Fuel Your Day With a Healthy Breakfast
Breakfast has long been touted as the most important meal of the day. Yet there are many skeptics, and the majority of Americans typically skip this meal. So, what makes it so important?
The nature of the word "breakfast" means "breaking the fast". A working definition of breakfast for research has been proposed as "the first meal of the day, even before or at the start of daily activities (e.g. errands, travel, work), within 2 hours of waking and typically no later than 10:00am in the morning." During an overnight fast and typically eight hours after your last meal, the body enters the "fasting" state. During this time, the body will use carbohydrate (glucose) stores called "glycogen" for energy and deplete glycogen stores found in the liver. Glucose that comes from these glycogen stores are the preferred fuel source for the brain and for muscles. Replenishing these glucose stores with the right balance of foods for breakfast can help jump start your brain and body for the day ahead!
Eating breakfast may prevent blood sugar fluctuations, boost metabolism (i.e., your body's engine), and provides a source of calories to maintain energy levels throughout the day. These benefits may improve appetite control, weight, and performance. People who skip breakfast are more likely to eat unhealthy snacks later in the day and to be overweight. Research has shown that individuals who eat breakfast are more likely to have a lower body mass index and are more likely to lose and maintain weight loss. Research suggests that regular consumption of breakfast, and especially a whole-foods, fiber-rich, nutrient-rich breakfast may be protective against obesity and chronic diseases. Studies have also found that eating breakfast improves memory, cognitive ability, attention span, mood, energy and fatigue.
Many people skip this meal because they are rushing out the door or do not make the time to eat. Finding quick, easy-to-prepare, grab-and-go breakfasts can help make eating breakfast part of a healthy routine!
Try these tips to not skip this important meal!
Keep quick grab-and-go nutritious options like fruit, low-fat yogurt, overnight oats, whole-grain waffles, whole grain bread products on hand for rushed mornings.
Get up 15-30 minutes earlier to prioritize preparing a quick breakfast and/or to enjoy a delicious breakfast you have prepped the night before.
Plan breakfasts for the week ahead using one or a mix of meal planning tools such as recipe websites, meal planning phone apps, social media pages, a notebook, a whiteboard, a spreadsheet, and/or a chalkboard. Find the tool that works best for you and your family!
Prep meals and/or ingredients the night or weekend before to store in the fridge/freezer as applicable. Chopped fruit, hard-boiled eggs, overnight oats, whole grain muffins, mini egg quiches, pancakes, low-fat smoothies, yogurt parfaits make great prep-ahead meals!
Ease into the habit of eating breakfast slowly by starting small and light. Try a liquid breakfast with a smoothie or smoothie bowl by blending low-fat milk, dairy alternate, or low-fat yogurt mixed with fruit and granola for a balanced meal!
Balance your breakfast meal
Fuel your day with a balanced breakfast meal incorporating a variety of nutrient-rich food groups! Incorporate a source of carbohydrate (dairy, fruits, veggies, grains) with a source of lean protein. Limit foods high in added-sugars, saturated-fat, and sodium to get more out of breakfast. Have whole fruit rather than juice to decrease sugar intake. Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products in place of higher-fat alternates. Get creative with more veggies for breakfast!
One great way to plan your breakfast meal is by following the activity below using the MyPlate food guide. This can make it easier to plan and prep varied, healthy meals. Enjoy planning your own breakfast combinations and incorporating family members in the process!
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