Breakfast of Champions

Knock together a match-winning breakfast with the help of sports nutritionist Matt Lovell
  • The Full Monty
  • The continental breakfast
  • A rooting, tooting way to start the day
  • The Breakfast of Champions

Matt Lovell runs the rule over breakfasts from around the world...

The English Breakfast

Beans, fried egg, sausages, bacon, mushrooms, black pudding, tomato, toast, tea

With the help of a few tweaks, the traditional fry-up isn’t as bad as you might think to fuel you for 90 minutes.

Fibre, protein and carbohydrate-rich baked beans are an excellent inclusion in any breakfast, along with a fried egg, cooked in olive oil.

“The protein and good fat content is going to help you feel fuller for longer,” explains Lovell.“Go crazy on the mushrooms – have as many as you like. Shitake mushrooms are renowned for their immune system-boosting properties. They're low in calories, but very filling,” added Lovell.

Packed with antioxidants, vitamin C and cancer-preventing lycopene, a grilled tomato is a great choice. Choose rye bread for your toast, which contains extra carbs for added energy.

“For a purer source of protein, trim the rind off back bacon, which is better for you than streaky,” said Lovell."You should consider laying off the sausages and black pudding. Both are high in saturated fat and can include lots of preservatives, which could cause future health problems."

Though its performance benefit is negligible, tea is rich in polyphenols, known for long-term health benefits. If you’re feeling crazy, mix things up with green or roobios tea.

“Overall too high in fat and not high enough in quality protein, it at least has some vegetables and fibre in the beans. I’d seriously think about leaving the black pudding on the side, though.”

Matt’s verdict: 7/10


The French Breakfast

Croissant, bowl of muesli, brioche, salami, espresso

A bowl of muesli with oats, nuts and some dried fruit is a great start. “The nuts provide healthy oils while slow-release carbs from the oats,” said Lovell.

But things go downhill for the French breakfast from there - croissants are loaded with fat and carbs, which negate any benefits even if filled with antioxidant-rich chocolate.

Brioche suffers a similar fat-and-carbs fate and salami offers little reprieve with its high fat content.

If you’re not a morning person, an espresso is not a problem. “The caffeine will help if kick-off or training is soon.

“The muesli provides carbs and can help cholesterol levels. Protein in lean ham, instead of salami, will help to slow down the digestion of the other foods.”

Matt’s verdict: 5/10 

The American Breakfast

Muffin, bagel, pancakes and syrup and a cup of coffee

“You can get away with eating this food post-training, but not for breakfast,” is Lovell’s damning assessment of the traditional stars and stripes morning meal.

Muffins are too high in sugar and fat to aid on-field brilliance. Though dripping in carbohydrates, Lovell says syrup with the pancakes is suicide.

“You’ll be producing insulin by the bucket load. That’s going to end up turning the excess carbohydrate into fat,” says Lovell.

"Berries and natural yoghurt, sincerely lacking in this breakfast, are a much better option."

Lovell says only a carefully-garnished bagel would have any performance-enhancing benefits to this fat jamboree.

Smoked salmon and a thin spread of cream cheese or peanut butter would be the perfect accompaniment.

“The cup of coffee is going to help you stay awake after your blood sugar level comes crashing down after all the high-energy carbs,” he said.

“This breakfast would only be good if you have had a cup match and it's gone to extra time and penalties. No wonder America has a problem with obesity if this is what they eat for breakfast.”

Matt’s verdict: 3/10 

Winner: The Breakfast of Champions

Matt's choice start to the day...

Scrambled eggs

An easily digested protein source that will help keep you full for 2-3 hours.

Two slices of rye bread toast

Better than wheat as it is less likely to cause any bloating, it's a good source of carbohydrate to ensure that your glycogen levels are topped up.

Mushrooms and tomatoes

Fried in a desert spoon of virgin organic coconut oil, both are easily digested and the coconut oil is a metabolism-boosting source of fat.

Fresh mango and fresh pineapple

These fruits are low in fibre and release their energy relatively slowly so they help stabilise your blood sugar levels.

Also see:
Jermaine Jenas' perfect breakfast

Matt Lovell Nutrition

Matt Lovell

Elite sports nutritionist

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