Our Dietitians Share: How Full Should You Be After Breakfast?

Hey team, Lisa here! For tonight’s blog, I sat down with my fellow Dietitian’s here at 12WBT, to discuss all things breakfast and how ‘full’ we should be feeling after the first meal of the day. This is a really common dietary question, so let’s get started. Amanda will kick us off.

AMANDA: Do you girls eat breakfast? If so, what’s typically on the plate?

LISA: OK girls, don’t screw up your faces! I love soggy Weetbix! My daily go-to is always 2 gluten-free Weetbix soaked in a little hot water to soften them with 2 TBS full-fat Greek yoghurt, cinnamon and berries… and then milk over that! I am not a fan of crunchy Weetbix! I have the full-fat yoghurt because I love it and it keeps me fuller for longer.

AMANDA: Mmmm, I totally understand a nice warm breakfast. I am very much a creature of habit, so for the moment I am an egg girl….scrambled eggs with spring onion chopped up, with half a sliced avocado and half a tomato on the side. OR I cook it all in an omelette with some extra ingredients like corn, red capsicum, a pinch of cheese and either ham or cooked chicken. This is a great 12BWT recipe. It feels like such an indulgent way to start the day and I really feel the self-love when I make this one.

ERICA: Yep, I’m on the ‘warm breakfast’ bandwagon too. It’s porridge for me with chopped dates, chia seeds, pepitas, a bit of honey and a dollop of peanut butter – yum! If I happen to be prepared I will make overnight oats the night before and enjoy that in the morning. The Chocolate Brownie Overnight Oats are a fave. Or I make up my own with whatever I have in the cupboard. To be honest, this usually involves peanut butter… Can you tell that I love peanut butter!? 

AMANDA: On the opposite hand, if I am short on time I have a ‘yoghurt bowl’. I am very visual, so I’ll usually put two to three heaped tablespoons of vanilla yopro yoghurt with lines of berries, coconut, cacao nibs, walnuts (or anything else I can find!). It’s pretty as a picture and tastes divine.

LISA: Yoghurt is the best, isn’t it! A quick savoury option for me would be eggs with vege. Either an omelette packed with vege and some feta or a couple of poachies with avocado on the Low Carb Vege Bread (link). I absolutely LOVE that bread and I make it regularly with any sad vege left over in the fridge! 

ERICA: What if you have even less time? Do you have a ‘grab and go’ option ?

LISA: Yep, if I am racing to my clinic to see clients first thing in the morning, I will grab a banana, yoghurt and nuts. If I have an extra 5 minutes, I’ll turn these ingredients into a smoothie with milk and cinnamon. This 12WBT recipe is a simple starting point. It’s a portable breaky I can sip. 

AMANDA: I am similar to Lisa here. If I have to run out the door, I’m grabbing a piece of fruit and a handful of nuts (walnuts or almonds).

ERICA: Bananas for the win! That’s my default if I’m in a rush as well. I’d probably grab some almonds and dates too. Back in my uni days, I would grab a can of baked beans and a banana to eat on the go. This kept me full (on a budget) but not sure that I can stomach cold baked beans anymore! 

LISA: OK, so with all these ideas in mind… What keeps you satisfied the longest?

AMANDA: I find both my breakfasts satisfy me equally as both are high in fibre, protein and good fats.

ERICA: Porridge seems to fill me up the most. Low GI carbs in the oats plus there is lots of good protein and fat from the nuts and seeds that I add.

LISA: I definitely feel fullest after my egg breakfasts. It’s the fibre from the vege, the fat from the avo and the protein from the eggs that absorb slowly. 

AMANDA: Let’s talk about how full we should be after breakfast time? Is it true we need to eat like a KING?

LISA: I often talk to people about being 80% full at the end of each meal. Never stuffed and never still hungry. It’s what the Japanese call Hara Hachi Bu. I also think it’s important to eat and stop eating based on our personal hunger cues, too. Some mornings I am just not as hungry as others. 

