Why Is Breakfast Important?
Breakfast is often hailed as “the most important meal of the day”. While opinions on this statement may vary, breakfast is associated with some notable health benefits.
Compared to those who don’t, children who regularly consume breakfast are more likely to meet their daily nutritional needs and have a normal body weight. Some studies suggest that breakfast has also a positive, short-term effect on cognitive function in children and adolescents.
Adults who regularly eat a healthy breakfast are likely to consume more vitamins and minerals than non-eaters. Research also suggests that breakfast may help with weight control. In a study of 2959 subjects in the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), 78% reported eating breakfast every day. Only 4% reported never eating breakfast. Though the study is not conclusive, breakfast skipping seems to be uncommon among people who successfully maintain long-term weight loss. When also taking into account studies that link breakfast with general nutrition, the NWCR findings suggest that regular breakfasts may benefit people who are looking to lose weight.
On top of breakfast benefits, there may be consequences for skipping breakfast. According to research published in The Journal of Nutrition, skipping breakfast is associated with a higher risk of Type II Diabetes. This conclusion comes from a review of six separate studies, encompassing data from over 96,000 people. Dietitians believe that the increased risk has to do with the relationship between diabetes, insulin, and blood sugar.
Many of the breakfast studies lack definitive conclusions on whether or not breakfast directly improves your health. This is because of complications related to breakfast-consumption data collection. These complications include differing definitions of breakfast eaters vs non-eaters, reliance on self-reporting (which may not be entirely accurate), and other factors. Despite these complications, Harvard Health notes that the large amount of research connecting breakfast to health benefits is fairly persuasive.
What Should I Look For In Breakfast Food?
Keep in mind that breakfast-related health benefits are dependent on what you eat for breakfast. A bowl of sugary cereal will not fuel the body properly. Instead, a sugary breakfast will cause a spike in blood sugar and insulin. As the day goes on, your blood sugar may crash, causing you to crave more food and increasing your chances of overeating. This is why it’s important to choose nutritious breakfast food.
Harvard Health names three facets of a good breakfast: lean protein (eggs, yogurt, quinoa), fiber-rich carbohydrates (fruits, veggies, whole grains), and healthy fats (nuts). When it comes to grain-based foods like cereal or flavored oatmeal, which are often flavored with sugar, remember to look at the ingredients and the serving size. It is best to look for grains that have no sugar and have at least three grams of fiber per serving. If you want to spice up your good old-fashioned oats, don’t reach for the sugar. Instead, consider adding a healthy handful of nuts, berries, or seeds.
How Can I Fit Breakfast Into My Schedule?
For those of us that skip breakfast because of time restraints, there is a solution. Planning ahead can make it easier to squeeze breakfast into your busy schedule. If you know what you’re eating ahead of time, you don’t have to spend time deciding what to eat in the morning. Planning ahead also gives you the opportunity to gather the necessary cookware and ingredients in advance, so you are ready to cook first thing in the morning. This will make your breakfast preparation quick and efficient.
If you don’t have time to cook in the morning, you can cook the night before. In this scenario, breakfast is as simple as taking the food out of the fridge and, if necessary, reheating. Another option is to pack a simple meal the night before and eat it on your way to class, work, etc.
5 Easy, Healthy Breakfast Ideas
Here are some options for an easy, nutritious breakfast.
Grab And Go Breakfast When Running Late
Grab a handful of almonds and blueberries, or slice an apple and dip it in a nut butter of your choice. Plain yogurt, or a yogurt alternative of your choice, topped with sliced fruit or almonds, is another great option.
Simple Toast With a Smile
Toast a slice of whole grain bread and spread on a nut butter of your choice. Top with fruit. For kids, you can arrange so it makes a shape (i.e. a smiley face).
Avocado, Egg White, and Basil Toast
Toast your bread. Lightly spread avocado evenly on your toast. Top with egg white. I love to use my mini egg maker for a nice round cooked egg white. Next add a sliced tomato and top with a heavy, flavorful shake of basil or leaves of fresh basil.
Banana Pancake (only two ingredients)
Two eggs and a ripe banana. Mix and blend two ingredients together, then brush your griddle with olive oil or your healthful oil of choice. Pour mixture on the griddle and cook like you would a pancake. Enjoy hot off griddle :) Yum. *Important to use a ripe banana.
Easy Overnight Oatmeal in Mason Jars
Layer the jars with 1/2 cup Old fashioned oats, 1/2 cup milk of your choice (I use unsweetened almond milk), 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt or yogurt alternative, 1 TB of chia seeds, 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, 1 TB of maple syrup (can omit or use your healthful alternative of choice). Mix all ingredients together in a large mason jar or glass container. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least 4 hours. After taking the jar out of the fridge, add a little bit of milk or milk alternative to your liking. Add toppings before serving if you desire. Topping ideas include diced apples and 1/4 tsp of cinnamon, almond butter, sunflower butter, sliced bananas, strawberries, and blueberries.
Perhaps you need a quick meal before your daily commute, or you want to give the kids a healthy meal before sending them off to school. Either way, a healthy breakfast does not have to be complicated. Be intentional about what you eat, and you can experience the benefits.
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Joy Grout, the owner of Personalized Fitness For You, has more than 30 years of fitness and health experience, supported by a Bachelor of Science degree in Therapeutic recreation. She has worked with a variety of populations in clinical and community-based settings, and she possesses various certifications from national fitness organizations. Her diverse set of experiences allows her to focus on your individual needs and design a program specifically for you. Joy offers effective virtual training sessions as well as in-person training sessions in Winona Lake, Indiana. Joy meets women wherever they are in their journey or stage of life, and she helps them dig deep to find their inner strengths and skills.
Harvard Health Publishing “Breaking the fast”
Healthline “Breakfast Cereals: Healthy or Unhealthy?” and “Eating Breakfast Every Day Can Lower Your Risk for Type 2 Diabetes”
Mayo Clinic “Healthy breakfast: Quick, flexible options”
NCBI “The Effects of Breakfast and Breakfast Composition on Cognition in Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Review”
Wiley Online Library “Long-Term Weight Loss and Breakfast in Subjects in the National Weight Control Registry”