The Benefits of Breakfast05.21.12
Seemingly, we all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. When you eat a nutritive breakfast your body is well prepared, and so are your emotions. Without a doubt, breakfast prevents mid-morning slumps and irritability brought on by hunger. But the benefits don’t stop there.
Registered Dietitian and founder of Nutrition Logic, Andrea Vintro, gives us seven ways breakfast will help your body and mind.
Eating breakfast revs up your metabolism. By eating a healthy breakfast that includes complex carbohydrates (fruit, grains, low-fat dairy) you help maintain your blood sugar, providing your brain and exercising cells the glucose they need for healthy activity. During the night, your liver breaks down stored sugars and releases them into the bloodstream – by morning, the liver is empty of sugar. If we skip breakfast, our bodies will get the sugar by breaking down muscle (protein). Eat your breakfast to preserve those hard earned muscles, maintaining your metabolism.
You will get a jump start on your whole grains. Breakfast is an easy way to get in one to two servings of whole grains – a standard set forth by the 2010 US Dietary Guidelines. Common, tasty breakfast foods such as cereals and breads are excellent sources of whole grains, as long as the first ingredient says whole grain.
A homemade breakfast promotes better health. Most of us know that we have a greater chance of eating healthier when we prepare our meals at home. Out of all the meals eaten during the day, breakfast can be easiest to eat at home – we’re already there. Home-prepped meals tend to be less processed, lower in added sugars and salt, and higher in whole foods, compared to restaurant meals. Breakfast meals tend to be simpler to prepare as well – whether it’s scooping out a cup of low-fat yogurt and garnishing with granola and fruit, or getting out the pan to quickly cook up some eggs with a side of whole grain bread.
You will be more mindful of what you eat. One of the best ways to allow your appetite regulatory system to function properly is to slow down and pay attention to what you’re eating. The more we pay attention to the taste, smell and pleasure (satisfaction) food gives us, the easier it is for us to know when we’ve had enough. Breakfast is a great time to pay more attention to our bodies because it’s can be a quite time, where we sip our coffee, sit down and prepare for the day.
You will maintain weight loss. According to the National Weight Control Registry more than 75% of subjects maintaining a weight loss of more than 30 pounds for a year year, eat breakfast. Research also shows when we skip breakfast, we tend to eat more in the evening, regardless of how much we eat during the day.
Contribute to our daily fiber. Whole grains and fruit, typical foods eaten for breakfast in the America, can contribute significantly to fiber servings. Most Americans don’t get enough fiber in their diets – in fact, the average fiber intake is half of what’s recommended – 25 to 30 grams each day. Although fiber is not digested nor absorbed by the body, it’s essential for good gut health, reducing risk for cardiac disease, and some studies show decreases in incidences of some cancers with a high fiber diet.
Eat breakfast, be happy. Over the years, research generally has shown that starting a day with a solid meal improves mood as well as memory and energy levels. Coffee may keep your energy level up, but food is more potent for a memory boost. Try a bagel with peanut butter and banana slices, and remember to eat breakfast the next day.
Written by: Andrea Vintro, MS, RD, CSSD, LD
Andrea Vintro is the founder and practitioner of Nutrition Logic. Vintro is a Registered Dietitian with a passion to spread the word that good nutrition can be simple. She is currently contributing to Nutrition Energy in New York City.