Is breakfast the most important meal of the day? Well, consider this. Breakfast not only "breaks the fast", it is also an important contributor of nutrients and helps control weight .
Sugary pastries and cereals may jump-start your energy level in the morning, but can cause your body to produce too much insulin. In an hour or two, your blood sugar can drop leading to hunger, headaches and fatigue. On the other hand, whole grain breads and cereals, protein, fruits and vegetables are more slowly absorbed by the body maintaining a more steady energy level throughout the morning.
The Bogalusa Heart Study conducted in a large biracial community in Louisiana since 1972, found that breakfast is an important contributor to the nutritional adequacy of children’s diets. Children who skipped breakfast (16% of 10-year olds) had a lower intake of calories, protein, carbohydrates and several vitamins and minerals compared to children who ate breakfast. Breakfast skippers ate fewer dairy products and fruit, and were more likely not to meet even two-thirds of their needs for several vitamins and minerals. The study also compared the breakfast patterns of 3 groups of 10-year olds who ate 1) breakfast at home, 2) breakfast at school, or 3) no breakfast. Children who ate breakfast at home ate fewer calories, a lower percentage of calories from fat and more carbohydrates than children who ate breakfast at school. However, the home breakfast contained more sucrose than the typical school breakfast. The sucrose came from table sugar, colas and other sweetened drinks, cookies, cakes and brownies. In other words, breakfast eaten at home can be good or bad depending on the choices. The school breakfast contained slightly more calories, carbohydrates, fat and sodium compared to the home breakfast. However, both the school breakfast and home breakfast eaters received more nutrients for the day than those who ate no breakfast.
A number of studies from the National Weight Control Registry show that people who are breakfast eaters successfully maintain a significant weight loss . Eating breakfast increases metabolism. By not eating until later in the day, the body assumes it is fasting. Fasting causes the body to conserve energy (calories), slowing metabolism. People who do not eat breakfast tend to make up for the calories later in the day leading to overeating.
If you don’t care for typical breakfast foods or find yourself short on time in the morning, try these ideas:
Spread a thin layer of a nut butter on whole wheat toast. This is my breakfast when I have to eat in the car – a peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole wheat toast.
Top a whole grain small bagel or half a large bagel with light or fat-free cream cheese.
Make a breakfast yogurt with plain nonfat or low-fat yogurt with fresh fruit and a cereal such as Grapenuts or granola.
Serve low-fat cottage cheese with fruit.
Scramble an egg, egg substitute or egg whites and roll up in a whole wheat tortilla. Serve with salsa.
Top oatmeal with a small scoop of low fat, low sugar ice cream or frozen yogurt. Sprinkle with wheat germ.
Top a whole grain cereal with fresh fruit and milk or calcium-fortified soy milk.
Muffins are great to grab and go, but healthier if homemade with whole wheat flour and/or oat bran. They can be frozen and thawed in the microwave in 30 seconds or less.
Good Morning Recipes
1 small banana, frozen (freeze in peel & let sit at room temperature about 10 minutes for easier peeling), ¾ cup skim milk, ½ cup nonfat sugar-free flavored yogurt, ¼ cup orange juice. Blend all ingredients until smooth. Makes 2 cups (2 servings). 120 calories, 1 gram fat, 5 grams protein and 20 grams carbohydrate per serving.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg, lightly beaten
¾ cup orange juice
¼ cup butter or margarine, melted
2 medium carrots, shredded
1 medium zucchini, shredded
Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture. Stir together egg, orange juice, and butter; add to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened. Fold in carrot and zucchini. Spoon into greased muffin pans, filling two-thirds full. Bake at 400˚ for 20 minutes. Remove from pan immediately, and cool on wire racks. Makes 1 dozen. About 140 calories each.