SAVOURY BREAKFASTS TO STEADY YOUR GLUCOSE:
THE ULTIMATE 2024 GUIDE
This is a complete guide to savoury breakfasts, one of my most powerful hacks.
So if you’re looking to:
→ Manage your glucose.
→ Reduce cravings and hunger.
→ Feel amazing.
Then you're in the right place. Let’s get started.
SWEET VS. SAVOURY BREAKFAST
It's a common assumption that eating something sweet for breakfast is good because it will give us energy for the rest of the day. But that's not exactly true.
Even though glucose (found in starches and sugars) is our body's main energy source, if we eat too much of it during a meal, our body releases insulin to get rid of the excess. So instead of the newly digested glucose molecules staying around in our system to be used for fuel, they get stored away – as glycogen or fat.
Science shows us that, while a sweet and starchy breakfast gives us pleasure (it releases dopamine in our brain), it is not the best way to give us energy. A sweet and starchy breakfast leads to a glucose spike, which hurts our body’s ability to make energy efficiently, makes us tired, and kicks off all kinds of side effects.
As a result, at equal calories, a breakfast that keeps our glucose levels steady leads to more circulating energy than one that creates a glucose spike.
And that’s not all: a breakfast glucose spike will make us hungry again sooner; and the bigger the breakfast spike, the bigger the drop after it, and therefore the worse the hunger and cravings will be. That breakfast will also deregulate our glucose levels for the rest of the day, so our lunch and dinner in turn will create bigger spikes.
The best way to have steady energy is to switch to a savoury breakfast, avoiding the crash we usually get a couple of hours later.
If you’re looking for a perfect breakfast that gives you steady energy, go savoury!
WHAT'S A SAVOURY BREAKFAST?
A savoury breakfast is essentially a breakfast that doesn’t have sugar or starch as a main ingredient. Here are some examples of sweet vs. savoury breakfasts and their impact on our glucose levels.
Savoury breakfasts can be very versatile; they range from classic combos like eggs and bacon to something fancier like avocado toast. Sometimes we want something sweet and fresh in the morning, and in that case we can add some whole fruit to our breakfast.
Even though whole fruit has some glucose in it, it’s the best way to eat something sweet because it also contains fiber, which helps slow down the absorption of glucose into our bloodstream. To minimize the impact on our glucose even further, we can eat our whole fruit at the end of our breakfast.
HOW TO BUILD A SAVOURY BREAKFAST
An ideal breakfast for steady glucose contains protein, fiber, fat, and optional starch and fruit (ideally, eaten last). Here’s how to make a savoury breakfast that keeps your glucose levels steady and helps you feel really great for the rest of the day. Your savoury breakfast should keep you full for 4 hours. If that’s not the case, increase the amount of protein in it.
Build it around protein.
Protein is the centerpiece of a savoury breakfast – it’s what keeps us steady, full and satiated. Our glucose levels love protein. Examples include: Greek yogurt, tofu, meat, cold cuts, fish, cheese, cream cheese, protein powder, nuts, nut butter, seeds and, yes, eggs (scrambled, fried, poached or boiled).
Scramble your eggs in butter or olive oil and add slices of avocado, or stir almonds, chia seeds or flax seeds into your Greek yogurt. Skip the fat-free yogurt and switch to 5% fat Greek yogurt. Fat is very important and not to be feared.
Add fiber if possible.
It can be challenging to include fiber in the morning because it means eating veggies for breakfast. Not everyone is into that. But if you can, do it. You can mix spinach into your scrambled eggs or tuck it underneath a sliced avocado on toast. Literally any vegetable will do, from spinach, mushrooms or tomatoes to courgettes, artichokes, sauerkraut, lentils or lettuce.
If you want, add optional starches.
This can be bread, tortilla, rice, or potatoes. But only if your taste buds want them, and they should be there just for taste, not as the center of your breakfast.
Don’t eat anything sweet, except optional whole fruit.
If you are going to eat some sugar (but remember, it’s just for pleasure), a whole piece of fruit is okay. First, in a whole piece of fruit, sugar is found in small quantities (and we usually eat whole fruit more slowly and in less quantity than juices or smoothies). Second, in a whole piece of fruit, sugar is always accompanied by fiber, which significantly reduces the spike. Avoid dried fruit or fruit juices, no honey or agave or other sugars. Some stevia is ok if you must sweeten something.
WHY IS THE FIRST MEAL OF THE DAY SO IMPORTANT?
First thing in the morning, when we are in our fasted state, our body is at its most sensitive to glucose. Our stomach is empty, so anything that lands in it will be digested extremely quickly. Which is why eating sugars and starches at breakfast often leads to the biggest spike of the day.
