We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day - but is that true? Conflicting studies suggest that some researchers confirm the popular claim, and some refute it. Either way, each day, most people eventually “break” their overnight “fast.”
Intermittent fasting diets are common, and some people simply can’t handle chowing down early in the morning. However, one fact is clear: regardless of the time you consume it, the vital nutrients from your first meal fuel your body and energize you as you carry on with your day.
If you need more convincing, here are some reasons why eating breakfast really is an important part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Helps Maintain Sugar Levels
Appetite varies for every person – especially as you age. Some people might skip breakfast because they’re not hungry. Or, they may think the missed calories will help them lose weight.
However, an Oxford study found that skipping breakfast carries an increased risk for type 2 diabetes. Cleveland Clinic wellness expert Michael Roizen, M.D., discussed the results, noting, “What they found, was that the more people skipped breakfast – the more days a week – the higher the risk for type 2 diabetes.”
According to Roizen, your body is the most insulin-sensitive in the morning. To keep your sugar more balanced, he suggests eating carbs in the morning and treating breakfast like dinner. Consuming more food and calories earlier and cutting back later in the day helps prevent sugar spikes.
You may not immediately link eating breakfast to boosting brain health. But the Mayo Clinic reports that doing so “improves your ability to concentrate at work or school and enhances your performance.” So, listen to your stomach if it's growling before you rush out the door – your mood and focus will improve if you cure the hunger pangs with some food.
Revs Your “Engine”
When taking a road trip, you can’t get anywhere on an empty tank. So, it makes sense to “gas up” your car before hitting the road. Similarly, eating breakfast fuels your internal engine and prepares you for another day as it unfolds. Grab something to eat – even it’s a protein shake – to rev your internal engine and start your day.
Curbs the Impulse to Overeat Later
Many warn against going to the grocery store hungry because it may prompt you to pile all kinds of things you don’t really need in your cart. The same holds true for skipping breakfast – chances are you’ll binge eat or make poor food choices when you finally have something. Eating a sensible, nutritious breakfast will curb these unhealthy impulses.
Starts the Day a Healthy Way
Though arguments for both sides still exist, overall, eating breakfast is an integral part of starting the day a healthy way. If you don’t typically like traditional breakfast foods, or you prefer to wait until lunchtime before eating, get creative to make a nutritious morning meal part of your new routine.
So, What’s for Breakfast?
A balanced breakfast should include a mix of complex carbohydrates, lean protein, whole grains, fiber, and fruits and veggies. Plan ahead, avoid sugary pastries, and opt for quick, healthy items for your first meal. A few examples include:
- Add fresh blueberries or strawberries to oatmeal or a plain waffle.
- Spread some peanut butter or avocado on whole-wheat toast or an English muffin.
- Add cheese and veggies to scrambled eggs.
- Make a tasty breakfast smoothie with kale or spinach or your favorite fruits like strawberries and bananas.
You can also avoid breakfast burnout by changing up what you eat each morning. Consider eating a leftover dinner plate for breakfast. Try heating up that chicken, or enjoy a cup of cottage cheese topped with peaches.
Overall, don’t stress out about making a big “shift” in your daily dining routine. Instead, find healthy, easy breakfast options that don’t make the meal a big chore. Finally, always discuss any nutritional needs or dietary limitations with your doctor before embarking on a new dietary journey.