The Importance of a Good Breakfast

You heard it as a kid and you hear it now: “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”

It is true. Breakfast is important every morning and I am going to let you know why, along with sharing  some great breakfast ideas with you.

Metabolism Booster

Breakfast is important because it does just that. It “breaks” the “fast” from your sleep. In other words, it helps kick-start your metabolism daily. This will help you lose weight or maintain your current weight, not to mention just keep you healthier in general. If you skip breakfast, you throw your body into starvation mode. This process actually slows down your metabolism and does not allow you to lose weight and may even cause you to gain weight.

For example, if you ate dinner at 7pm the night before, then you skip breakfast and go through your work day without eating lunch until noon, your body is now confused because you have been awake since 7am, got ready for work, drove to work and have been working without any fuel. So when you do eat lunch at noon, your body will hold on to those calories without letting them burn naturally. Now, your body fears that you will go 17 hours without eating again.

Even if you seem to feel hungry soon after eating breakfast that just means your metabolism is working. Remember your body only knows what you actually do to it, not your thoughts or best intentions. Your body, energy level and metabolism will thank you for eating breakfast.

Timing is Key

Breakfast should ideally be eaten within 2 hours from when you wake up. From there you want to eat every 3-4 hours to keep that metabolism moving and to give your body and brain energy to work as effectively and efficiently as possible. When you go too long without eating, not only do you slow down your metabolism, but you also are not at your best. You need energy and fuel from food. It will keep you sharper, smarter and more productive throughout the day.

How do you feel when you go too long without eating? I become tired, lethargic and overall groggy and grouchy. I call this being “hangry” – my own made up word combining hungry and angry. My husband can tell when I am getting hangry. Believe me, it isn’t pretty – so I try to avoid it – by timing my meals/snacks better throughout the day. Don’t forget to keep portions in check when you are eating with a proper time schedule, so you do not overeat.

Your Breakfast Questions Answered

The number one thing I hear when I am advising people to start eating breakfast is: “I am not hungry in the morning.” My reply is that you don’t have to eat a lot, but eat something. I also explain how it helps metabolism, energy, and overall health and productivity throughout the day.

The next question I hear is: “What should I eat for breakfast?” This answer is simple: anything you want. Your breakfast does not need to be the typical breakfast food. The goal is to keep the portions controlled and try to pick more nutritious options. There is different research and debate. Some say you must have protein, others say have carbs, others say fiber. Any of these can be correct; so, let me explain how and why.

Some research stresses the importance of having protein at breakfast. This is because protein and fat digest more slowly than carbohydrates. Therefore it helps most people feel full longer. Remember, most protein sources are also fat sources so you have to be careful in regards to calories, fat and saturated fat when choosing these food sources – such as eggs, bacon, ham, sausage and other proteins. Try choosing low-fat and low-sodium options for your protein.

When choosing carbohydrates, since they digest more quickly, you want to choose a fiber-rich grain. Fiber also has the ability to slow down the digestive process to help keep you full longer. It is also good for the gastrointestinal tract by keeping you regular and healthy. The dietary goal for fiber is 25 to 35 grams per day. The average American usually gets only 5 to 10 grams of fiber today. Therefore when choosing your favorite carb foods, such as oatmeal, whole grain or whole wheat bread, cereal or cereal type bars, makes sure they have at least 3 grams of fiber in a serving.

Grab and Go Ideas

The third complaint I usually get about breakfast is: “I don’t have time for breakfast.” So I would love to share with you, what I personally call, the breakfast five-fecta. This is 5 different grab and go foods, that you can choose 2 to 3 of them to give you a good variety of nutrients at your breakfast meal.

Remember you will only choose 2 to 3 of these options for breakfast in the morning, so you do not over eat.

  1. Hard boiled egg: Sometimes I have the yolk other times I don’t. Remember the yolk does carry antioxidants, but also carries the fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. Also, be careful if you like to salt your hard-boiled egg, one teaspoon of regular table salt already has 2300mg of sodium, which is the maximum amount recommended to have daily by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
  2. Low-fat yogurt: It can be any kind you want, with fruit, without fruit,  greek yogurt or any brand – just be sure it is not using whole milk as it’s base. This will make it full of fat, saturated fat and calories.
  3. Fruit: You can never go wrong with grabbing a piece of nature’s fast food, filled with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. Remember I recommend eating actual fruit and drinking water, rather than juice.
  4. High fiber cereal bar: When choosing one of these, you want some protein and fiber and make sure it is lower in fat and calories. One of my favorites are the Kashi bars or the light Fiber One bars.
  5. Low-fat cheese: This will add some protein and a little fat to your breakfast choice. I love the light Sargento string cheese or the Laughing Cow cheeses.

What are some of your favorite breakfast meals or recipes? In the winter, I notice I choose oatmeal or a hot breakfast, while during warm weather I’ll choose cereal or a cold breakfast option like the 2 choices from the five-fecta. If you weren’t a breakfast eater before, have I convinced you to become one? I’d love to hear from you.

Photo Credit:  {-Maria-}

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