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July 21, 2020 8 min read

If you’re like me, you’ve heard of the importance of eating breakfast since you were a kid; Don’t start your day off on the wrong foot! Fill up your belly before you head out the door to tackle the day! You may be wondering: is breakfast as important as they say?

Simply put, breakfast is the meal with which you break your overnight fast. You might not consider the time between dinner (or bedtime snack) and breakfast a fast, but that’s what it is. A fast is several consecutive hours in which you do not eat. Fasting can last anywhere from 6-24 hours or more depending on the reasoning for the fast.

The Most Important Meal of the Day?

The claim that breakfast is the most important food you will eat all day was, for a while, accepted as fact. Now, it seems that experts disagree. Research is available all over the map concerning whether skipping breakfast will be the downfall of your overall health, or if it’s no big deal. Some experts even suggest that eating breakfast can lead to weight gain. Gaining weight because of eating breakfast is certainly not what most Canadians are trying to accomplish. Let’s take a look at both sides of the argument. 

Eating Breakfast is Necessary

In countries all over the world, the importance of eating breakfast is generally accepted. The thinking is that starting your day without an intake of calories and nutrients is similar to starting a car while running on empty. Studies show that students that eat breakfast had better grades and were more likely to graduate. Other studies show that eating breakfast improves mental focus and performance. On the negative side, skipping breakfast is linked to an increased risk of heart attack and heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. The benefits of eating the morning meal include:

  • More energy through the day
  • Better concentration and mental performance
  • Better mood and reduced mood swings
  • Fewer cravings
  • Reduced risk of the health conditions mentioned above

Eating Breakfast is Not Necessary

On the other hand, Flavia Cicuttini, an Australian rheumatologist and researcher, helped analyze 13 random clinical trials and found that there was no evidence to support that people who ate breakfast consumed less food throughout the rest of the day. She also found no evidence to support claims that those calories consumed first thing in the morning were any better for you than calories consumed at any other time of the day. What’s more, depending on what people consume for their first meal of the day, eating breakfast can lead to excess calorie consumption in a day.

She’s not the only expert that believes there has been an overstatement on the importance of eating breakfast. Other studies show that between two groups, those that eat at least 700 calories within the first two hours of waking up, and those that do not eat until noon, had no measurable changes in resting metabolic rates, cholesterol, or blood sugar after a six-week study. 

The Bottom Line: Breakfast May be Important, But if You Skip It There’s No Harm Done

If you wake up very hungry, or you enjoy breakfast, eat it! If you prefer to skip it, skip! The only time eating breakfast seems to be of vital importance is in childhood. If you tend to feel foggy and tired in the morning, perhaps trying breakfast in the morning may make a difference to you.

Not all breakfast foods are equal. Whether you eat breakfast or not seems to be less important than what you are choosing to eat. So, if you want to eat breakfast, you’re better off choosing a healthy and balanced meal. 

Meal Replacements for Breakfast

Meal replacement breakfast shakes could be the solution for people that enjoy breakfast, but find that they are too short on time. Choosing a healthy meal replacement breakfast shake could give you a boost of energy, less mental fog, and better mood while avoiding the excess calories.

If you don’t eat breakfast because you aren’t hungry, meal replacements may also solve the problem. Many people find drinking their calories to be much more comfortable than the process of chewing, and if you choose a breakfast shake that is low in calories and carbohydrates, but higher in protein, you may find that you don’t feel too full after drinking.

The key to a good breakfast shake is choosing the brand and type wisely. Selecting the wrong shake could potentially cancel out all the benefits of starting your day with breakfast.

Avoid These Things in Breakfast Shakes

To avoid potential weight gain and consuming excess calories, avoid meal replacement shakes that:

  • Have excessive calories
  • Have added sugar
  • Have refined carbohydrates
  • Have excessive sodium
  • Have corn syrup or hydrogenated oils
  • Use chemical preservatives and artificial flavours

Unfortunately, this means avoiding popular breakfast shakes that are available in the grocery store, such as Carnation breakfast shakes.

The Best Breakfast Shakes

Luckily for you, you can turn to sports supplements for a healthier alternative breakfast shake. Meal replacement shakes have come a long way, and you can now find breakfast shakes made from whole foods, with carbs that come from quality, complex sources, and a healthy serving of protein. Many meal replacements also include vitamins and minerals, and all the ingredients to make up a healthy, balanced meal. Here are our favourite meal replacement breakfast shakes for every person:

The Best Breakfast Shake for the Vegan

Vega One Protein Meal Replacement

Macros: 123 calories, 3 grams of fat, 12 grams of carbs, 20 grams of protein

Why we love it as a breakfast shake: Vega’s meal replacement shake makes an excellent breakfast shake because it includes:

  • Half the daily value of twelve vitamins and minerals
  • Shelf-stable live probiotics for gut health
  • Fiber for digestibility and regulation
  • Greens for a jump on your daily servings of vegetables
  • A great taste with only two grams of added sugar

Why we love the brand: We love Vega because it’s the number one plant-based protein line. They combine whole, plant-based foods to bring bodies the nutrition they crave without compromising flavour or texture. Vega is committed to veganism, no GMOs, no gluten, no artificial flavours or preservatives, sustainability, and giving back.

