The Importance of Eating Breakfast

Are you one of those people who constantly presses the snooze button only to jump out of bed at the last minute and run out of the house without having eaten breakfast?  Or, maybe you are one of those people who simply says, "I'm not hungry in the morning," or "I don't like eating breakfast."  If that sounds like you, read on... because you could be hindering your weightloss progress, not to mention other negative side effects.

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What are some of the benefits of eating breakfast?
 

According to WebMd.com, the following are true benefits of eating a healthy breakfast:

  • A more nutritionally complete diet, higher in nutrients, vitamins and
    minerals
  • Improved concentration and performance in the classroom or the
    boardroom
  • More strength and endurance to engage in physical activity
  • Lower cholesterol levels

Mind you, this is for eating a HEALTHY breakfast... this does not include what I used to do in high school (run out the door and eat two Hostess cupcakes while driving myself to school).

"Why would eating breakfast help me lose weight?  Can't I just skip breakfast and save those calories for a later meal?" Do you want to know how Sumo Wrestlers train?  Well, I guess, first I should ask you this... do you want to look like a Sumo Wrestler??? 
If the answer is "NO" then you may want to consider eating breakfast
(not to mention those other small/frequent meals you hear about so
often, but I'll touch on those more in a later blog).  When Sumo Wrestlers are in training they will get up, train
for three to five hours on an empty stomach, and then eat a large meal.  In
fact, Sumo Wrestlers only eat two large meals per day.  Does that sound
like you?  Why would eating only two large meals a day cause weight
gain?

Starvation Mode...

I'm sure you've heard that term before, but what exactly does it mean?
 
Starvation mode is a state in which the body is responding to
prolonged periods of low caloric intake levels. During short periods of
caloric abstinence, the human body will burn primarily free fatty acids
from body fat stores. After prolonged periods of starvation the body
has depleted its body fat and becomes begins to burn lean tissue and
muscle as a fuel source.
(source: Wikipedia.com)

Granted, the above definition is from Wikipedia, which isn't always the
best fact check website out there... but you will find LOTS of info on
this subject online, in books, in blogs... you name it!  It's one of
those topics where the jury is still out, but I've read more articles
about the fact that starvation mode really does exist, rather than the
few articles I've read saying that it's bollocks.

Whether it will greatly slow your metabolism or not, not eating for
hours will hinder your health.  Many of us have forgotten this fact,
but food is how we fuel our bodies (the same as how we need to put gas
into a car to make it run).  If you are a breakfast skipper, and then
you find yourself having energy crashes, only to be totally famished by
lunch time... well, duh (to sound technical)!  Not giving the body the
fuel it needs to function properly can lead to sleepiness, dizziness,
less concentration and coordiation, and an overall less-than-functional
body.  This is especially important for diabetics who need to keep
their blood sugar levels balanced... do not starve yourself!

So, how can I start eating a proper breakfast?

Well, first of all... a doughnut is not breakfast.  Sure, they taste
good (believe me, I love me some Munckins, but I don't consider them a
meal and rarely ever have any at all), but they will not help your body or
your brain function at their top quality (nor will they regulate blood
sugar and help with weight maintenance or weight loss).  Other
not-so-great breakfast culprits include: muffins, scones, sweet breads,
white-bread base bagels, high-fat cream cheeses, croissants, sugar
cereals, buttermilk pancakes w/syrup, sugary waffles w/syrup, toaster
pastries, etc.
I'm sure you can fill in more blanks of your own there.  In a nutshell, if it's high in white sugars, it's NOT a good breakfast.

Likewise, what a lot of people see as a "complete" breakfast can be a
calorie disaster!  For example, the IHop Breakfast Sampler clocks in at
757 calories, 47 grams of fat, 635 mg of cholesterol,  and 2422 mg of
sodium (source TheDailyPlate.com).  Contrary to popular belief, a
breakfast does not need to include eggs, cheese, bacon, sausage,
pancakes, juice, milk etc etc etc.

What IS a good breakfast option?

There are lots of GREAT items out there to eat for breakfast.  Items
that you can easily start incorporating into your diet.  Here are some
of my favorites (i.e. in general, I try to keep my breakfasts between
350-500 calories, and it's best to include protein in there to help
keep the body full).

  • Egg White omelet (or, as I like to do... 1 whole egg and 2 egg whites plus add veggies and/or lean protein)
  • 1 cup of cooked oatmeal topped with 1/2 cup of berries (1 cup cooked = 1/2 cup dry)
  • 1 cup of high fiber cereal (read your labels, look for high fiber and low sugar contents) topped with 3/4 cup of low fat/non-fat milk (if you have calories to spare, add a 1/2 cup of berries
  • 1 cup of fat free yogurt topped with 1/2 cup of fruit
  • 8 oz. protein smoothie (made with protein powder, low fat/non-fat milk, fruit)
  • 1/2 cup of low fat cottage cheese topped with 1/2 cup of fruit
  • Home made light breakfast sandwich (1 whole wheat english muffin
    topped w/2 egg whites, scrambled, and 1 slice of low fat cheese)
  • 2 whole wheat gluten free flax waffles topped with 1/2 cup of berries and 1/4 cup of sugar free syrup
  • 1 hard boiled egg with 1 cup of fresh fruit

Of course, the options are endless.  The main key here is to find
healthy foods that you enjoy and will want to eat within an hour of
waking up in the morning.  Remember, a diet is how we choose to eat...
it's not a fad, it's not punishment.  It's something that should be
enjoyed.  When you eat properly you will have more energy, be more focused, more productive, and you will just feel better and happier all around.  I, personally, enjoy breakfast every day, and I hope that you
will start doing so too!

Comments

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  • Great post. I have learned that if I don't start my day off with a healthy breakfast not only do my food choices suffer the rest of the day but my body suffers too.

  • Thanks for writing this article Mel! I'm gonna forward it to my daughter and her mother. They've both been on a regular workout routine for over a year now. They seem to have gotten that down, but they haven't gotten the fact that nutrition plays an important part of reaching their goals. Know when to eat is just as important as when to eat.

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