Seven of the best lower carb breakfast swaps 1 April 2022 By Michelle Tong APD CDE We all know breakfast is an important meal and there is no better way to kick start your day than with a tasty one. With every meal you should aim to eat a combination of low glycaemic index (GI) carbohydrates, protein, fibre, and healthy fats. These give you adequate nutrients and sustained energy throughout the day. However, when it comes to breakfasts some can be heavy on the carbs, high in added sugar and/or saturated fat, and light on fibre, meaning you are starting your day running on fuel that won’t last. All about carbs Carbohydrates fuel your body as the preferred source of energy. It is therefore important to have some carbohydrates in your diet, especially low GI carbohydrates such as wholegrains, legumes, fruit, and starchy vegetables. These are full of important nutrients, vitamins and fibre. Try not to view carbohydrates as a problem but do be mindful of the serve sizes you are consuming. A lower carb meal may help to lower or maintain your blood glucose levels. A good start is to not add sugar to your cereal, choose no-added-sugar cereal, or eat a whole piece of fruit instead of a glass of fruit juice. These simple steps immediately lower the carbs in your breakfast. Don’t be mistaken that a lower carb meal also equals lower energy intake, as measured by kilojoules or calories. Replacing carbohydrates with a higher protein option can also mean higher amounts of fat, such as in almond flour, nut butters, nuts and seeds, meats, and cheese. When you eat higher energy (kilojoule or calories) than your body requires, weight gain can occur, which can indirectly impact your blood glucose levels. Building blocks In building a lower carb breakfast, it is important to consider whether you are overloading it with too much fat and the types of fats used. For example, it is better to choose the healthier fats – polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats – found in nuts and seeds, fish, avocados, rather than large amounts of the unhealthier saturated fats found in animal products such as sausages, bacon, full fat dairy like cheese, yoghurt or milk, and coconut oil. When you are cutting down on your carbs for breakfast, you could focus on adding more protein-rich foods to help you keep full for longer, such as: EggsLow fat unflavoured yoghurtCottage/ricotta cheeseNuts and seedsNut buttersChia seedsBarley or oatsTofuNut flour (e.g. almond flour)Lentils and legumesQuinoaVegetables Lower carb breakfast swaps: Higher carb optionsSwapsFruit flavoured yogurtChoose natural low fat yoghurt, flavoured with fresh or frozen berries. Porridge made with oatsTry chia seed pudding. Or substitute half the oats with a smaller amount of quinoa/almond flour or other nut flour. Reduce the oats and whisk in an egg white while your cooked oats are off the heat. This gives you an extra fluffy texture and an extra portion of protein. WafflesSubstitute regular wheat flour with chickpea flour and use roughly mashed berries as a topping. PancakesSubstitute half the flour with chickpea flour or nut flour such as almond flour. Top pancakes with a savoury topping instead of sweet. Or make zucchini and corn fritters instead of pancakes. Top with baked tomatoes and onion. Yoghurt muesliUse low fat natural yoghurt topped with nuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and fresh or frozen berries. Breakfast sandwichesTurn a two-slice sandwich into an open-face toastie using only one slice of a heavy grain bread, or choose a lower carb bread with extra toppings: Scrambled egg + cheese + ¼ medium avocado, Poached egg + reduced fat fetta cheese + tahini + grilled eggplant and zucchini, Sunnyside up egg + reduced fat ricotta cheese + toasted pine nuts + asparagus, Boiled egg + reduced fat cream cheese + green olives + grilled mushrooms & tomatoes.SmoothiesUse half your usual smoothie recipe’s milk and add fresh or frozen berries + peanut butter + chia seeds + cauliflower floret. Or try adding spinach + avocado + flax seeds + natural yoghurt. We all know carbohydrates can have an impact on your blood glucose levels. But before you jump on the bandwagon to cut out all carbohydrates, just try lowering the carb in your meals, starting with breakfast. Make sure you speak to your dietitian to ensure it is suitable for your current diabetes management, especially if you are taking certain glucose lowering medications, such as sulfonylureas or insulin, that can cause hypoglycaemia. Remember, carbohydrates, proteins and fats are important for your body to maintain optimum health. It is never ideal to have too much of anything – balance is always the key!