How Important is Breakfast, Really?
There is a saying that goes “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a beggar.” Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This is because it is the first meal of the day; one that kick-starts the metabolism and helps burn calories all day long. When you wake up, your body has been fasting for 8 hours. The blood sugar your body needs to make the muscles and brain work best is usually low at this time. Breakfast helps replenish these nutrients.
Many studies have linked the importance of eating breakfast to better concentration, energy, and increased productivity. If the body doesn’t get the fuel from food, you may feel drained and more likely to overeat later in the day. Breakfast is so important because we need the most energy at the beginning of the day and the least at the end of the day.
A good breakfast will include protein, carbohydrates, and fat from healthy sources.
CARBOHYDRATES, PROTEINS, & FATS
All foods are composed of 3 Macro-nutrients. These are nutrients that the body needs in large quantities to provide your body with energy. Namely: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
Micro-Nutrients are different but just as important. Micro-nutrients are needed in small amounts. They include water, vitamins, and minerals
Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for the body and they can be complex or simple. Examples of complex carbohydrates are whole grain pasta, rice, and certain vegetables. They are high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Simple carbohydrates may include things like sweets. Simple carbohydrates provide quick energy but are low in vitamins and minerals.
Healthy sources of carbohydrates include brown rice, whole wheat bread or pasta, beans, oatmeal, fruits, and vegetables.
Proteins are important to the human body. They help to build and repairing body tissues. Proteins also aid in the transporting of minerals, vitamins, and oxygen throughout the body. Consuming protein provides more satiety than eating carbohydrates or fat.
Healthy sources of protein may include seafood, white meat, milk, cheese, eggs, and yogurt.
Fat may seem like an ugly word, but it is also a critical element to health. It serves many critical functions in the human body. Among these may including insulation, nerve transmission, vitamin absorption, and hormone production.
Healthy fat can actually be helpful when trying to lose weight. One benefit is that it can shut off craving centers in the brain. Healthy sources of fat are avocado, nuts, olive oil, and salmon.
When eating carbohydrates, it is important to pay attention to the Glycemic Index (GI) of food. GI is a measure of how a food influences the body’s blood sugar (glucose) after that food is consumed. Carbohydrates with a high GI are more rapidly absorbed, and more quickly release sugar in the bloodstream.
Low glycemic foods are broken down more slowly and take longer to release sugar into the bloodstream. Examples of high GI are: white bread, instant white rice, dried fruit, and graham crackers. Medium GI foods may include ice cream, pasta, and rye bread. Low GI foods are oatmeal, plain yogurt, and pumpernickel bread.
By paying attention to the GI of food when preparing a healthy breakfast, you keep your blood sugar levels under control. This helps you to avoid fatigue and weight gain.
Not everyone likes to eat breakfast, or they just don’t have the time. There are still good options for those on the go. Quick things you can grab are fruits, boiled eggs, or yogurt are all healthy — and better than nothing!
• Greek yogurt is loaded with calcium. Plus, it has nearly twice as much protein as regular yogurt. Whether choosing between low fat or Greek yogurt, choose a plain one and add fruits.
• Oatmeal is another easy option to take to work. Steel-cut and rolled oats better choices than instant. Make your oatmeal better for you by sprinkling on some cinnamon, and topping it with fruits.
• A sandwich or wrap is another good option to take to work. Choose whole grain bread and fill it with eggs, avocado, tomato, cheese, and vegetables. Spinach or green peppers are a tasty choice to add.
• Omelets are also great for breakfast. You can use leftovers in them, and it can be different every day. Change what kind of cheese, vegetables, or meat in it for a different treat each time.
• For those that like cereal, choose one with a high amount of fiber, low sugar, and little to no fat in them. Whole-grain or bran cereals are a good choice, especially topped with fruit.
• I don’t suggest breakfast bars as they are usually high in sugar and have a lot of processed ingredients.
WHAT THE RIGHT BREAKFAST DOES
We’ve established that breakfast is very important. It is essential to choose one that has the right balance of nutrients. Each nutrient plays a specific role in the body’s well being. Most research suggests that our diet should consist of about 45-65% calories from carbohydrates, 10-35% calories from protein, and 20-35% of calories from fat.
Eating breakfast helps keep the weight down and avoid heart disease (due to weight gain). Breakfast gives you the energy and mental edge for a productive day. Plus, eating a healthy breakfast may lower your risk of diabetes. Making good breakfast choices may help lower fluctuating sugar levels that can lead to diabetes. Your good health starts with a good breakfast.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Aris Akavan, ACE certified Personal Trainer & Lifestyle and Weight Management Coach, is owner of Body Fitness by Aris. Her mission is to assist others in leading a healthier lifestyle by balancing exercise and proper eating habits to achieve the ultimate body & mind wellness. Aris leads by example as she practices what she preaches. She leads an alcohol-free and smoke-free lifestyle and has worked out while following proper nutrition practices for over 10 years.
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Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice, nor is it to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult your physician before starting or changing your diet or exercise program. Any use of this information is at the sole discretion and responsibility of the user.