choices:

  • Omelettes  (with lots of veggies)
  • Boiled Egg
  • Smoked Salmon with veggies
  • Bacon and Eggs (buy good quality organic)
  • Sausages and Eggs (buy good quality organic gluten free)
  • Leftovers from the night before
  • Oats made with Water and Butter (oats don’t agree with me but see how you go)

Here are a few examples of my recent breakfasts:

scrambled eggs and bacon

(Scrambled Eggs, Bacon and Buttered Leeks. Cooking time 10 minutes.)

 

fried eggs, mushrooms, watercress

(Eggs, Mushrooms, Watercress, Tomato, Cucumber. Cooking time 2 minutes)

 

sausages and eggs

(Gluten Free Sausages, Leeks, Eggs. Cooking time 15 minutes)

 

scrambled eggs and courgette

(Scrambled Eggs, Courgette (Zucchini), Avocado, Wild Rocket. Cooking time: 3 mins)

 

You will notice that I try and add as many vegetables into my breakfast meals as I can. This has taken time to develop but now both myself and Lucy love our morning veggies!

 

Some days I will complete my breakfast with a Vegetable Juice to add even more goodness into my mornings :-)

 

Common Breakfast Objections

# 1 – Aren’t Eggs High in Cholesterol

Eggs are one of natures prized complete foods. A perfect balance of Fats, Protein and Carbohydrates.

Buy organic free range eggs and avoid the ones with added omega 3 that taste fishy.

There is no scientific evidence that links eating natural cholesterol with heart disease. For overwhelming scientific evidence on the myths of Cholesterol read these books:

 # 2 – I Don’t have time to Eat Breakfast

We all have the same amount of time, you, me, the Queen, the President. The difference between all of us is how we manage OUR time.

Wake up 15 minutes earlier. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier. Plan your breakfast the night before.

All the breakfast options that I show above take less than 15 minutes to prepare. Make breakfast an important habit each morning just like brushing your teeth or taking a shower.

# 3 – I Can’t Face Eating Food Early in the Morning

This is a common objection but it is a habit that can be changed with time.

If you are used to just drinking coffee and then flying out the door then you need to slowly start a new habit.

Begin with something light. Perhaps an organic natural yoghurt, apple, or even a home made vegetable juice.

With time start to add more food into the mix. Perhaps some eggs a few times per week. Or a nice cooked breakfast on a weekend.

The point is you need to start slow and build up. Start building a breakfast habit. You will be surprised at how quickly your habit will grow and you’ll be longing for more food at breakfast time.

# 4 – What’s Wrong with Drinking Milk?

Modern day milk is heavily processed until it’s not even a recognisable natural food. Here are a few of the reasons to avoid milk:

  • Pasteurisation destroys vital nutrients including vitamins
  • Homogenisation damages the molecule structure
  • Many people are allergic to dairy without knowing it
  • Many people are lactose intolerant meaning they lack the digestive enzyme Lactase that digests the milk sugar
  • Leafy greens have more calcium than milk

Here’s the kicker that most people don’t realise:

Low Fat Milk is actually more fattening than full fat milk because the fat actually slows down the release of the milks sugar (lactose) into your body

A common compromise that many people make with milk is to opt for Soya Milk, Almond Milk or Rice Milk.

  1. Soya milk has many serious objections, one of which is due to possible Soya Bean Genetic Modification
  2. Rice milk is made from Rice and is therefore high in starch and therefore sugar
  3. Almond milk may be an option but all artificial milks tend to have additives one of which is often sugar in some shape or form

My advice would be to avoid all milks and milk substitutes. If you are not eating cereal then the only other use for milk is in tea or coffee and these can easily be drunk without milk.

Breakfast Conclusions

We all know that breakfast is an important meal that should not be missed.

Eating meals the way I eat today has taken time. I’m constantly adding and honing my daily meals, always looking for ways to add in more nutrients or foods to better improve my health.

Try to start a breakfast habit if you don’t already have one. Start slow and build up!

Finally, remember we are all different. Some people can tolerate oats others can’t. Some people are allergic to eggs others aren’t. The best way to discover your optimal diet is to test and see how you feel: 1,2,3 hours after your meal, and then adjust accordingly.

Next check out Lunch…

 

Got Questions? Leave Me a Comment Below….

