We have all been told at least once about the importance of breakfast and how it should be an integral part of our morning. There are many negative physical, emotional and cognitive consequences to skipping breakfast. These include fatigue, irritability, weight gain, low mood, poor concentration and sugar cravings. Doesn’t sound like a pleasant day does it?
However, another important factor that has not been acknowledged is the content of this important very meal. Less attention is paid to those who eat breakfast, but may not be choosing optimal ingredients. Holistic Nutritionist, Peggy Kotsopoulos states: “A sugary start to the day will have the same negative cognitive impact and weight management implications as skipping breakfast all together.” Therefore, the quality of your breakfast is just as important as the act of eating it!
Why make a wholesome breakfast a priority?
Set The Tone For the Day: There is a psychological aspect to starting the day off right. Consuming a complete breakfast increases the chances that we will eat well and make wise nutritious choices for the remainder of the day.
Kick Start Metabolism: Eating breakfast revs metabolism after a long night of fasting! By making sure we properly fuel the body first thing in the morning, we can efficiently burn more calories throughout the day. Breakfast is strongly associated with maintaining a healthy body weight.
Stabilize Blood Sugar: A well-balanced breakfast leads to sustained energy and satiety throughout the day. In other words, it helps to prevent crashes and control craving. By inhibiting blood sugar fluctuations, insulin sensitivity is maintained and mood is regulated as well.
Prevent Overeating: It saves you from eating more at your next meal. Often, when skipping breakfast or eating too little, we are ravenously hungry by the time we get to lunch. This often leads us to eat whatever we can find as fast as we can in a desperate attempt to soothe our rumbling tummies. Not only does this increase the risk of making unhealthy convenient choices, it also prevents us from properly determining when we are full. It has been shown that those who eat breakfast regularly generally consume fewer calories during the rest of the day.
Boost Brain Power: Another important benefit of a healthy breakfast is that it increases cognitive function! Properly fuelling the brain is essential for optimal performance at work or school. This is especially true for students. Those who consume proper breakfast are shown to be more alert in class, have improved memory, enhanced creativity, better concentration and increased learning ability, leading to higher academic scores!
What is a “proper” breakfast?
In addition to actually eating breakfast, it is important that it contains sufficient amounts of the right nutrients. Common breakfast mistakes include not enough protein, too little fiber, no fat and not enough food!
Due to time restrictions some of the most popular breakfast items include quick options such as white toast, frozen waffles, boxed cereal and bagels. Many of these are composed mainly of refined simple carbohydrates and very low in fiber, healthy fats and protein. This is hardly helpful to someone who needs to be on their “A” game for the remainder of the day. These nutrients are the essential parts of a healthy breakfast that lead to overall balanced mood, improved physical and mental capacity, as well digestive health and appetite control.
In order to gain long lasting energy and mental alertness it is important to choose a high-fiber breakfast that combines healthy fats, ample high-quality protein and low-glycemic complex carbohydrates in sufficient quantities. Examples of high-fiber breakfast items include whole grain products (such as buckwheat, rolled/steel cut oats, millet), flax and chia seeds or fruits. Healthy fats can be in the form of nuts/nut butters, avocado, coconut flakes or coconut oil. Protein sources include eggs, lean meats and Greek yogurt. Consider choosing a high quality protein powder to add adequate amounts to a meal in a convenient, low-calorie form. Protein powder can be enjoyed in smoothies, in hot oatmeal or incorporated into homemade bars and muffins.
This column is sponsored by Good 'n' Natural in Steinbach.