Breakfast is your body’s early morning refueling process, so improve your energy, brain activity and health by starting off your mornings with a nutritious meal.
After 8-12 hours without food, your brain needs to replenish its glucose (blood sugar). The brain needs a fresh supply of glucose because it doesn’t have stored reserves. Breakfast eating also is associated with better attitude towards work or school and higher productivity.
Although breakfast helps you get off to a good start, it’s important to choose healthier options at breakfast, which can make a difference in your energy level in the morning. When breakfast consists mainly of sugary foods (fruit juice, sugary cereals, soda or candy) there is a quick rise in your blood sugar causing a surge of energy. After an hour or so, blood sugar and energy levels decline, bringing on symptoms of hunger. When eating a more balanced breakfast (carbohydrate, protein and fat), a sustained release of energy occurs. This delays symptoms of hunger for several hours and maintains blood sugar levels.
Breakfast is especially important for children. Kids who eat breakfast are more likely to have better concentration, problem solving skills, hand/eye coordination, alertness and creativity. They are also likely to miss fewer days of school, and are likely to be more physically active and less likely to be overweight. Also, encouraging children to eat breakfast is instilling good eating habits for their future.
Those who eat breakfast are sometimes known to be more successful at losing weight. Those that eat breakfast usually make better food choices throughout the day. Those who eat breakfast tend to eat more vitamins and minerals, eat lass fat and cholesterol, and have lower cholesterol, which might reduce the risk of heart disease.
Those that skip breakfast also tend to eat more calories throughout the course of the day as compared to those that do eat breakfast. This could be as a result of feeling hungrier due to skipping a meal, and then making poor food choices such as food with higher fat and calories. Eating breakfast may help control appetite and lower the chances of overeating throughout the day. When breakfast is skipped and your body is in the fasting state, the body tries to compensate by storing extra fat for fear it will not be fed, therefore making it harder to lose weight.
A good breakfast should consist of whole grains (100 percent whole wheat breads or bagels, hot or cold whole grain cereals, low fat bran muffins or whole grain waffles or pancakes), low-fat protein (hard boiled eggs, peanut butter or lean slices of meat, poultry or fish), low-fat dairy (skim milk, low-fat yogurt and low-fat cheese) and fruits and vegetables (fresh fruits and vegetables or 100 percent juice beverages without added sugars). When searching for healthy breakfast foods, look for breads and cereals with at least three grams of fiber per serving, but if possible aim for five or more grams per serving.
If you’re on the run, try a high-fiber cereal topped with sliced banana and yogurt, peanut butter on whole wheat toast with a glass of skim milk, breakfast shakes or smoothies, a turkey and cheese sandwich and a banana (breakfast is not limited to traditional breakfast foods), or a toasted whole wheat waffle topped with fruit and yogurt. Plan ahead and make your grab-and-go breakfast the night before so it will be ready in the morning.
Whitney Roberts is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator for the Blount Memorial Weight Management Center.