Why is Breakfast So Important?
How Eating Breakfast Helps You Stay Healthy & Lose Weight
Your mother, your high school health teacher, and the guys who make cereal advertisements for television have all told you countless times that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But during the morning rush – waking up, showering, walking the dog, getting the kids off to school, dressing for work – who has time to bother? If you think about it, the steamed milk in the Starbucks latte you grab every morning is pretty nutritious – it’s got calcium and stuff, doesn’t it?
Actually, this time the cereal guys are right. Breakfast really is more important than any other meal of the day, whether you are trying to lose weight, keep your focus for the big meeting, or study for an exam. How does eating breakfast have such a big impact on the way our bodies (and minds) function?
1. Breakfast is the fuel that keeps you running throughout the day.
Skipping breakfast before you start your busy day forces you to run with the fuel gauge on empty. Think about it: the last time you ate was probably no later than 8 or 9 pm the night before. This means that if you wait until noon or 1:00 pm to take a lunch break, you have gone 16 hours without filling the tanks, so to speak.
Waiting so long to eat means your blood sugar levels are at a minimum. You may feel nauseous or light-headed, and you probably have trouble concentrating. Eating breakfast ensures that you have the energy you need to keep your focus and feel energized throughout the morning.
2. Breakfast keeps the synapses firing.
Your brain and nervous system depend on constant supplies of glucose to function properly. Skipping breakfast deprives you of the nutrients you need to keep your memory, cognition, and analytical abilities functioning normally. In fact, studies have shown that people who miss breakfast score consistently lower on memory tests.
3. Breakfast prevents binge eating.
When you skip breakfast, you naturally get very hungry before lunch time. Studies have shown that this encourages overeating and poor food choices – when you are excessively hungry, you are more likely to choose foods that are unhealthy and contribute to weight gain. Eating a healthy breakfast controls your hunger and has also been shown to limit stress eating.
4. Breakfast helps you lose weight.
If you are on a diet, it may seem like skipping a meal can help you to limit your calorie intake and speed the weight loss process. But the body actually doesn’t work that way; going for long periods without eating shifts the body into a “starvation mode,” where the metabolism switches into low gear in order to conserve any calories that are available. By skipping breakfast, you slow your metabolism and inhibit your ability to use the calories that you consume, thereby leading to weight gain. By eating a sensible breakfast, you can kick-start your metabolism and improve your body’s fat-burning ability.
What are the Best Breakfast Foods for Weight Loss?
Yes, breakfast is important, and finding breakfast foods that you like can help you to lose weight and improve your physical and mental health. However, you do need to make smart choices. Filling up with donuts and coffee or loads of bacon is not the solution you need. Instead, focus on foods like the following:
Cereal: Hot or cold, whole-grain cereals are the perfect breakfast food. They are packed with nutrients and can keep you feeling full and satisfied until lunchtime. Skip the over-sugared kiddie stuff and look for unsweetened varieties; dress them up with fruits or honey, and you have a nutritional powerhouse that can keep you going all morning.
Eggs: Despite their bad rap as cholesterol-laden time bombs, eggs are actually an extraordinary food. They are packed with protein and essential vitamins, and when they are poached or boiled (rather than fried in butter), they are also heart-healthy. Eating eggs with whole-grain toast will keep you satisfied all morning long.
Yogurt: A serving of yogurt is full of calcium and other healthy nutrients. Paired with wheat toast or a whole-grain bagel, yogurt is satisfying and nutritious.
Peanut butter and toast: A tablespoon of peanut butter has lots of protein and contains only heart-healthy oils. Spread it on whole-grain toast for a tasty and healthful breakfast treat.
If you are not a big breakfast fan, you don’t have to limit yourself to traditional breakfast foods. A bowl of brown rice and chopped fish, for example, is packed with vitamins and protein and tastes great. Let your imagination be your guide, and choose healthy foods that are low in refined sugars and animal fats.
By selecting foods you enjoy, you can make breakfast something to look forward to rather than one more chore to get through in the morning.
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