Is it really the most important meal of the day?

ImageBreakfast has always been my favorite meal of the day.  I always wake up hungry whether it be for eggs over easy or a crunchy bowl of honey granola and yogurt.  There was never any question for me whether I was going to eat breakfast or not; however, I have found that I know more and more people who don’t eat breakfast everyday.

People who skip breakfast usually do so because they are not hungry in the morning, they feel as if they don’t have enough time, or are using it as a diet technique (saving the calories they would have for breakfast for later on in the day).  There are so many studies, however, that prove skipping breakfast is a bad choice for your health. “According to research, skipping meals, especially breakfast, can actually make weight control more difficult.” (WebMD)

By eating in the morning you are breaking the fast (break-fast) from the night before.  Usually people go from the time they finish dinner until the next morning when they wake up. This can be up to 12+ hours that you are not eating, so breakfast not only provides you with a sufficient energy source until lunch but it also tells your body not to go into starvation.

People who skip breakfast tend to eat more throughout the day than their breakfast eating friends. “Several studies suggest that people tend to accumulate more body fat when they eat fewer, larger meals than when they eat the same number of calories in smaller, more frequent meals.” (WebMD) They are more likely to eat sugary, poor energy snacks throughout the day.

Skipping breakfast also makes people ravenous by the lunch hour, therefore making them consume more food than they might otherwise have.  Skipping breakfast alters your body’s schedule for meals and snacks, making them less balanced overall.

For a well balanced breakfast it is best to eat a combination of healthy whole-grain carbohydrates, protein, and fiber.  A breakfast that is high in fiber and low in energy-dense foods (than an energy-dense breakfast) allows you to eat more food  and is likely to keep you feeling full longer.

A bagel and cream cheese is the epitome of an energy dense food. It gives you a quick spurt of energy, because it is high in calories and fat from the cream cheese but it doesn’t keep you full for very long.

If you swap out your bagel and cream cheese for a piece of whole grain toast, peanut butter and a banana you will have a more satisfying, nutritious breakfast that prevents you from scrounging for snacks all morning until lunch.

Here are some examples of well-balanced breakfasts that combine healthy carbohydrates, protein, and fiber.

Image

This whole grain piece of toast with cranberry and walnuts, peanut butter (protein), and a banana with fresh fruit on the side (for additional fiber) is a great way to start off your day.

Image

Oatmeal is the perfect high-fiber, healthy carbohydrate breakfast. This will definitely keep you full until lunch.  For the oatmeal above I cooked a 1/2 cup of oatmeal with milk and frozen blackberries (they boil down to create a syrup that flavors the oats – you can use any frozen fruit for this.  I especially like blueberries and raspberries).  I then topped it with slivered almonds, peanut butter, and more fresh berries.

Image

A homemade breakfast sandwich is the perfect way to get protein and healthy carbohydrates in the morning.  Making one at home is just as easy as driving through a fast food place and it is much healthier for you.  Toast an English muffin and top with lettuce, avocado, tomatoes, one fried egg, and a piece of cheddar cheese.

 Image

A breakfast smoothie is great if you are crunched on time.  Just blend together 1 cup of juice (or half juice, half water), 1/4 cup of plain greek yogurt, 1 cup of frozen fruit (I use a combination of pineapple, raspberries and blueberries), 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder, 2 teaspoons of chia seeds, and 3-4 ice cubes.  This is perfect on its own for breakfast, but if you like something more substantial you can have a piece of toast or granola bar on the side for some carbs.

(This recipe yields 2-3 smoothies.)

Image

Granola recently has been getting a bad reputation for not being a good “health food.” This can certainly be the case. There are a lot of sugary or high fat granola brands out there, but if you read and compare brands you will see that they can offer a healthy dose of carbohydrates and fiber and still be low in sugar.  My personal favorite is Kashi granola.  I like to have it with yogurt and fresh fruit.

Image

Cereal is a perfect breakfast for someone who is not a huge fan of breakfast.  It is a simple meal that gives you some energy for the morning without making you feel too full.  Top it with milk and fresh fruit and you have a perfect well-balanced breakfast.  I am not a huge cereal consumer but I do like Cheerios every once in a while.  The multigrain variety of Cheerios has been deemed one of the healthiest cereal options. For the healthiest cereal brands click here.

Sources:
Feature, Jeanie Lerche DavisWebMD. "Lose Weight: Eat Breakfast." WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 16 Jan. 2013.
"Importance of Healthy Breakfast: Why Skipping Is Harmful." WebMD. WebMD, 03 Jan. 0000. Web. 14 Jan. 2013.