The Best Breakfast Shake for the Bulker

Mammoth Meal Replacement

Macros: 200 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 20 grams of carbs, 20 grams of protein (per two scoops)

Why we love it as a breakfast shake: Mammoth Meal Replacement makes a great breakfast shake because it’s:

  • E-Z dosed, which means it’s customizable for the bulking athlete
  • Formulated without peanuts and gluten
  • A good source of fiber and an excellent serving of protein
  • Includes BCAA to reduce muscle breakdown and speed up recovery
  • Contains live probiotics, greens, electrolytes, and has a great taste with only two grams of sugar (per two scoops)

Why we love the brand: Mammoth Supplements has been an industry leader for over thirty years and has a full line of clean, scientifically-backed sports supplements. Mammoth is banned substance-free, meaning that they manufacture their products in a facility that prohibits substances banned by sports regulatory bodies. 

The Best Breakfast Shake for the Keto Dieter

ANS Performance KetoSys Meal Replacement

Macros: 410 calories, 32 grams of fat, 10 grams of carbs, 20 grams of protein

Why we love it as a breakfast shake: ANS Performance’s meal replacement shake makes a great breakfast shake for the Keto diet. Seventy percent of the calories in this meal replacement come from premium fat sources like coconut oil and flaxseed oil. Twenty percent of the calories come from varied, quality protein sources to bring you sustainable protein throughout the day. Only ten percent of the calories in this meal replacement shake come from carbohydrates, which makes it ideal for the keto diet. ANS Performance KetoSys also includes:

  • Enzymes for digestion and absorption
  • Fiber
  • No gluten, artificial dyes, banned substances
  • Only one gram of sugar

Why we love the brand: ANS Performance is one of the most widely recognized and trusted sports supplement brands. Their innovative and science-backed products are created by athletes and scientists to bring you the best quality supplements for the best price.

The Best Breakfast Shake for the Sweet Tooth

BSN Syntha-6 Meal Replacement

Macros: 200 calories, 6 grams of fat, 13 grams of carbs, 22 grams of protein

Why we love it as a breakfast shake: BSN’s meal replacement is the best tasting protein on the market. It makes an excellent breakfast shake for those that love sweets in the morning or are switching from a lower quality breakfast shake that’s packed with sugar. BSN’s meal replacement has:

  • Essential amino acids for muscle recovery
  • Essential fatty acids
  • Fiber and protein from quality sources

Why we love the brand: We love BSN because, since it’s creation in 2001, it has since won over 35 sports nutrition awards - that’s more than any other sports nutrition brand. BSN has a wide array of loyal customers that are satisfied by its massive selection of products for every lifestyle.

Have More Time? Make a Smoothie

Arguably, the best part about meal replacement shakes replacing your breakfast is the speed of the process. Breakfast shakes are as quick and easy as pouring water or your milk (or milk alternative of choice) into a blender bottle, scooping the meal replacement powder, shaking, and drinking. It’s easy to make your breakfast shake and drink it while walking out the door, on your drive, or you can even keep it in the office to drink as soon as you get in. If you happen to have more time, try including your meal replacement shake in a smoothie.

Take your breakfast shake to the next level with this foolproof smoothie blueprint:

Hint: choose meal replacement powders in vanilla flavours for creamy fruit smoothies.

This recipe formula makes two 16-ounce smoothies.

  • 375 mL liquid of your choice (water, juice, milk, milk alternative, tea, etc.)
  • 30 mL binder of your choice (nut butter, oats, flaxseed, etc.)
  • Two handfuls of fresh or frozen fruit of your choice (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches, mangos, etc.)
  • Approximately six ice cubes. Omit ice if you are using frozen fruit.
  • 30-60 mL meal replacement powder
  • One soft fruit (banana, avocado, etc.)
  • Optional: Superfood boost (chia seeds, cocoa nibs, greens powder, spinach, matcha powder, sea salt, etc.)
  • Optional: Sweetener of your choice (stevia, agave nectar, honey, etc.)

Start with your liquid, so the ingredients don’t stick to the bottom of the blender. Then add all ingredients and blend until smooth. Pour into two large glasses, garnish with a slice of fruit or mint if you’re feeling fancy, and enjoy.

Notes: Making a tasty smoothie comes down to personal preference and experimentation. If you’re not a smoothie pro, you might have to try a couple of variations before finding your sweet spot. Certain fruit choices may not need an added sweetener (bananas!), while others may be bitter if you leave it out.

The Breakfast Solution: Meal Replacements

When it comes to diet, it’s less about when you eat and more about what you’re eating. If you love breakfast, but you need to resolve to make more nutritionally dense food choices, meal replacements are an excellent option.

If you feel foggy or moody in the morning, and you regularly skip out on your first meal of the day, try breakfast shakes to see if you notice a difference. Whether you usually skip breakfast because you’re short on time or you’re just not hungry, meal replacement shakes solve both those issues.

If you hate breakfast with a passion, and can’t bring yourself to force it down, studies show that you’ll be just fine. While some experts will shame you for skipping out on “the most important meal of the day,” others will have your back with their own opinion that it’s no big deal.

Whenever you’re eating, just try to make healthy, nutrient-dense choices. A balanced diet paired with physical exercise is the formula for a long, happy, and healthy life.

Be well!



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