Breakfast is often described as the most important meal of the day. However, many people often skip breakfast because they were not hungry, did not feel like eating or they were too busy. When you go without breakfast, you are depriving your body of calories, which it has not had since the last time you ate the day before. Therefore, when you consume breakfast, you are literally “breaking the fast.”
Starting your day with a nutritious breakfast kick-starts your metabolism and provides fuel for your body and brain. Breakfast has been linked to enhancing concentration, problem-solving skills and hand-eye coordination. It is especially important for children to eat breakfast to help with their development and so they can be better learners in the classroom. Breakfast may help to maintain a healthy weight because increased satiety early in the day decreases the tendency to overeat throughout the day.
People who do not typically consume breakfast have a higher risk of becoming obese or overweight. If you do not eat breakfast in the morning, your metabolism may slow down and you will burn fewer calories. Eating breakfast can also help to replenish your supply of glucose (energy source) and provides other essential nutrients to keep your energy levels up throughout the day. We use energy at night for basal metabolism, respiration, tissue healing and many other important processes. Therefore, skipping breakfast can use up limited glucose stored in the body, causing one to experience feelings of weakness, irritability and fatigue. Breakfast foods are good sources of important nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber. The body needs these essential nutrients and if they are missed at breakfast, they are less likely to be compensated for later in the day.
It is essential to make healthy choices when selecting your breakfast foods. You should aim to eat a meal with a combination of protein and complex, unrefined carbohydrates. These types of carbohydrates will digest slower and help to keep you feeling full because of their high fiber content. These include whole grain products, oatmeal, fruits and vegetables. Consuming a breakfast high in simple, refined carbohydrates is not recommended in the morning. These carbohydrates are digested quickly and cause a quick insulin reaction. Unlike complex carbohydrates, simple carbohydrates do not keep you feeling full for a long period of time. Simple carbohydrates include sugary cereals, white bread, cakes, cookies and pastries.
If you are busy in the morning, have some grab-and-go options available such as a whole grain waffle with peanut butter, hard boiled eggs, yogurt, and fruit. If you do not have an appetite, start with a small snack instead. This will at least get your metabolism going and help you burn more calories throughout the day.
Healthy Breakfast Ideas
Oats & Nuts
- 1 cup cooked oats
- 2 tbsp. nuts of your choice (almond and walnuts are good options)
- 1/2 cup fresh fruit
Yogurt & Cereal
- 1/2 cup or 1 cup low-fat or non-fat yogurt
- Handful of high fiber cereal
- 1/2 cup of berries
Eggs & Toast
- 1 slice 100 percent whole grain bread or a 100 percent whole grain flour tortilla
- 1 scrambled egg
- 1 slice of cheese
- 1 cup low-fat or non-fat milk
- 1/2 cup fresh fruit