If you were guaranteed a chance to be more productive, eat less, feel more energized, and concentrate more fully, would you jump at it? Well, you can—and it’s easy. Just eat a nutritious, balanced breakfast each day!
Facts about breaking the fast
When you eat breakfast after a night’s sleep, you’re actually breaking the fast your body has been experiencing. And while sleep is relaxing for you, it’s actually hard work for your body. It’s the time when your body recovers, repairs tissue, and grows and develops.
This behind-the-scenes hard work leads to two important changes. First, your metabolism slows down. Your metabolism is like a fire in a fireplace: It needs fuel to keep it going. Fuel your body with breakfast and your metabolism—and your energy level—will pick back up. When you don’t eat breakfast, you may feel the need to overeat at your next meal to get the fire going again. Plus, your body goes into a prolonged fasting state, storing your next meal as fat so it can save it for later, just in case! Several studies have shown that people who skip breakfast have a higher body mass index (weight-to-height ratio) than those who eat breakfast.
Second, your body increases its levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Long-term increases in cortisol cause belly fat, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and a host of other issues. Having breakfast immediately lowers the level of cortisol in your blood.
Don’t skip out
It’s been shown that eating a nutritious breakfast may help you:
• Maintain a healthy weight
• Improve heart health
• Feel full longer
• Stay alert and focused
Besides the benefits directly associated with eating when you first get up, there’s also the addition of another nutrient-packed meal to your day. People who skip out on breakfast are less likely to make up for the vitamins and minerals that a simple breakfast would have provided.
So . . . what’s for breakfast?
Build your breakfast (around 400 to 500 calories) from a variety of food groups, such as whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, fruit, and high-fiber, low-fat cereals. Aim to include plenty of protein and fiber to keep you feeling satisfied longer.
When you don’t have time for a full breakfast, find a simple alternative that provides complete nutrition, such as ready-to-eat cereals or oatmeal. Or try making a smoothie using fresh or frozen fruit and Ensure products.
If you’re still not ready to whip up an omelette tomorrow morning, start with something light, such as fruit slices dipped in peanut butter. Then add other foods gradually to build your morning appetite. And there’s no need to limit yourself to “breakfast foods.” Reheating last night’s leftovers is also an easy, delicious way to get in the routine of eating at breakfast time.
• Raisin bran (1 cup), low-fat milk (1 cup), orange (1 small)
• Ensure (8-fl-oz serving), pumpkin muffin (1 small), jam (1 tbsp)
• Bagel (1 small), low-fat cream cheese (1 tbsp), fruit yogurt (3/4 cup), grapes (1/2 cup)
• Two small slices of leftover veggie pizza