Most of us wouldn’t consider going for a day trip in a car that has a near-empty gas tank. We’d fill it up first to avoid running out of gas before we got to our destination. Yet, many of us don’t think twice about skipping breakfast – the fuel our bodies need to help us function throughout the day.
Do you fall into that category? Unfortunately, the decision to forgo breakfast can cause you to prematurely “run out of steam,” often by mid-morning. As a result, you may find yourself reaching for the quickest source of energy which, more likely than not, would be high in calories and fat and low in nutrients. Consuming foods like this will ultimately drain you of more energy.
How does eating breakfast prevent this? A good breakfast prepares your body for the day ahead. It replenishes your body’s energy stores from the fast that occurred while you slept. Therefore, instead of starting your day on empty, you begin with a full “tank.”
Eating breakfast provides you with many other health benefits as well. These include:
- Increased Metabolism and Decreased Body Weight: Individuals who regularly eat a healthy breakfast tend to be thinner than those who skip it. Why? Eating breakfast stimulates the body’s production of enzymes that metabolize fat to make energy – thus, promoting weight loss. Also, if you eat breakfast, you are less likely to become overly hungry later – which is often associated with “binge” eating at lunch and dinner.
- Improved Overall Nutrition. Research shows that individuals who eat breakfast tend to consume less fat and cholesterol and more vitamins and minerals, especially if they eat whole-grain ready-to-eat cereal.
- Greater Concentration and Improved Ability to Focus. A healthy, nutrient-dense breakfast provides fuel for the brain.
- Improved Strength and Endurance. If you eat breakfast you have more energy to engage in physical activity throughout the day – thus, enhancing your fitness level.
What Constitutes a Healthy Breakfast?
- Low-fat/Lean Protein. Egg whites and/or lean slices of meat, such as Canadian bacon, are good sources of protein without the extra calories from fat.
- Whole Grains/High-fiber Foods. Oat bran, whole-grain brown rice, and whole-grain ready-to-eat cereals are all good ways to start the day.
- Fruits and Vegetables. Produce is a great choice in the morning. It provides you with fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
- Low- or Nonfat Dairy Products. Reduced-fat cottage cheese, yogurt, and milk provide calcium for strong bones.
- A bowl of whole-grain brown rice with raisins and sprinkled with cinnamon and 8 ounces of skim milk to drink.
- Scrambled egg with 2 TBS shredded low-fat cheese wrapped in a whole-wheat tortilla and 8 ounces of 100% pure orange juice.
- Home-made breakfast trail mix – 1/4 cup of raw whole oats, 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds, 1/4 cup of your favorite ready-to-eat whole grain cereal, and 1/4 cup of dried fruit such as cherries; 8 ounces of 100% grapefruit juice.
- Cottage-cheese with 2 TBS of wheat germ, one medium orange, and skim milk to drink.
The breakfast you eat in the morning does not need to be elaborate to be beneficial. You should, however, avoid foods that are low in fiber and high in fat and calories (e.g., doughnuts). Consuming a high-fiber breakfast will help you to feel full for a longer period of time. Making breakfast a part of your every day will help to lay the foundation from which you can build a healthy life.
What is your favorite healthy breakfast to eat in the morning? Do you have any tricks to eat a healthy breakfast on-the-go?