The Science Of Breakfast

You’ve heard it before–it’s the most important meal of the day. But how does breakfast affect your health? And does it really matter?

Countless studies have shown a link between regularly eating breakfast and overall health. Eating a healthy breakfast is an excellent way to reduce cravings later in the day, control body weight and regulate blood sugar. People who eat a healthy breakfast tend to have fewer problems with obesity and find it easier to maintain nutritious habits throughout the rest of the day.

The Effects of a Healthy Breakfast

During the night, your body goes through a fast, triggering an insulin response that increases fat storage. Without breakfast, this insulin response continues into the day. A break in the fast triggers the body to start processing blood sugar more efficiently.

A healthy breakfast also allows your body to replenish its stores of glycogen, which supplies glucose–or “blood sugar”–to the brain. Glucose is required for optimal brain functioning, but as we sleep, our glucose levels diminish. Even if you don’t feel hungry in the morning, your brain needs sugar for optimal performance. Giving it a boost will lead to improved alertness and concentration.

Breakfast and Health: Dieting

If you’re trying to cut calories, breakfast isn’t the place to do it. A healthy breakfast can regulate your appetite and help to reduce your calorie intake for the rest of the day. Skipping any meal tends to make us eat more during the next meal. The way to beat this cycle is to have a small, smart, healthy meal before the hunger of the day has a chance to kick in.

Healthy Breakfast Recommendations

Breakfast doesn’t need to be an ordeal–in fact, the healthiest breakfasts are simple and easy to make. The following food choices can propel you into a productive day without requiring excessive time or preparation:

  • Protein: Two eggs
  • Vitamins and glucose: A piece of fruit, orange juice, or a fruit smoothie
  • Whole grains and calcium: A bowl of low-sugar cereal with milk
  • Whole grain carbohydrates: Oatmeal with honey, or whole grain toast with butter or peanut butter.

A healthy breakfast can be a combination of any of the above, like two slices of whole grain toast with butter, one egg and a banana. Or a bowl of cereal with milk and strawberries. Breakfast should fill you and give you energy without making you feel uncomfortably full or sluggish.

Resources

Kids Health.org. (2010). Breakfast basics. Retrieved September 4, 2010, from http://kidshealth.org/parent/nutrition_fit/nutrition/breakfast.html?tracking=P_RelatedArticle

Zeratsky, K. (2010). Why does eating breakfast help control weight? Retrieved September 4, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/food-and-nutrition/AN01119