 

 

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Comments

  1. Simon says

    Thanks Greg that was a very informative article.
    Seeing as it’s my comment at the top I thought I might as well leave one at the bottom as well ;-)
    It will be a big change which will take time however I am keen to give it a go, even if it’s just one meal at a time. I have the odd omelette but it’s mostly granola with fruit and yogurt with a normal cup of tea for my breakfast.
    After reading this article I’m going to slowly start integrating your choices and hopefully eventually replace my old breakfast choices. I know you’ve recommended trying your evolution diet for 30 days however I am thinking gradual integration could work better for me at this stage.
    Looking forward to your lunch one!

    • says

      Cheers Simon, I’m pleased you got a chance to read the article and more importantly are going to take action.

      Start to change eating habits slowly and you will get there :-)

  2. Dawn says

    Hi
    I do agree with this and have been following the whole30 plan and cutting out everything you speak about. This morning I had sirloin steak, poached egg, kale, cashews and mixed veggies! I am now obsessed with all my meals because they are great!
    I used to eat muesli all the time but I know it was because of the sugar. I have been eating like this for 11 days now and find that when I think of many foods I have cut out I don’t know if I could even stomach them! I am blogging my efforts here http://dawnieswhole30.tumblr.com/ I hope to encourage others to look at changing!
    Thanks for all your useful info!

  3. Darren says

    Hi Gregg…great article. I can only say it absolutely works for me. I now have either scrambled eggs with something, or make a ‘gallette’ out of egg, oatbran and fat free soft cheese.

    I agree with all you say about the body chemistry…one thing that I’d add is that the bonus for me is that these breakfasts leave me full from 06.00 to well past mid-day if necessary. This means I don’t snack!

  4. Idi says

    This is a great article! I’m grateful to Simon for posing the question and for such a well structured and informative response. I read so much about how important it is to have a good breakfast but it means so much more with all the meal ideas, pictures and practical tips! I’m also looking forward to your lunch post…. and dinner and snacks too!

    I have lived in West Africa for a few years now and although (thankfully) I am largely removed from so much exposure to most processed food, it can still be quite difficult to put together a well-balanced meal. Breakfast is especially hard for me because I have NEVER liked eggs. I think this weekend I will have to give them a second try though. Your scrambled eggs with zucchini and avocado actually looks pretty good…!

    • says

      Cheers Idi, let me know how your 2nd attempt at eating eggs goes. My wife goes through phases of liking eggs and then not eating them at all. Listen to your body Idi, it’s your best teacher!!

  5. Matt says

    Great article. All things that deep down I knew but don’t want to admit. It’s a hard transition but I will try. Also, great website. I really enjoy your kb workouts. Have any joint mobility/ flexibility videos? I find my hamstring and low back flexibility to be awful.

    Thanks,

    Matt (your Canadian fan)

    • says

      Cheers Matt, I’m passionate about Joint Mobility as you probably know but have not published many videos on the topic yet. Let me see what I can find buddy!!!

  6. Barb says

    Great article Greg! What I love the most about it is the rationale that you give for why you eat something or why you don’t eat something. Great to include the research articles about eggs/cholesterol too!
    I do drink a lot of coffee and it is not that difficult for me to switch to tea as you suggest here. I know I don’t drink nearly enough water and I am sure when I do this one thing every morning it will set the tone for the day. I have a plan to keep some water at my bedside so it is there when I wake up! Thank you so much for posting this article. Probably the most important thing I will read today.

    • says

      What great words Barb. I like your water by the bed idea. You are right, a good glass of water first thing will certainly set you up for the day. Nothing like a bit of hydration to keep you shining and energised. Many mistake hunger for thirst too!!

  7. Emma says

    Great article Greg! Very clear and informative. I’m a complete convert to your breakfast and can’t imagine starting the day without my hot water followed by eggs and veggies. It took a while to get used to but I’ve been doing this for over a year now and it had a huge effect on reducing my morning hunger pangs. Still can’t (won’t?!) give up my mid morning americano but hey ho – am not perfect!

    • says

      Congratulations Emma, great to hear you are feeling the benefits of a proper breakfast. If your nutrition is clean and sensible then an Americano is the least of your worries ;-)

  8. Andrea says

    Thank you for this article and the beautiful pictures. I can figure out some new recipes just from viewing. What about sweet potatoes? I also like the idea of adjusting the morning and evening time to ensure that breakfast is enjoyed, and not just rushed out the door.

