My clients often ask me about breakfast. What should they have? What can they make that is healthy and quick? Do they need to eat breakfast if they are not hungry in the morning?

Many of us associate breakfast with something sweet like fruit, muffins, pancakes, cereal, or sweetened yogurt. The decision to eat breakfast is one that each of us needs to make based on how we feel. For those of us who do eat breakfast, I recommend starting the day out with a serving of protein, fat, and fiber and adding on from there.

When we eat sugar in the morning, or something that our body turns to sugar quickly, like toast with jam, juice, scones, nonfat milk or yogurt, our blood sugar surges. We usually feel good and then our blood sugar sharply declines and we can feel tired, hungry, impatient or in a down mood, or find it difficult to concentrate. We might reach for a second cup of coffee or a bar to get us through until lunch. Late in the afternoon, we might find that we are suffering from the same feelings because our blood sugar has been on a rollercoaster all day. If we have turned to caffeine to fuel us through the day, we can have trouble falling asleep.

When we eat a more balanced breakfast with some protein, fat, and fiber our blood sugar rises slightly and over a period of hours slowly decreases. Around lunchtime we find ourselves hungry and then depending on our lunch can often make it until dinner until we feel hungry again. This is important to prevent diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and to maintain our energy, mood, brain function, hormone balance, and digestion health among other things.

One way to tell if your breakfast is setting you up for feeling energetic throughout the day is to write down what you are eating and how you feel throughout the day. Play with your breakfast and see if adding some protein, fat, or fiber changes your energy level, mood, cravings, or brain function later in the day.

Some good examples of more well-balanced breakfast are vegetable omelets or frittatas, full fat unsweetened yogurt with sliced almonds and fruit, turkey hash with kale and sweet potatoes, smoked salmon roll-ups with avocado and arugula, chia pudding with nuts/seeds, and fruit, or a smoothie with protein powder, frozen berries, zucchini, and flax seeds.