Breakfast Really is the Most Important Meal of the Day

29 Mar

Yes, your mom was right, you should eat your breakfast every day. Studies show that eating breakfast regularly has the following benefits:

  • a more nutritionally complete diet
  • improved concentration and performance
  • higher levels of strength and endurance
  • lower levels of cholesterol
  • easier to achieve and maintain a healthy weight

Yes, that’s right, breakfast eaters actually weigh less than their counterparts who routinely skip breakfast. The point here is that achieving and maintaining a healthy weight isn’t all about calories in and calories out. There’s a LOT more to it than that.

There are a couple reason why breakfast eaters weight less. One of the reasons has to do with you blood sugar levels. As you sleep, your body uses up the fuel it had from the food you ate that day. So, when you wake up your blood sugar levels are low. Eating breakfast would give the body the fuel it needs, but if you don’t eat breakfast your blood sugar levels with stay low. When levels stay low, the body starts sending out the stress hormone cortisol into the blood. Cortisol goes around and instead of telling your body to break down fat for fuel, it first tells your body to break down muscle. This is because muscle is easier to break down into energy than fat is. Muscle also takes more energy to maintain that fat does; since your body is going into starvation mode because you didn’t feed it breakfast, it is also trying to be smart and use muscle for energy so that you have less to maintain — that way there’s more energy for more important things, like the brain.

Another effect of skipping breakfast is that your body now doesn’t trust you when you do feed it. Once you eat lunch and your body gets that food it wants to use as little as possible as energy and store as much as it can because you taught it that there will be long periods in-between meals. So, skipping breakfast causes increased stress, the breakdown of muscle (not fat!), and increased storage of fat!

Another reason why breakfast eaters weigh less is because eating a balanced breakfast will help you feel more full and satisfied throughout the day. That way, when lunch time comes around you are able to make better decisions about what you are putting into your body because you aren’t famished and grumpy and resorting to the vending machine because you have to have something NOW.

Now, you can’t just eat doughnuts for breakfast and expect to lose weight; your meals have to be balanced. That means including carbohydrate, protein and fat in your breakfast and trying to make a good part of your meal come from vegetables! This means that a bagel doesn’t count. A bagel is a very condensed source of carbohydrates and if you want your breakfast to be balanced, that many carbs is going to throw it off. We tend to eat a lot of carbs at breakfast — but protein is especially important in the morning! Protein helps keep you feeling full, you need it to balance your blood sugars, and you need it to maintain and build muscle in your body. Remember what I mentioned earlier, about muscle taking more energy to maintain? Well if you want to lose weight, you want to keep as much muscle on your body as you can — muscle will raise your metabolism, making it easier to lose weight and keep it off. Check out this study by the Pennington Biomedical Research Center — they women who ate 2 eggs for breakfast 5 times a week compared to women who ate a bagel for breakfast 5 times a week. The egg eaters lost 65% more weight, decreased their waist circumference by 83%, felt more satisfied, ate fewer calories throughout the day and reported increased energy. What’s more is that there was no significant difference in blood cholesterol levels or triglyceride levels. This shows eating eggs regularly won’t negative impact these levels or significantly increase your risk for heart disease. Instead, they have many beneficial effects.

It may be hard at first, but there are many delicious things you can make and cooking and eating breakfast in the morning doesn’t mean you have to get up an hour early. Here are some balanced ideas:

  • a veggie omelet with a side of fruit
  • a smoothie (try to use greek yogurt or protein powder and also try to sneak some veggies in there — try adding a 1/4 cup of radicchio, spinach or kale)
  • greek yogurt topped with nuts, fruit and honey and some carrot sticks with almond butter
  • an english muffin with tomato sliced, cheese and scrambled egg on to

What’s your favorite balance breakfast?

Sources:
The Many Benefits of Breakfast, Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD, http://www.webmd.com
Eating Breakfast May Lead Teen Moms to Better Health, HealthDay

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