Start the Summer and Day Right with Breakfast

Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? Should you eat even if you’re not hungry? What should you eat?

Whether you want to eat healthier, increase your endurance level, lose weight, or increase your strength, breakfast is an essential component of reaching your goal. Not only is breakfast key, but the types of foods you eat are also important.

Why is breakfast important?
After fasting overnight for eight to 12 hours, you need to refuel your body. Your brain requires a constant supply of energy since it does not store energy like your muscles or liver do.

The stored energy in your liver, which is converted to useable energy while you’re sleeping, is nearly depleted by morning. If you do not refuel within a few hours of waking, you may feel the effects. Both your brain and body require a constant supply of energy to function properly.

What are the consequences of skipping breakfast?
Research has shown that individuals who skip breakfast often feel tired, irritable, or restless in the morning. On a positive note, breakfast eaters have better attitudes at work or school, display higher productivity and are more capable of handling tasks that rely on memory. Additionally, those who enjoy breakfast usually have more strength and endurance as well as better concentration and problem-solving ability.

Does eating breakfast increase your nutrient intake?
Yes. Skipping meals often results in missed nutrients essential for health. Breakfast eaters typically have higher total nutrient intakes than non-breakfast eaters. This is particularly true for women and children. Breakfast can supply a significant amount of vitamin C, calcium, B vitamins and fiber, among other nutrients and antioxidants.

Is there a connection between breakfast and learning?
Children and teens who eat breakfast are more likely to attend school and are better prepared to meet the challenges of learning. Breakfast provides the brain fuel for concentration, problem-solving, and muscle coordination (fine-motor skills, such as writing). Children who routinely begin the school day hungry are unable to achieve their learning potential. This pattern may diminish a child’s academic success.

Can breakfast enhance health?
Research has shown that individuals who enjoy a nutritious breakfast are more likely to achieve a healthy weight and have a reduced risk for heart disease. Data from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Growth and Health Study found that consuming breakfast is associated with a greater intake of vitamins, minerals, fiber and carbohydrates, in addition to less total fat, saturated fat, calories, and cholesterol during the day.

Additionally, individuals who enjoy breakfast also tend to engage in greater physical activity. Making time for breakfast helps you to eat the recommended servings of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains each day which are important for optimizing your health.

Does it matter what you eat for breakfast?
Yes. Eating mostly sugary foods in the morning can cause your blood sugar and energy levels to rise sharply, and then drop quickly in about an hour. This can result in hunger and the subsequent symptoms of irritability, reduced concentration and memory, fatigue, headache and stomachache. Start your day off right with a well-balanced, low-sugar breakfast consisting of whole grains, lean protein, and heart-healthy fat.

Prepare a ½ cup of uncooked old fashioned oats with ½ cup of milk on the stove. Add 1 tablespoon of walnuts or other nuts plus ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract and ground cinnamon. After it is finished cooking, pour ½ cup of milk over the oatmeal and top with blueberries or raspberries and/or banana slices.

However, you do not have to eat traditional breakfast foods in the morning. Some individuals prefer leftovers from lunch or dinner foods for breakfast. Choose foods you like and build a balanced meal consisting of at least three of the five food groups. Combining different food groups provides your body with sustained energy and helps you get in all of the nutrients your body requires.

When should you eat breakfast?
Strive to eat within one to two hours of waking. If you are not hungry, begin your day with a snack rather than a meal. Then enjoy another snack a few hours later when you are hungry again.

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