Breakfast – the Misunderstood Meal
There have been some old sayings about eating breakfast;”eat breakfast like a king, eat lunch like a prince, and eat dinner like a pauper”. This age-old advice is based on scientific evidence research that recommends consuming the bulk of daily calories during the morning/noon hours before daily activities are performed. Unfortunately, the trend of eating meals in America is the total opposite of the above advice. Therefore breakfast is a misunderstood meal. The largest meal in American homes is the dinner meal when the least amount of activity is done. Breakfast literally means breaking the fast or starting the day with nutrition and fuel, Breakfast can look different for everyone depending on routines, daily activities, and personal tastes. The following Factors provide evidence-based facts about breakfast:
Breakfast: What is it: Breakfast is the first meal of the day and the first opportunity to provide nutrition to our body, which has been fasted overnight. Breakfast kick starts the metabolism, helping to burn calories throughout the day. It is the energy needed to get things done and helps to focus at work or school. When awakened from an overnight sleep the blood sugar and hormone levels are low. Eating breakfast within two hours of awakening helps to stabilize the blood sugar and hormone levels. This is very important for diabetics, who usually have very erratic blood sugar levels.
The Nutrients of Breakfast Related to Weight Loss: Eating the appropriate foods for breakfast can help with weight loss. A healthy breakfast requires protein foods, healthy fats, adequate carbohydrates, and fiber. These foods also provide vitamins and fiber to help control the number of calories eaten. Good sources of nutrients include:
- Carbohydrates: whole grain cereals, whole grain breads/muffins, fruits, and vegetables
- Proteins: low fat or nonfat daily products, lean meats, eggs, nuts (including nut butters), seeds and cooked dried beans.
- Fiber: Whole grain breads, waffles and cereals, bran and other grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts.
- Healthy Fats: vegetable oils, extra virgin olive oil, olive oil, avocados, grapeseed oil, avocado oil, almonds
The Top Traps of Breakfast and Weight Loss: Skipping breakfast causes overconsumption of calories throughout the day and limits weight loss efforts. Participants who skipped breakfast were so famished that they were not able to select the appropriate food for weight loss. A recent study found that women who ate breakfast were able to stick to their meal plans and lost more weight than those who skipped breakfast and “cheated” on their diets. The basic reason breakfast is skipped is because of tardiness to work. When breakfast is not eaten, a craving and bingeing cycle occurs. Usually, high-calorie and high-sugar items are selected for breakfast items. The advantage of a healthy breakfast is that it can stabilize blood sugar and hormone levels to prevent potential bingeing and overeating during the day. Eating a healthy breakfast gives the power to pass up those donuts in the break room.
Making Breakfast Happen: In order to have a healthy breakfast, it is ideal to have healthy breakfast foods and ingredients available for preparations. The following are some tips to be prepared for breakfast:
- Prepare as much as possible the night before (get dishes and utensils ready, cut up fruit, etc)
- Get everyone up 10 minutes earlier
- Let kids help and prepare breakfast
- Have grab and go alternatives (fresh fruit, individual boxes or bags of whole grain items (cereals), low sugar cereal, yogurt or smoothies, trail mix) on days when there is little or no time to eat a healthy breakfast
The importance of consuming breakfast within two hours of awakening for an overnight fast has been discussed, there are two recipes included with this article.