We always hear that breakfast is the most important meal of the day — but why is this true? In a way, breakfast is “breaking the fast” because after sleeping for eight hours and being without food during the night, our brain and muscles need energy and fuel to function.
Now obviously, food is fuel and energy for our bodies and without it we spend the day stumbling around in a fog and fighting off a headache and a bad attitude. Breakfast is literally just that, breaking the fast that your body is in from the night before.
Except for weekends, breakfast is often the meal that either gets ignored or rushed through — does grabbing a banana as you head out the door sound familiar? With such busy schedules nowadays, breakfast often becomes an afterthought, when it really should be a top priority in morning routine.
Skipping breakfast is a common strategy for people who are trying to lose weight, but it’s usually not a successful one. Your body (or maybe your brain) expects to be refueled a few times each day, so when you skip meals you may feel so hungry that when lunch time comes, you over-eat or maybe you choose foods that are not the healthiest choices.
The consumption of an early morning snack increases the metabolic rate (how fast you burn calories) and kick starts your body into gear, telling it what to expect the rest of the day. If breakfast isn’t had, your body doesn’t process your next meal as quickly and tries to hold onto those nutrients. Since it didn’t get any morning fuel, it tries to hold onto the afternoon meal as long as possible — instead of burning it right away.
Breakfast should include protein and plenty of fiber; the combination will help satisfy your hunger and will keep you feeling full until lunch time. The protein can come from low-fat meat, eggs, nuts or dairy products. High-fiber foods include fruits, vegetables and whole grains. A healthy breakfast doesn’t need to be extravagant or take a long time to prepare. Try something simple like a hard boiled egg, whole grain toast and 100% fruit juice. And there’s nothing wrong with a bowl of whole-grain cereal with berries and low-fat milk.
Here are some tips to help you get the most out of breakfast time.
- Sit down and eat breakfast – Try to take at least half an hour each morning to sit down and eat. This way you can step back, savor your meal, and focus on your upcoming day.
- Eat breakfast early – Aim to enjoy breakfast shortly after you wake up. If you’re not into eating early, have your first meal within an hour of waking up. If you’re working out first thing, make sure to eat something small like a piece of toast with almond butter or a hard-boiled egg. Then eat something a little more substantial after your workout.
- Eat breakfast consisting of healthy carbs, proteins and fiber.
So next time you stop in at your local coffee house for breakfast, know it won’t hold you over till the lunch break and even if you think it does, it isn’t helping your body gain the energy needed, or burn the calories it should!