    • says

      Cheers Andrea….Sweet Potatoes, absolutely! I’ve even started eating a bit of grated Raw Sweet potato in salads every now and again…that’s something else you can try :-)

    • says

      I’m not a big fan of protein shakes Greg, they take more nutrients out of the body than they put in. Did you know that whey was considered a waste dairy product, until they found a way to make money from it? The supplement companies are cleaning up with this processed nonsense.

      If you feel that you need more protein in your diet then eat a good quality organic meat for breakfast, your body will love you all the more for it.

  9. Nicola says

    You can easily make your own natural almond milk – just soak some almonds overnight in water, drain and rinse, then blend with fresh water in a 1:3 ratio (ie. 1 cup almonds to 3 cups water). Blend really really well, then pour through a sieve. I make cashew milk the same way and use this as a creamer in my occasional coffee and to cook my oats. No need to buy processed filth :)

  10. Justin says

    Great post Greg. There was alot of really good information in there. Especially the last part about finding out what works best for you as an individual, that is a very important point as I’ve found out by experience.

    I look forward to your posts on lunch and dinner.

  11. Nikki says

    Thanks Greg, great article. Especially the heads up re Rice Milk. Gone for me now!

    One question. If you are staying away from home in a hotel as I am for work right now, is the very probably low quality breakfast meat better than nothing? I eat organic at home but harder to do when I’m away.

    Cheers

    • says

      Good question Nikki, you are usually safe with eggs, so boiled eggs will work well. As for meats, I would steer clear of sausages, you could eat the bacon and remove the fat as the toxins of meats gets stored in the fat. If it was organic you could eat the fat. If your hotel is fancy and they serve smoked haddock for breakfast then dive in :-)

  12. Alexa says

    Hi Greg!

    Thanks for these insights into your diet!
    I will give it a go and skip all the protein shakes post workout etc. I hope you will also post your suggestions what to eat best pre & post workout whenf ollowing the all natural approach.

    But there is one question that crossed my mind:
    After breakfast….do you suggest to snack before lunch (i.e. 5-6 smaller meals a day)?
    Or simply eat 3x a day? In order not to influence insuline levels with snacking inbetween the meals?

    Looking forward to your response and of course to your lunch-post next week!

    Cheers from Bavaria
    Alexa

    • says

      Hi Alexa, you certainly can snack mid morning if you need too but the objective is to listen to your body and see what foods keep you fuller, energised and happy for longer. Everyone is different so experiment. You are right though…keeping those blood sugar levels balanced is vital so the better you eat the less peaks and troughs you will experience and your mood and energy will be more consistent. It’s always advisable to have healthy snacks at hand just in case you need them :-) More on this in the next few articles.

  13. Mike says

    Hi Greg
    Great ideas for breakfast, will definitely try them. One question, what way do you cook you breakfasts?
    Cheers Mike

    • says

      Cheers Mike, not sure what you mean by “what way”? I presume you mean fry, boil, raw etc? Try mixing your cooking methods up. I like a bit of raw veg in the morning. Just avoid that microwave!!!!

  14. Jenny Artichoke says

    I love eggs for breakfast and have always seen them as a weekend “treat” but I am going to start having them during the week too. In Budapest recently I was having lots of salad for breakfast and I loved that too. Why just on holiday?!

    What are your thoughts on tuna for brekkie?

    Jx

  15. Gary says

    Hi Greg,

    I take on board all what you say but I have a few questions:

    1. How much CHO is too much for breakfast. It appears from your article that ANY CHO is too much – which I presume is why you seem to eliminate it almost completely.

    2. Your breakfasts concentrate on what seems to be high protein – which is a puzzle to me. When you wake your body requires energy from an easily assimilated source which is why CHO has always been recommended by nutritional experts in the past. HIgh protein puts a load on your liver/kidneys to assimilate and its also an expensive energy source.

    3. You make the biochemistry of the body seem so simplistic. Complex CHO and high fibre foods are basically ‘sugar’ and as such will cause an insulin response and whilst that doing its job glucagon cant work?? The body is a complex pot of different hormones and systems working all at the same time – if its working correctly there should not be anything to worry about. The body will use the nutrients from food as it needs. I think your view is too simplistic to be homest and as such conclusions drawn are the same – simplistic.

    4. I always have a breakfast and am in the vast majority of the population and have a high fibre cereal with milk. I never feel hungry and that gives me enough energy throughout the morning. I do eat protein for lunch in the form of eggs, fish, meat, nuts but again I include the ‘staple’ carbohydrates.

