Photo Credit: Lesyy / iStockPhoto.com
The Amazing Physical and Psychological Benefits of a Morning Meal
Breakfast is a divisive meal: some people swear by it and others want nothing to do with it. One problem is that morning habits tend to become ingrained, so whatever your routine, you’re likely to stick by it as long as it gets you out of the door. This is bad news for those who shun breakfast.
Waking up after eight foodless hours will naturally bring about a hunger pang or two, but there’s more value to breakfast than satisfying your appetite. From more weight loss, to better thinking, and even a lower risk of disease, here are some excellent reasons to start each and every day off with a good breakfast.
Levels out Glucose and Hormones
When you wake up after a full night’s sleep, your blood glucose level is low and your cortisol level is high. Low blood glucose leaves you feeling weak and tired — it will seem like you need to exert yourself more for simple tasks and motions.
The easiest way to bump up your blood glucose to healthy levels is with some complex carbohydrates, which also helps to keep that glucose stream steady.
Cortisol is a stress hormone produced in the adrenal glands that kicks in to support and repair your body while you sleep, but works against your health during waking hours: too much cortisol will eventually break down muscle protein and encourage fat storage.
When you wake up, you need some nutrient intervention to bring it back down to normal, and that’s where breakfast comes into play.
Photo Credit: a_namenko / iStockPhoto.com
Protect Against Heart Disease
There is more and more evidence to suggest breakfast can significantly cut your risk of heart disease and all its associated health problems. Recently, a study following 27,000 men — some who ate breakfast, and some who didn’t — revealed that abstaining from breakfast could raise heart disease risk by 27 percent.
You don’t have to limit yourself to a piece of fruit to enjoy the results, either.
A 2007 study out of Pennington Biomedical Research Center found that women who ate eggs for breakfast lost more weight and felt more energized than those who ate a bagel for their morning meal, and despite the higher fat content in eggs, their blood cholesterol levels did not increase.
Photo Credit: monticelllo / iStockPhoto.com
Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Chronic fluctuating glucose levels can set the stage for insulin resistance and metabolic problems, leading right to type 2 diabetes. Since you wake up with low glucose levels, you’re at your most vulnerable in the morning, but this is also your best chance to get your metabolism on track.
Studies have found that both women and men who skip breakfast, even a few times a week, are more prone to developing diabetes down the road. It seems that eating something is what matters most — the quality of meals didn’t seem to impact risk in the study on 30,000 men. Although, eating a high-quality, well-rounded breakfast can also help in other departments, like weight maintenance, cholesterol levels and appetite control.
Photo Credit: kazoka30 / iStockPhoto.com
Boost Your Brain Power
The benefits of breakfast go beyond the physical: stabilizing your glucose levels in the morning could have lasting effects on your brain throughout the day, too. The push to provide healthy breakfasts in schools is backed by numerous studies that show how children who eat a morning meal perform mentally and physically better throughout their day.
Both adults and children who eat breakfast daily appear to benefit from better memory, creativity and learning.
Breakfast also helps you stay focused, and you can maximize those concentration benefits by including “brain boosting” foods in your menu. Make some room for eggs, salmon, berries, nuts and seeds — these foods are high in omega-3 fatty acids and powerful antioxidants.
Photo Credit: Yulia_Davidovich / iStockPhoto.com
Studies confirm that non-breakfast eaters are generally heavier than breakfast eaters. There are several theories about how breakfast help weight loss and maintenance, and very likely, they’re all true to some degree.
By satiating hunger, bumping up blood glucose, and prompting other healthier dietary choices, a morning meal can fight off some of the leading causes of weight gain and obesity.
The National Weight Control Registry reports that 80 percent of its members, who have lost a significant amount of weight and kept it off, stick to a fairly regimented diet that always includes breakfast. It seems that those who skip breakfast will give in to hunger later on, leading to bigger lunches and more indulgence throughout the day.
Photo Credit: monkeybusinessimages / iStockPhoto.com
Improve Physical Endurance
If you’re an athlete, avid exerciser, or would simply like to be able to walk around more comfortably, breakfast can help you reach your goals quicker than you might imagine. Sports doctors and trainers point to the importance of “nutrient timing” for athletic performance, and for them the morning meal is by far the most important.
A good breakfast is built on healthy carbohydrates to replenish your muscle and liver glycogen stores. Since your muscles and nervous system can draw on carbohydrates more readily than other macronutrients (like fats and proteins), feeding them right off the bat will guarantee a better morning workout, but the benefits will stretch into very phase of your active day.
Photo Credit: shironosov / iStockPhoto.com
Focus Your Attention
It’s safe to say the average American falls short of their daily recommended levels of minerals and nutrients (not to mention exercise), but there’s an easy way to make up for the handy snacks and motionless minutes that pad out your workday.
If you start with a well-rounded breakfast in the morning, you can set the stage for healthy eating, calorie control, more activity, and other good habits throughout the day.
Consider how automatic other parts of your morning routine have become; they all add up to get you ready for the day ahead. A wholesome breakfast can give you the pause you need to consider your daily tasks, reset your energy stores, and start off with a calm and positive mindset.
Photo Credit: Micko1986 / iStockPhoto.com
Ward off Hunger
Breakfast satiates hunger more than any other meal, and that can have a huge impact on how you eat all day long. It comes down to naturally-occurring hormones in your gut that control hunger: these hormones are released in the morning, and without a decent meal to bring cortisol levels back down, they can continue to stimulate appetite throughout the day, regardless of what you choose to eat later on.
Those who skip breakfast tend to make up for it in the hours to come. As sugary snacks, unhealthy lunch choices and other indulgences add up, it’s easy to tack on way more calories than you saved by not eating breakfast.
If you’re ready to commit to breakfast but don’t like to eat a lot first thing in the morning, choose ingredients that pack a big punch in a little package. Eggs are one of the very best breakfast choices, with a host of minerals and nutrients, a load of top-notch protein, and plenty of flavor to satisfy your taste buds.
If you prefer sweet, opt for a handful of berries on low-fat yogurt or on a small bed of high-fiber cereal for the nutrients you need and plenty of sustained energy.