People have been saying it for ages – breakfast is the most important meal of the day. You’ve undoubtedly heard it, and might even take it to heart, but in a world where we’re always on the go or in a hurry, breakfast sometimes doesn’t make the cut.
Expert nutritionists and health gurus are all in agreement about breakfast being an integral part of your day. Not only can it give you the boost of energy you need to start your day off right, it also sets up your eating schedule for the day. Skipping breakfast means you’ll be lagging in the morning, starving by 11a.m., and reaching for the nearest edible item to satisfy your hunger. People that skip breakfast are more likely to make poor food choices later on, consuming more calories and fat content to fill up fast.
Instead of letting yourself get in a habit of skipping breakfast, or eating the wrong types of food for your first meal, plan out this important part of your day to make sure you’re getting the most from it. Eat the right foods early on in the day to set yourself up for success and discourage bad food choices later on.
Fruits and vegetables are not only a great addition to any breakfast, they can also be a breakfast in and of themselves. Grabbing a piece of fruit as you’re running out the door or getting ready to head into a meeting is certainly better than nothing, and much better than grabbing a donut or pastry. Fruits are high in fiber as well, so they’ll fill you up without adding calories. Because fruits and vegetables are relatively low in calories and fat content, you can eat more of these foods to fill up.
According to the CDC, most adults should eat between 1 to 3 cups of fruit and vegetables per day depending on age, sex and level of physical activity. A few strawberries with your yogurt, mushrooms added to your omelet or slices of apple can help get you to your targeted amount. Getting creative with your fruits and vegetables in the morning can liven up the start to your day. For those that don’t like noshing on fruits and veggies, try juicing or making smoothies out of low-fat yogurt, frozen or fresh fruits and juice.
Fill up fast with whole grains in the morning. This is probably the easiest switch for most people that are looking to shape up their breakfast routine. Cereals, bagels, waffles, breakfast bars and oatmeal are easy to find in whole grain varieties and often taste just as good as their counterparts. Breakfast foods that are high in fiber will keep you fuller longer, which will leave you less hungry around lunchtime.
However, you should be careful not to overdo it on the fiber right off the bat. People that aren’t used to eating a lot of fiber can actually end up doing more harm than good as the body tries to process the higher intake of fiber, which often results in constipation, cramps or diarrhea. Stick to breakfast foods that will give you 3 to 5 grams of fiber in one serving, as this is the optimal level for most adults.
While some people might think eating protein is only for guys that want to bulk up, the truth is that everyone needs protein throughout the day. Eating around 5 grams of protein with your breakfast is essential to staving off hunger and getting the nutrients your body requires. Most people start their days off by eating foods that are high in carbohydrates and low in fiber and protein. Fiber, protein, and some healthy fats will keep you full and give you an extra boost of energy at the start of the day.
Some breakfast foods that will give you the right amount of protein include yogurt, cottage cheese, milk, lean bacon or ham, turkey bacon, peanut butter, light cream cheese and lox. Switch it up throughout the week with easy to make foods, and save the foods that need extra prep or cook time for the weekend.
Eating a variety of breakfast foods will help keep your first meal of the day balanced, and equally as important, it will keep things interesting. People that eat a bowl of sugary cereal every morning are likely to get bored of breakfast and might even opt to skip the meal eventually. If you’re in a rush, grab a granola bar, a banana and a couple sips of skim milk as you head to work. If you have more time, sit down and enjoy some whole grain waffles, strawberries and yogurt.
Don’t let a hectic schedule or lack of time interfere with your need for a healthy, hearty and filling breakfast every morning. It’s important for your health, and your weight, to eat breakfast every morning. Pick breakfast foods that taste good, are packed with nutrients and are high in fiber and protein to fuel your day.