Breakfast is the worst time to eat just sugar and starches, yet it’s the time at which most of us do exactly that.
You may not yet have traced back the symptoms you feel throughout the day to your breakfast. And no wonder – because we don’t instantly feel the effect that a spiky breakfast has on us. If, as soon as we ate that bowl of cereal, we were to have a panic attack then fall asleep at the table, we’d get it. But because metabolic processes take hours to unfold, compound over time and become mixed with all the other things that happen in a day, connecting the dots takes a bit of detective work – at least until we get the hang of it.
Let's have a look at the different types of breakfast foods that a lot of us have been used to eating since a young age.
In 2018, a Stanford University team showed that common foods, like cereal breakfast, provoke huge glucose spikes -even above 200 mg/dL - in healthy individuals without diabetes.
Even though marketing touts it as part of a healthy diet, regular breakfast cereal is mostly just sugar and refined carbs, and even cereals labeled as “healthy” and “low calories” can spike our glucose. So cereal for breakfast is, unequivocally, not a good way to start the day.
Most granolas and muesli have just about as much sugar in them as regular cereal.
So, if you are a fan of cereals, remember this:
Look for cereals that don't have sugar, honey, dates, raisins, or similar in the top 5 ingredients on the packaging;
Look for cereals with high fiber, low carbs, or with a nut base;
Pair your cereals with proteins and fat, like whole milk, Greek yogurt, and unsweetened nut milk, instead of skim milk; or you can add some protein on the side.
Oats are another classic breakfast food that usually lead to glucose spikes. Oats are 100% starch, and starch turns to glucose when digested. But there are a few tips that we can use to flatten our curve whilst still enjoying our morning oats:
Pick steel-cut oats: rolled or instant oats are more processed, so they spike us even higher than steel-cut oats.
Add protein and fat: eggs are great, but you can also add protein powder, nut butter, Greek yogurt, or ghee, for example.
Add fiber: there are a lot of options, like hemp or chia seeds, cauliflower rice, or all sort of nuts.
Pick a friendly fruit: berries are the best option; try to avoid tropical fruit, dried fruit, and fruit juices.
Even though smoothies are an extremely popular breakfast option, labeled as healthy, not all smoothies are created equal! In fact, the smoothies that contain only fruit spike our glucose. When we blend fruit into a smoothie, the blades of the blender pulverize the fiber particles of the fruit, and the fiber is less useful in preventing a spike.
A glucose-healthy smoothie is one centered around protein, fat, and fiber, with just some fruit for taste. My tips to create a glucose-approved smoothie:
Contain a source of protein: protein powder, nuts, nut butter...
Contain a source of fat: avocado, coconut oil, nut butter...
Have a minimal amount of fruit, and ideally berries.
Unlimited amounts of veggies.
Let's think through it: when we eat toast, which is starch, and we add sugar to it, like jam for example, the spike gets bigger. But if we add fat, fiber, and protein to it, like almond butter, the spike is reduced.
It's also good to note that there are some types of bread that are better for our glucose: sourdough or dark seed bread.
Tip: put some clothes on your carbs. If you're eating carbs (sugars and starches), add protein, fat, or fiber to them to flatten your glucose curve.
Tip: pick a glucose-steady bread:
Dark rye bread
EASY SAVOURY BREAKFAST IDEAS
The most common savoury breakfast ideas are often egg-centric. But don't worry, if you're bored of eggs, there are plenty of other delicious foods to have for breakfast:
A bagel with cream cheese, topped with a few lettuce leaves and slices of turkey
A can of tuna, a few pecans and olives, a drizzle of olive oil
An apple with walnuts and slices of cheddar
Full-fat yogurt with sliced fruit such as a peach, a drizzle of tahini, and salt
Greek yogurt swirled with 2 tablespoons of nut butter and a handful of berries
Half an avocado with three tablespoons of hummus, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt
Homemade granola that is nut-centric or cereal designed specifically with extra fiber or protein
Slices of ham on crackers
Slices of smoked salmon, avocado, and tomato
Toast with almond butter
Toast with mashed avocado
Tomato and mozzarella with a drizzle of olive oil
A tortilla filled with black beans and chopped avocado
Pan-fried halloumi cheese, tomatoes, salad
My go-to: leftovers from last night’s dinner!
And if you need that extra inspiration, you can get beautifully crafted recipes each month with my Recipe Club.
If you’re looking for the best breakfast to take care of your health, have steady energy all day long, and stay full and satisfied, choose a savoury breakfast.
Avoid sugar-packed foods like breakfast cereal or fruit juice; instead, eat foods rich in fiber, protein, and fat, like nuts, Greek yogurt, or egg; eat only whole fruit to satisfy your sweet tooth; and, if you need it, use sweeteners like stevia or monk fruit.