AMANDA: I 100% agree with you Lisa, I very much dislike the feeling of being ‘full’. And by that I mean that feeling where you almost have to take double the amount of small breaths because of the physical discomfort. I think that with all meals you should aim to eat enough to be absent of hunger and have enough energy in the blood- stream to power you through (at least until the next meal). You shouldn’t feel uncomfortable.

ERICA: Yes to all of this. It feels good to get up in the morning and eat a breakfast that gives you the energy to start the day with a bit of a bounce. If your brekky is too big and you feel ‘full’ or ‘stuffed’, instead of ‘satisfied’, it’s likely you’ll feel a little sluggish from the get go. Eating mindfully and at a relaxed pace can help you tune into your internal hunger cues.

LISA: Is it detrimental to skip breakfast if someone isn’t hungry? What do we think?

ERICA: I think everyone has a time of the day when they feel most hungry. For some this is breakfast and for some, it’s not. And that’s okay. However, ‘skipping’ breakfast and simply eating it later are very different things. We definitely don’t encourage skipping meals. Listen to YOUR hunger cues and be sure to fuel your body, later in the morning if needed and then throughout the day. 

LISA: I often ask clients about how much they are eating the night before. Sometimes night grazers are not hungry because they overeat the night before. I think it’s about getting the balance of all meals right. Some people extend their breakfast to later in the morning and that suits them beautifully. Again, listen to your hunger cues and fuel that metabolic fire.

AMANDA: I think it is important to read your hunger cues too. There are many instances and conditions in which I would steer people away from actively ‘intermittent fasting’. I talked about it in this blog (link). However, for some people, routinely eating a little later in the morning works well for them and they feel their best.

ERICA: What are your top 3 breakfast options for the kids before school?

AMANDA: Well, having five different children with completely different tastes and requirements, I would say to find something that is nutritious (i.e not high in sugar) that works for their taste buds. Savoury mince or avocado on toast, eggs, yoghurt with fruit and nuts…

LISA: Yep, it really depends on the child! Oats with yoghurt, hard-boiled eggs with avocado toast soldiers or a high fibre cereal often suit most kids and keep them going until their school ‘fruit break’ or recess. 

ERICA: Every child is so different in what they like, aren’t they?! Some options my kiddies enjoy are these 12WBT overnight oats, or toast with peanut butter or avocado. Often with a side of fruit! Sometimes though, it’s the tried and true banana smoothie option, adding in different fruits and/or yoghurt to make things interesting. 

AMANDA: One last one: what are your top 3 options for someone eating after a morning gym workout with not a lot of time?

LISA: Depends on the workout! Focus on carbs to replenish muscle glycogen after cardio (e.g. pack some overnight oats) and focus protein after a strength session (e.g. pack some hard-boiled eggs or yoghurt).

ERICA: I agree – Carbs and protein are key! Overnight oats are great, and the same with muesli and yoghurt (packed separately). These work really well when you’re going straight from the gym to the office. You could break out that cold can of baked beans as well (if you can, heat them up 😉 ) – lots of protein, plus quality carbs and fibre.

AMANDA: Fruit or oats work really well as glycogen replenishment after a cardio workout. If you make your oats the night before they are such an easy ‘grab and go’. Crustless quiche, scrambled eggs and yoghurt (like Lisa mentioned) are all great pre-prepared easy grab protein options.

Lisa Donaldson, APD, M.Nutr&Diet, B.Edu
Lisa is the Lead Dietitian for 12WBT. With a Masters in Nutrition & Dietietics as well as a Bachelor of Education, Lisa is keen to help all 12 Weekers understand how to achieve health for life. Lisa studied Sports Dietetics at the Australian Institute of Sport and has a keen interest in gastrointestinal health. A highly regarded communicator, Lisa is a spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia, the ‘Dietitian in Residence’ at the University of Canberra and a lecturer at the Australian Defence Force Academy. She has also been an expert on ABC Television’s Ask the Dr Series.

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