    5. I try to eat a sensible diet which is balanced in all the main nutrients, not too much of any one thing. I work out 4 times per week with kettlebells using Tabata and HIIT but I also cycle as much as I can. I’m 51 and feel fitter now than ever before in my life.

    I’d be interested to have your three day diet diary with the full breakdown of how much protein, fat, CHO etc you actually take in on a daily basis. Would you share that information on here?

    I guess that this comment wont be included on your site – I’ve replied to other trainers blogs along similar lines but never had a reply.

    All the best,,,, Gary

    • says

      Thanks for your questions Gary. I’ll be addressing all of these points in the next 2 installments of this article series but for now here are the quick answers:

      1. As I mention in this and all my nutrition articles everyone is different so there is no one diet fits all approach. Some have higher carbohydrate requirements than others based on lifestyle. I’m certainly not saying eliminate Carbs, vegetables have carbs, just be careful with processed carbs like cereals.

      2. High protein can be a problem if you have a damaged liver or kidney’s but for healthy organs it’s fine. Anyways I’m not suggesting high protein, I even eat vegetarian meals sometimes. As I’ve said, everyone is different, you must find your own balance. Most people don’t use fat for energy because they have too much junk carbohydrate in their diet.

      3. Yes you are right I am trying to keep these articles simplistic so as not to overwhelm people. I’d be the first to agree with the sophistication of the body and hormonal system which is why I don’t advocate supplementation. If people want to dig deeper then at least they have a foundation or basic understanding.

      4. If you are happy on your diet then great, but processed carbs do give you an instant hit of energy hence why people enjoy them. But just because the rest of the population eat cereal and milk doesn’t means it’s healthy.

      Hope this answers your questions and can help improve your existing diet.

      • Gary says

        Thanks for the answers Greg… I understand what you are saying. Carbohydrate foods often come with the wrong accompaniment – high fat/sugary sauces so – bread comes with butter, jam, peanut butter , rice with curry, pasta with creamy sauces, potatoes with butter etc etc, etc.

        We do need to control this with the right balance

        I look forward to your articles about lunch and supper..

        • says

          I’m certainly not adverse to butter and peanut butter, in fact fats like these would help to slow down the spikes of blood sugar levels in the body. So toast with butter would actually be better at regulating your blood sugar levels then toast without butter. What I’m really against is breakfasts loaded with sugar and grains that don’t offer any nutritional value at a time when you need it most.

  16. Chris nellies says

    Thanks Greg I usually have porridge with milk , but I will get rid of the milk ,and I am defiantly adding more eggs. Are they ok fried or does that make them hard to digest?

    • says

      Sounds like a plan Chris, try it out and see how you go. You can fry the eggs in a little butter. You don’t have to have eggs every day, but they are a good start to the day :-)

  17. Simon says

    Hi Gregg
    Just a quick point on tea. I don’t drink coffee so I’m lucky enough not to have to wean myself off that one. I know tea has caffeine in it and looked in the supermarket for the variants you suggested in this article.
    I see loads of the usual brands offer caffeine free alternatives but you’ve not specifically mentioned this. Is there any reason to this or is a caffeine free Tetley’s tea bag just as good as the offer alternatives you mentioned?
    By the way I had an omelette with buttered leeks and spinach leaves this morning. Tasty and kept me full for a more than a couple of hours. Off-set by the the sweet chilli chicken sandwich from Greggs bakers but I’m doing this one meal at a time! Looking forward to the lunch article.
    Cheers ;-)

  18. Stirling Kohler says

    Hey Greg. How u going mate? (yeah I’m an Aussie!)
    I’ve just read your article re Breakfast and really love your simple but detailed language!! I’m also a PT with a nice business/lifestyle and clients that I adore!! Every breakfast objection you’ve listed are the same ones thrown at me daily. I feel your pain Greg!! Eg “but I eat a healthy brekkie…..muesli, oats, whole grain toast, organic jam, fruit, fruit juice!!” = sugar, sugar, sugar, sugar with a bit of added sugar!!! Some are natural sugars but still sugars that induce insulin resistance!
    I don’t know Greg, he doesn’t pay, we’ve never met but I implore you to follow his advice!!! Keep up the great work buddy and fight the healthy fight….it’s worth it!!
    Stirling

  19. cornelius says

    Great article you have written here. I am following your ideas and they are proving very motivational and beneficial. I will be getting my six pack soon!

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