Benefits of Breakfast
“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”
You’ve heard it a thousand times before, but is there any truth to the matter? The short answer is yes. While it may not be the “most” important, there are quite a few benefits to opening the day with a healthy, delicious meal. Read on to learn more about the benefits of breakfast.
Unless we indulge in a midnight snack, many of us make it through the night without eating, and by the time we wake up in the morning, it’s likely been 8-12 hours since we last ate. That’s where breakfast comes in.
A period without eating is known as “fasting,” and our first meal of the day breaks that streak – hence the name breakfast. This is an important step in generating energy: as we slept through the night, our body pulled from its stored energy to power our organs and bodily functions.
The morning meal sets the tone of the day for both kids and adults. Experts have found that eating breakfast can boost memory, alertness, concentration, problem-solving skills and emotion regulation.
People who eat breakfast have more nutrients in their diets – such as fiber, calcium, vitamins A and C, riboflavin, zinc and iron. This is thanks to the nutrient-rich foods that are common choices for breakfast, including whole-grain cereals, milk, yogurt, fruit and fruit juice.
While skipping a meal might seem like a good way to lose weight, research has found a link between healthier body weights and certain breakfast foods. Skipping breakfast can lead to obesity and weight gain.
There are benefits for your entire body that stem from eating breakfast.
- Heart health – eating breakfast can lead to a diet with less fat and more fiber, which can contribute to lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure
- Digestive health – high fiber breakfast foods can lead to increased regularity and probiotic-rich foods with friendly bacteria can contribute to overall gut health
- Bone health – a popular breakfast choice – milk and cereal – contains calcium, protein and vitamin D, which help to build strong bones
- Metabolic health – eating certain breakfast foods, like whole-grain cereal, dairy products, breads and fruit, can help regulate insulin levels and reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome, in addition to contributing to maintaining a healthy weight
Mornings can be hectic, and it’s easy to skip breakfast for the sake of time. But a little bit of pre-planning can help to make building this meal into your routine a little smoother.
- Plan ahead – get the family involved in making healthy breakfast choices and share the plan in a common place everyone can access
- Shop right – make sure that your kitchen is stocked with breakfast staples that fit your plan
- Set the stage – prep non-perishable food and supplies the night before to set yourself up for success the next morning
- Pack it up – if you eat breakfast away from home, pack it the night before and store it in the fridge to cut down on time in the morning
Healthy Breakfast Choices
Don’t know where to start with choosing a breakfast that will hold you over until lunch? Here are some healthy options to get you started:
- Greek yogurt or cottage cheese: mix in fruits, nuts or granola to these high-protein options
- Peanut butter and a whole-grain: this combo offers high-fiber, healthy fat and protein
- Oatmeal: with a wealth mix-in possibilities, oatmeal is a heart healthy option that doesn’t have to be boring
- Omelet: not only are eggs a great source of protein, but adding veggies can flavor and extra nutrients
- Shake or smoothie: not only are shakes and smoothies great for breakfast on the go, but this versatile option can incorporate dairy, fruits, veggies, peanut butter and any number of nutrient-rich ingredients
Looking for a healthy option that doesn’t require much prep time? Here are six 1-minute breakfast ideas:
- Ready-to-eat cereal topped with sliced banana and low-fat yogurt
- Bran muffin and low-fat yogurt topped with berries
- Peanut butter on whole grain toast and skim or low-fat milk
- Instant oatmeal topped with raisins, berries or your choice of fruit
- Toasted whole grain waffle topped with low-fat yogurt and fruit
- Bagel with low-fat cream cheese and fruit