The Most Important Meal of the Day
We’ve all heard it before – breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Personally, I’ve always been a breakfast eater (never a fan of your “typical” breakfast foods, though). I’ve always woken up ready to eat, but would prefer to have last night’s leftovers instead of cereal or toast.
I’ve lost track of how many people tell me they skip breakfast because they can’t force themselves to eat in the morning / aren’t hungry / don’t have time / are trying to lose weight. Well, it’s time to drop all these notions and start your day off a healthier way – by eating.
I might not say breakfast is THE most important meal of the day, as I think all meals are equally important, but it does serve a vital purpose for your body composition. After fasting (not eating) all night, your body has likely worked through the nutrients you gave it before bed. So, you’re running on empty at this point. There are two ways to kick start your metabolism – by eating or by being active.
By providing your body a steady flow of nutrients, it’ll trust that you will continue to feed it what it needs to survive. When this happens, it’ll run efficiently and use food for energy versus storing it as fat. When you go long periods of time without eating, your body goes into “survival mode” and holds onto everything it can – it’s a basic nature response.
For this reason, I’m never hesitant to eat right before bed, and then within an hour of waking up. None of this “eating past 8pm will make you fat” business. Just eat the right foods at the right time and your body will handle it.
Breakfast of champions
Now that you’ve been reformed into a breakfast advocate, what should you eat? Just like with all nutrition – it depends on your goals, your body, and your daily plans. However, it’s safe to say that most people don’t need / can’t handle your stereotypical (although amazing) breakfast of pancakes, toast, hash browns, eggs, and bacon.
There are plenty of healthy breakfast options that can be pulled together quickly:
- plain oatmeal with cinnamon
- turkey bacon
- Greek yogurt with berries
- Egg whites scrambled with vegetables
- hard boiled eggs
- protein pancakes
Many of these things can be made the night before, or in bulk, and stored in the fridge for the week – easily starting your morning off in a healthy way. Be sure to mix and match things so you include foods from at least two food groups: meat and alternatives, carbohydrates, and vegetables and fruit.
What about carbs?
Carbs are such a staple in most breakfast selections. Toast, cereal, waffles, pancakes, bagels… they’re usually the go-to breakfast item. However, if you aren’t going to use the energy (i.e., you’re heading into the office to sit at your desk for 8 hours), you likely don’t need the carbs at the start of your day. Yup, I said it, you don’t need them. Spiking your insulin with carbs to then sit around isn’t the best choice.
On days where I’m not working out until later, my breakfast relies on healthy fat sources for energy along with a protein source and vegetables for nutrients. In these cases, my breakfast typically consists of ground beef and green vegetables such as broccoli. I’ve found this form of meal keeps me full until my next meal and I don’t feel the typical energy slump when the sugars wear off from a carb-meal. It’s a more stable form of energy.
No, I’m not a low-carb activist, I’m a firm believer in how amazing and necessary carbs are. But, I also believe in timing them properly in your day to be used optimally. That’s a different topic though…
Still not convinced about eating breakfast? Consider these benefits to the meal:
- Improved weight loss stats. Large, longitudinal studies continue to find that those who eat breakfast have a healthier BMI.
- Lowered risk of heart disease. It’s also been found that non-breakfast eaters are more likely to have hypertension, be insulin resistant, and have elevated blood sugar levels.
- More energy. By starting your day with fuel in your system, your body can run efficiently.
- Improved concentration and memory.
- Are happier people. Ok, I made that up, but eating makes me happy, so causation studies would agree.
What did you have for breakfast today? Put down the kid’s cereal and mix things up by trying something a little different and see how it makes you feel.