You know it—the age-old adage: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. While this might fall into the same category as “An apple a day…” in terms of it’s quaint provenance, unlike the apple advice, the breakfast bit is TRUE! In fact, according to WebMD, “Breakfast kick-starts your metabolism, helping you burn calories throughout the day. It also gives you the energy you need to get things done and helps you focus at work or at school.” And conversely, “Skipping the morning meal can throw off your body’s rhythm of fasting and eating. When you wake up, the blood sugar your body needs to make your muscles and brain work their best is usually low. Breakfast helps replenish it.”
According to Consumer Reports (and hundreds of other sources including Live Science), eating breakfast not only keeps your weight down, lowers your risk of Type-2 Diabetes, helps protect your heart, AND gives you a mental edge, “Research involving adults and children has indicated that breakfast might enhance memory, attention, the speed of processing information, reasoning, creativity, learning, and verbal abilities. Scientists at the University of Milan in Italy reviewed 15 studies and found some evidence that those benefits might be a function of the stable glucose levels that a morning meal provides.”
So why do so many of us skip this energy-replenishing meal? According to a study published on Today’s Dietician, “An ABC News Poll conducted in 2005 revealed that roughly 40% of Americans routinely skip breakfast. Most people cite time as a factor in determining whether they will eat breakfast [while] many people skip breakfast to save on calories…”
LiveStrong points out that cutting out breakfast to save on calories is a is a big fitness no-no. “Skipping breakfast can actually backfire on you, and cause you to gain weight. When you don’t eat a meal in the morning after going several hours without eating overnight, you may starving by mid-morning, and eat whatever is on hand, such as the sugary doughnuts in the break room. Even if you make it to lunch without caving to an unhealthy snack, you may be so hungry that you make poor food choices and eat more calories for lunch than you normally would. Not only can these extra calories can derail your weight loss efforts, but going without food increases the production of insulin in your body, which can cause your body to store more fat.”
But we get it. It’s easy to see why people would be tempted to cut out breakfast when sugary cereals and easy-to-grab fast-food sandwiches are so popular. Many things labeled as “breakfast food” are essentially junk food in disguise. So what’s the solution? There are many nutritious and EASY options that can jumpstart your day. Women’s Health has some great suggestions, “Research has shown that enjoying a protein-packed breakfast will keep you more satisfied, and for longer, than chowing down on a high-carbohydrate meal. Choose quality, wholesome protein options like eggs, Greek yogurt, nut butter, and chicken sausage. Bid those mid-morning stomach rumbles goodbye.”
This topic has come up because recently at DUFF, Anna and I were amazed at how many of our clients do NOT EAT BREAKFAST before they workout. But beyond just jumpstarting your metabolism (and adding in some key nutrients), breakfast helps you in the gym as well! According to the Mayo Clinic, “Eating and exercise go hand in hand. When and what you eat can be important to how you feel when you exercise, whether it’s a casual workout or training for a competition…Studies suggest eating or drinking carbohydrates before exercise can improve workout performance and may allow you to workout for a longer duration or higher intensity. If you don’t eat, you might feel sluggish or lightheaded when you exercise.”
And beyond sluggishness, fasting before a workout can have some grave consequences. According to The Daily Burn, “‘Pre-workout snacks shouldn’t make you feel stuffed but it is important to eat up,’ says Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, CSSD. ‘Exercising on an empty stomach can lead to the breakdown of muscle tissue,’ cautions Sass. Without food to fuel your workout, muscle tissue is instead converted into glucose to provide the energy you need, which isn’t ideal — whether you’re trying to build muscle or lose weight. This breakdown can negatively impact your metabolism and might even lead to injury.”
With that in mind, we recommend that you check out some of our favorite sources to come up with some creative (and HEALTHY) breakfast ideas. Men’s Health has a fun food quiz that compares foods like bacon vs. sausage and oatmeal vs. granola on the healthy scale and gives great tips on how to upgrade your morning meal (something you should definitely consider doing before coming to a group fitness class, doing cardio, lifting weights or any other exercise you may be doing around Charleston or Mount Pleasant). You can get to it by clicking on this link. And for healthy & easy breakfast options, check out these Breakfast Tips at Women’s Health by clicking on this link.