As a health and fitness columnist and as someone who stayed awake through most of Physical Education 151 at Covenant College, I know breakfast is the most important meal of the day (commence eye roll). On the other hand, it’s enough of a struggle for me to leave the overall gezelligheid of my bed and venture into the great unknown abyss that some obnoxious people call "another glorious day in creation." And because my alarm clock looks like this, unfortunately, my version of a "well-balanced breakfast" usually looks like this.
Seriously though, I hate mornings. I have tried to find some scientific research that refutes the claim of breakfast’s supreme importance, but I have found nothing. So instead of lying to you about how you should skip your breakfast, I’ll share with you the most compelling reasons I’ve discovered as to why the first meal is significantly more profitable than the fourth.
Why is breakfast important?
Studies show that eating a healthy breakfast can give you a more nutritionally complete diet, lower your cholesterol levels, provide more strength and endurance for physical activities, and improve concentration or performance.
In addition, a recent longitudinal study published in the journal Circulation found that men who routinely skip breakfast have a 27 percent higher risk of having a heart attack or dying from coronary heart disease, compared to men who eat breakfast.
After fasting all night long, breakfast can really rev your energy levels. If you select slow-burning foods, like whole grains and fruits, you should be able to control your appetite until lunch, which implies that a healthy breakfast is also important for weight control. Along this vein, those who eat breakfast are less likely to binge on unhealthy, high-fat, high-calorie snacks (e.g., those from the vending machine) before lunch. In fact, several studies have demonstrated that skipping breakfast is associated with childhood obesity.
Also, survey analyses have shown that those who eat breakfast are more likely to get the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables for the day. Hitting this "high-five" mark is really important, as several studies have shown that people who eat lots of fruits and vegetables generally have a lower risk of heart disease, cancer and other chronic diseases.
How can I actually do it?
That’s all well and good, but preparing a healthy breakfast before I bolt out of the door is at the bottom of my priority list. But there’s good news and some bad news. The good news is that it’s possible to eat a healthy breakfast on the go/in a hurry. The only negative is that this may take some preparation beforehand.
When considering foods for breakfast, stay away from items with refined sugars that provide lots of calories without many nutrients. These breakfast foods are likely to give you a sugar high that will leave you with less energy than you would have if you skipped breakfast altogether.
So skip the doughnuts and pastries, and instead make some muffins over the weekend and freeze them. Or you could get your Tupperware out and prepare a few servings of fruits, nuts and cereal to grab on the way out with your Greek yogurt and have it at the office. Another prep option is to make a batch of smoothies using low-fat or Greek yogurt and freeze it. Oh, and consider adding flaxseed to any cereal or yogurt option, just so you’re making sure you’re getting your omega-3 fatty acids in for the day.
All right, night owls, I’m challenging you (and myself) to try this whole breakfast thing (in some form) for a week. Note the difference in how you feel and in your cognition as you begin your day. Email me and let me know the results.
And if you’re struggling to get up, just remember that if Britney Spears could get through 2007, you can get through ANYTHING (mornings included).
Rashad J. Gober is a gym junkie, avid runner and freelance writer whose interests include pop culture and healthy living. But he's not a doctor, so his suggestions are no substitute for medical advice. Feel free to contact him via Twitter or email with any comments or suggestions. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.
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