Breakfast – Why is it the Most Important Meal of the Day?
by Natalie Butler, RD, LD
I’m sure you’ve heard it by now. News outlets, the media, newsletters and magazines constantly report that famous line… “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” I have many, many clients that can tell me it’s the most important meal of the day but few who can tell me why. Understanding the WHY can help motivate you to actually eat breakfast, which is of course, the goal. Research shows:
1. Breakfast eaters weigh less
2. Breakfast eaters have fewer heart attacks
3. Breakfast eaters have lower cholesterol
4. Breakfast eaters have lower blood pressure
5. Breakfast eaters have less belly fat
6. Breakfast eaters have a lower risk of diabetes, stroke and cancer
7. Breakfast eaters have less mental health diagnoses
8. Breakfast eaters eat less throughout the rest of the day
9. Breakfast eaters perform better at work and school
10.Breakfast eaters eat a healthier diet overall
WOW! If you haven’t been a breakfast eater before, I bet you want to be one now!
And good news for you if you don’t wake up hungry…breakfast is still considered breakfast (and still has the associated health benefits) if you eat it within 2 hours of waking up. Hooray!
With all this said, I’m not advocating you can eat just any breakfast. Calories and the quality of your breakfast still matter. So no, eating a fast food meal or a giant stack of pancakes with bacon is not going to gain you health benefits.
If you do find yourself struggling with eating a healthy breakfast, try these tips below:
1. Eat something BEFORE you have coffee. A cup of coffee loaded with sugar and creamer often has a temporary appetite reducing effect, making breakfast eating even less appetizing.
2. A small breakfast is better than a large breakfast.
3. Choose a high fiber option, providing about 7-10 grams of fiber. This will fill you up and keep mid-morning snacking at bay.
4. Combine protein and complex carbs for sustained energy.
5. Limit simple carbohydrates (sugar) and fat in breakfast foods like baked goods, pastries and processed cereals.
6. When weight loss is your goal, aim for a daily breakfast that provides around 200-400 calories.
Smoothies are fast, filling and VERY healthy.
Some quick healthy breakfast options to try are:
- Vitality blend smoothie with almond milk;
- nonfat greek yogurt with fruit; an apple with a 1 oz. (ping pong ball size) serving of almonds
- a boiled egg and a mini high fiber muffin or pancake and 1/2 serving of fruit; egg white veggie omelette with salsa and black beans
- 1/2 a whole wheat english muffin with light cream cheese, spinach and smoked salmon; oatmeal with chia and blueberries; mango greens smoothie
- 1 slice sprouted grain toast with almond butter and 1/2 banana (sliced onto toast) and 8 oz. unsweetened soymilk.
For a quick “grab-n-go” omelet for breakfast, try this easy recipe:
- 6 eggs
- 2 Tbsp low fat milk
- 1 bell pepper, diced (or sub 1/2 cup diced veggie)
- 1/2 sweet yellow or red onion, diced
- 1/2 cup fresh spinach, swiss chard or dark leafy greens, chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Preheat oven to 400ºF.
- Spray non-stick cooking spray into a muffin tin.
- Chop all vegetables.
- Place 1 tbsp olive oil into skillet and let heat.
- Saute all vegetables for 3-5 minutes.
- Whisk together eggs and milk in a small bowl.
- Pour the vegetables into the whisked eggs.
- Pour egg/vegetable mixture into sprayed muffin tins.
- Place in oven and bake for 20-30 minutes or until cooked through and liquid is cooked off the eggs.
- To Store: Let cool completely. Wrap individual eggs in plastic wrap and store in refrigerator for up to 5 days or put in freezer bags and place in freezer for longer storage.
- To reheat from refrigerator, unwrap plastic wrap and microwave for 30 seconds. To reheat from freezer, unwrap plastic wrap and microwave for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes.