Your mother was right when she said that breakfast was the most important meal of the day. Some of the (many) reasons why, however, may surprise you.
1. Eating Breakfast Helps You Lose Weight
If you skip breakfast, you’re saving calories, therefore losing weight, right? WRONG. Contrary to popular belief (and maybe counterintuitively) eating breakfast actually helps you lose weight.
If you eat dinner at 7, go to bed at 10:30 p.m. and skip breakfast, by the time you’re eating lunch at 1 p.m., your body hasn’t fueled up in 18 hours! When you go that long without eating, our body goes in to preservation mode, meaning that it conserves energy. Conserving energy means that your metabolism is slowing down. So not only are you not burning calories and fat as efficiently, you’re also going to be plagued with low energy all day.
Eating breakfast revs our metabolic engines so that they’re ready for prime calorie burn all day. In addition, studies show that people who skip breakfast actually end up eating more throughout the day – to the tune of about 100 calories, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
2. People Who Eat Breakfast Are Less Likely to Be Obese
In recent years, obesity has surpassed smoking as the number one leading cause of preventable death in the United States. So why not make our first big decision of the day to ward off obesity by eating breakfast?
Not only do breakfast-eaters consume fewer calories, but in a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, researchers found that people who ate a breakfast containing more than one-quarter of their daily calories ate better than those who skipped their morning meal. As further support, and to really hammer the point home, a study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that people who skip breakfast are four-and-a-half times more likely to be obese than those who eat breakfast.
3. Breakfast Eaters are Healthier Eaters All Day
In a 2011 study published in in Nutrition Research and Practice, researchers found that people who eat breakfast consume less fat and more nutrients (like vitamins, minerals and fiber) than their breakfast-skipping counterparts. Not only that, they found that compared to breakfast-eaters, breakfast-skippers tend to weigh more and have other unhealthy habits, such over-indulging on sugary drinks or bad-for-you snacks.
And there’s no small difference between the two groups. Studies show that breakfast-skippers consume a whopping 40% more sweets, 55% more sugary drinks (like soda), 45% fewer vegetables and 30% less fruit those who regularly eat breakfast.
4. It Improves Brain Power (Especially in Kids)
We all know that proper nutrition affects our kids’ physical development. But can it really boost their brain power, too? All signs point to YES.
A recent study out this year from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing found that children who eat breakfast regularly had significantly higher full scale, verbal and performance IQ test scores. While compelling, these results are not surprising to the scientific community because quality nutrition in early childhood has been continually linked to increased intelligence and even decreased behavioral disorders through to later childhood, and even greater happiness and success as adults. As an added bonus, eating a healthy breakfast has been shown to boost memory and attention skills in children and adults.
5. Decreases The Likelihood of Developing Diabetes
This may come as little surprise, but eating breakfast also decreases your chances of developing Type 2 diabetes. By how much, however, shocked even me.
A recent study was performed at the Harvard School of Public Health on the relationship between eating patterns and the incidence of type 2 diabetes. In 1992, researchers gathered 29,206 men who were initially free of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Sixteen years later, they re-tested the men. They discovered that men who slipped breakfast had a stunning 21% higher risk of developing diabetes than the men who ate breakfast. You may think, yeah but over 16 years, they probably gained a bunch of weight, but even when the results were adjusted for change in BMI, subjects still had increased risk if they skipped breakfast.
Get Inspired … and Get on the Breakfast Train
Obviously there is no shortage of inspiration here to get on the breakfast train, but please consider that all breakfasts are not created equal.
A healthy breakfast (and this goes for all ages) should consist of a low-fat protein and a high-fiber carbohydrate, with as little sugar as possible (so sorry, everyone, Pop-Tarts don’t count).
Protein-rich breakfasts help us develop healthy muscle and tissue, but recent studies have shown even more benefits: Protein in your morning meal improves appetite control by reducing cravings and preventing overeating later in the day.
Fiber-rich breakfasts help us stay full and promote a healthy metabolism, but could also help you feel less tired throughout the day, according to a 1999 study. The combination of the two (protein and fiber) have more energy throughout the day compared with people who eat a high-fat breakfast (think fried eggs and bacon).
Here are some healthful examples of breakfasts that are rich in both protein and fiber:
My clients’ new breakfast addiction are my smoothies (featured in my new book The Body Reset Diet).
Here’s a recipe I love for my Apple Pie Smoothie:
¾ cup greek yogurt
½ cup skim milk (protein sources)
1 red apple, cored and chopped
1 small banana, frozen and cut into chunks
5 raw almonds (fiber sources)
½ tsp. ground cinnamon, or to taste.
Blend until desired consistency and enjoy!
2. Omelette and Scrambles
Mix egg whites (add a yolk if you like) with broccoli and a little bit of sliced turkey or lean ham.
Combine scrambled egg whites, black beans, salsa, and Haas avocado, and wrap them in a warm whole wheat tortilla.
4. French Toast
Here’s my recipe to my favorite french toast – a healthful spin on the classic breakfast dish.
5. Homemade Muesli
In a small bowl, mix: ½ cup old fashioned oats
½ cup nonfat plain yogurt
½ cup skim milk
1 tbsp agave nectar
1 tsp lemon juice
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
Cover and refrigerate overnight (or at least an hour). When ready to serve, stir in another ½ cup of milk and serve with some fresh, seasonal berries.
Try some puffed kamut, millet or Kashi Go Lean Cereal with some berries, slivered almonds, and milk (almond or skim).
7. Blueberry Oatmeal Pancakes
Mix a batter of: 1 package of instant oatmeal
3 egg whites, beaten
Preheat a skillet, spray with non-stick spray, and pour your batter. You may need to shape it with a spatula to keep it flat and round.