The Importance of Breakfast
Most of us can remember our mothers telling us breakfast is the most important meal of day. And Mom was right; it's not a meal we want to skip. It literally "breaks the fast" and kick-starts our metabolism, helping burn calories throughout the day.
Breakfast also provides energy to get things done and focus. Studies have linked eating breakfast to good health, better memory, lower levels of low-density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol) and lower risk for diabetes, heart disease and being overweight.
Skipping that morning meal can throw off your body's rhythm of fasting and eating. (Hence, intermittent fasting may not be such a good idea after all.) When we get up in the morning, our blood sugar tends to be low; eating breakfast brings it up to normal levels.
However, just over half of Americans eat breakfast daily, even though 8 in 10 Americans agree it's the most important meal of the day, according to a survey by Quaker Oats.
Can breakfast really help you lose weight? Some studies say yes. Researchers have found that on average, people who eat breakfast are thinner that those who don't, perhaps because eating protein and fiber in the morning keeps the appetite in check. Studies show that most people who lose weight and keep the weight off eat breakfast every day.
We know that breakfast helps kids do better in school, and schools have responded by providing breakfast to students. Students who don't eat breakfast have a harder time focusing, are more tired and don't do as well on schoolwork. If you have a child who doesn't like eating in the morning at home, pack something for the ride to school or in between classes. In our home, the solution was a smoothie that my daughter could drink on the ride to school.
So how can you make breakfast a daily habit? Think outside the box for your morning meal. The Quaker survey found that nearly half of consumers prefer savory flavors for breakfast. So ditch the not-so-healthy doughnut for a vegetable frittata or an egg omelet in a cup that can be popped in the microwave. You can also add a sliced hard-boiled egg to avocado toast or spread a bagel with peanut or almond butter.
Try for a mix of foods that have carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats and fiber: Greek yogurt with granola and berries, smoothies or a make-ahead option of overnight oats, whole grain cereal with low-fat milk or a whole-grain protein bar.
Q and A
Q: How many fruits and vegetables should you eat daily?