Is breakfast the most important meal of the day and if so, why? It depends on who you ask. That said, there’s little debate on the benefits of eating breakfast.
Experts at the Mayo Clinic say science shows a link between breakfast and banishing belly fat. (They explain it briefly in this video.) And they stress, keeping slim around the midsection is about much more than looking fit and fabulous. Belly fat has a reputation as ‘bad fat.’
“That is the dangerous fat, that fat is really bad for your health because it’s more consistently associated with hypertension, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease. And that’s the fat we don’t want to have,” says Dr. Naima Covassin, a researcher at Mayo’s Cardiovascular Physiology Laboratory.
Eating breakfast is healthy in many ways. Of course, it’s common sense to fuel your body if you want it to perform. But getting some nutrition in the morning is also good for heart health, can help lower the risk of diabetes and combat brain fog by giving your brain the nutrients it needs to be at its best.
What are the benefits of eating breakfast?
Boosts brain power: Studies suggest eating breakfast may help children do better in school by improving memory, alertness, concentration, problem-solving ability and mood. Adult breakfast skippers, take a lesson—eating breakfast may help boost your brain power too. Plus, you’ll be setting a great example: Kids are more likely to eat breakfast if their parents do.
Fuels your tank: Running on empty can leave you feeling tired and not on top of your game. Break for breakfast—it takes just a few minutes to fuel up.
Better digestion: The fibre in many breakfast foods like whole wheat breads and cereals, bagels, English muffins and fruits, may help keep you regular.
- Some research suggests fibre may reduce the risk of colon cancer
- Some yogurts and cereals contain so-called friendly bacteria that promote digestive health
- Emerging research suggests eating a nutritious breakfast of whole grain cereal and milk may help the body better regulate insulin levels
- Studies suggest popular breakfast foods like whole grain cereals and breads, milk products and fruit may also help reduce risk for metabolic syndrome — a condition linked to heart disease and type 2 diabetes
Stronger bones: Milk, the most commonly consumed breakfast food, packs calcium, Vitamin D, and protein, which are good for healthy bones. People who start the day with the traditional cereal and milk combo get seven times more calcium than those who eat cereal without milk.
Some other Benefits of Breakfast
Covassin led a study showing people who consumed breakfast daily gained less weight than those who didn’t.
- Those who ate breakfast frequently put on less than three pounds in the past year
- Those who ate the meal one to four times a week, put on about five pounds
- Those who skipped breakfast altogether added about eight pounds in 12 months
If you eat breakfast every day, you’re in good company
Nearly 60 per cent of Canadians say they do. At the other end of the spectrum, in the same survey published on Statista.com, just over six per cent said they never eat breakfast and nine per cent said they only add that meal on weekends.
Despite all the goodness offered by breakfast, the meal isn’t necessarily for everyone.
Some people simply don’t wake up hungry. Others prefer an intermittent fasting-style of eating (eating between certain hours of the day) which means they may get a late start to the morning meal. And that’s OK.
"An early breakfast might not be for everyone,” says registered dietitian Beth Czerwony. “Listen to your hunger cues to know how important it is for you. What you eat over the whole day is more important than stressing over breakfast.”
(Learn more about those hints you may be hungry here.)
So, what should be on your breakfast plate? Czerwony offers some healthy options you may want to try. Keep in mind, opting for healthy foods (saying ‘no,’ to processed or super sugary stuff,) is the best way to fuel your body.
Greek yogurt or cottage cheese
Why? This protein-and-fat combo can give you a long-lasting feeling of fullness. Mix in nuts, fruits or whole grain cereal.
Peanut butter and grain
Why? It’s a healthy mix of fat and protein which pairs perfectly with a slice of high-fibre toast or an English muffin. If you are allergic to peanuts, try avocado.
Why? Czerwony says oats take just three minutes to cook up in the microwave making it a quick fix. Add berries, nuts or flaxseed and you’re good to go. You can also try overnight oats made with your choice of water, milk or yogurt. Here are some ‘extraordinary’ recipes.
Why? When talking about breakfast, we can’t forget the eggs. Hardboiled, fried or mixed up with last night’s leftovers. Add beans, salsa, cheese or spinach and avocados to tailor a scramble to your liking. Tofu works, too.
Why? Breakfast shakes or smoothies are the next best thing to eating. And, of course, an option for those who can’t quite stomach a meal in the morning. Czerwony suggests the ultra shake as a nutritious option.
Some breakfast hacks to make eating breakfast quick and easy
- Sit down with the family to plan nutritious breakfasts for the week
- Post the plan in the kitchen for all to see
- Getting kids involved encourages them to eat the morning meal
- Add breakfast items to your shopping list so your kitchen is well-stocked
- Each evening, set the table for breakfast and put out non-perishables such as cereal boxes, oatmeal containers, whole grain bread, peanut butter and fruit
- Store milk, yogurt, hard-cooked eggs so they are ready-to-go
- If the family is brown-bagging breakfast, pack and label each person’s bag the night before and store them in the fridge. Better yet, get everyone to assemble their own
- On weekends, take time to enjoy and make breakfast a big part of the day
Source — Wake up to the Benefits of Breakfast
Looking to hop on the breakfast bandwagon?
March is Nutrition Month. Canadian dietitians offer great resources here to boost your health through your daily diet.