Breakfast is commonly touted as the most important meal of the day. But few of us seem to know if that is really true. And if breakfast is the most important meal, why is it? What are the benefits that eating breakfast can give you?
Boost Your Energy
Eating breakfast can boost your metabolism after you wake up. Your metabolism slows down while you are sleeping since your body does not require as much energy during sleep. When you wake up, your body needs to break out of that energy-conserving state. Breakfast is a great way to rekindle your metabolism to meet the energy demands of your day. Some people may not feel like they are hungry in the morning, but they may feel slow or like they do not have the focus they need. This could be a sign that their body needs energy from food via breakfast so they can be fueled and ready for the day.
To help with that focus, eating breakfast is also associated with improvement in memory, mood and attention span. Breakfast foods such as cereal tend to be nutrient-dense and fortified, as well as higher in carbohydrates, which may help improve focus and performance by providing much-needed glucose for your starved brain. Improved mood and attention span may also be due to the stabilization of blood sugar levels after an overnight fast, which can also ward away any irritability so that you are in the perfect mood to get your day started.
Eating breakfast can also purportedly keep weight off. According to the National Weight Registry, people who have lost weight and keep it off tend to be breakfast eaters. This could be due to other breakfast benefits such as decreasing appetite and reducing the craving for sweets, as well as burning more calories, according to a study by the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. They found that people burn more calories when they eat a higher caloric breakfast compared to those who consume the same amount of calories, but with the highest amount of calories being consumed at dinner.
Decrease Risk of Disease
Additionally, skipping breakfast may have downsides. While skipping breakfast may not necessarily cause you to gain weight, studies by The American Journal of Cardiology and The Journal of Nutrition, respectively, show that skipping breakfast is associated with a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes. This is thought to be partly due to the fact that breakfast meals tend to be higher in fiber, vitamins and minerals; the association of breakfast with decreased hunger; and because breakfast eaters are more likely to weigh less. Breakfast is also associated with people who eat healthier diets overall and are more likely to meet daily requirements for vitamins, minerals and other nutrients in their diet.
So, what are some tips on healthy breakfast eating? To fuel yourself and keep yourself from getting hungry too soon, try choosing a breakfast that is high in both protein and complex carbohydrates to give you the right energy. Here are some great examples:
Veggie Egg Scramble - Eggs are a great source of protein at 6 grams per egg. Paired with some vegetables, you will get a great meal packed with protein and fiber to get you through the first part of your day.
Peanut Butter Banana Chia Oats - If you love your grains, oats are a wonderful source of energy and a great way to start your day. You can choose to top your oats differently each day with toppings such as yogurt, peanut butter, berries, nuts or seeds.
Greek Yogurt Parfait - Greek yogurt is another great protein source that can be customized with toppings such as nuts, granola or berries for a power-packed breakfast. An added bonus - you can save time in your busy schedule creating make-ahead parfaits in mason jars or Tupperware!
Learn more about healthy eating and other wellness programs offered by Wellness Workdays.
Written by Jennifer Cassidy, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern