Is breakfast the most important meal of the day?
For many years, nutritionists have sworn that eating a healthy breakfast is critical for overall health and wellbeing. However, many people don’t take the time to eat a healthy breakfast. Between getting ready for work or school, parents and children alike simply dismiss breakfast or take one bite of toast and drink a cup of coffee to fuel their day.
According to one study, about 25% of Americans completely skip breakfast every day. Eating a healthy breakfast starts with children, so parents must instill a habit of eating breakfast every day from a young age. As kids get older, that habit begins to fade, especially since they have to wake up earlier for school and may not give themselves enough time to eat.
Still, the whole family needs to eat breakfast. Re-instilling that good habit can provide multiple health benefits for people of all ages.
Below are some of the benefits of breakfast for the whole family to reap.
Fills the Empty Tank
People often skip breakfast to save time in the morning or just because they aren’t hungry yet. However, this usually backfires because it leaves the stomach empty. Going until lunch or even dinner time without eating anything in those first few hours of the morning can leave someone feeling tired and hungrier than ever.
The last meal someone has had before waking up is dinner from the night before. Often, this leaves ten or more hours between meals. Breakfast helps to replenish the nutrients in the morning, breaking the “fast.”
Boosts Energy in the Morning
Another benefit of eating breakfast is that it gives an energy boost in the morning. The human body gains energy through glucose, which breaks down with carbohydrates. Then, the body will store that as fat or as glycogen, which is in the liver. When a person goes hours without eating, like overnight, the liver breaks down glycogen and releases it as glucose in the bloodstream, which helps control brain and body functioning.
The body uses all of that stored energy to keep it functioning, meaning that energy levels are low in the morning. Eating breakfast restores that energy and prevents the body from breaking down energy from fat, making someone feel even more fatigued. This also keeps the metabolism up throughout the day.
People who eat breakfast regularly are less likely to be overweight or obese. This goes for both children and adults. Overweight and obesity have taken a toll on Americans, as over 40% of American adults are considered obese. Many factors go into obesity, and not eating breakfast is one potential cause.
Starting the day with a healthy meal prevents fluctuations in blood glucose levels. This can help control the appetite and allows people to make better food choices overall throughout the day. Breakfast fills up the stomach before someone becomes extremely hungry, meaning they’re less likely to eat whatever unhealthy food is available when hunger strikes.
Increases Focus and Brain Power
Skipping the first meal of the day may lead to feeling sluggish and unfocused. Again, eating breakfast provides an energy boost that helps carry someone through the day. This is especially important for children as they develop and have to soak in information at school.
When a child eats breakfast, they can focus better on their schoolwork and even do better in school because it improves concentration, memory, problem-solving skills, school attendance, grades and mood. The same is true for adults — breakfast can help them perform better at work and be more productive.
Reduces the Risk of Illness
Finally, one of the greatest benefits of breakfast is that it reduces the risk of illness. As previously mentioned, eating a healthy meal in the morning reduces the risk for obesity, putting people at a lower risk for diabetes.
Also, eating breakfast leads to a healthier heart, strong bones, better digestion and improved metabolism. It provides all of the nutrients that the human body needs to function correctly, and it keeps the body healthy.
Foods to Include in a Good Breakfast
Sugary cereals and a cup of coffee don’t constitute a good breakfast, even if they taste delicious. Below are some of the breakfast essentials that one should include in the first meal of the day:
- Lean protein: A lean protein, like eggs, peanut butter or other lean meat, can help guard against hunger.
- Dairy: Dairy included in breakfast should be low-fat, like milk, yogurt or cottage cheese.
- Fruits or vegetables: A healthy diet requires someone to eat a certain number of servings of fruits and vegetables daily, so why not incorporate them into breakfast?
- Whole grains: Low-sugar cereals, oatmeal and whole-wheat bread provide whole grains, which are much better than processed grains.
Include at least two or three of these essential breakfast foods into every breakfast for a full stomach and an energy boost. Breakfast doesn’t have to be complicated, and there’s something that everyone can enjoy to start their day off right.
The Most Important Meal of the Day
Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Getting a breakfast habit started may take some time. Getting up 15 minutes earlier, preparing something quick the night before and starting small are great ways to incorporate breakfast into a morning routine.