Breakfast Really Is The Most Important Meal of The Day ... And Here's Why
What’s So Good About Breakfast?
Don’t like to eat breakfast? Sorry, but there’s no way around this one; eating a good breakfast is one of the key habits experts have identified that keeps thin people thin. When members of the National Weight Control Registry (people who have maintained a weight loss of 30 pounds for between one and six years) were surveyed, 78 percent reported eating breakfast every day and almost 90 percent reported eating breakfast at least five days a week. This was one of the only factors researchers identified that those in the registry had in common! They found that breakfast eaters were more successful at maintaining their weight loss. Another study found that women who skipped breakfast made up for it by eating more throughout the day.
A Harvard study found that people who ate breakfast every day cut their chances of becoming obese and developing diabetes by 35 to 50 percent, compared with those who ate breakfast only twice a week.
But why does breakfast make the difference? By the time you get up in the morning, 10 to 12 hours have passed since your last meal and your body is in fasting mode. Eating soon after rising will literally break this fast (see where the word "breakfast" comes from?) and fire up your metabolism for the day. If you aren’t hungry as soon as you get up, have something nutritious to eat anyway, even if it's small. After two to three weeks of eating even a small breakfast (like yogurt or fruit), your body will reset your appetite and you'll begin to naturally feel hungry in the morning—that's a good thing!
Breakfast eaters get many benefits including:
• Speeds up our metabolism early so that it burns the maximum number of calories all day to fuel our activities.
• Fewer total calories are usually consumed the rest of the day.
• an increased leptin output
What’s leptin, you ask?
Leptin is a hormone that suppresses appetite. Eating a significant meal early in the day ensures our body’s leptin production.
Since leptin suppresses appetite, it follows that those of us who eat breakfast would take in fewer calories throughout the day. In fact, researchers at the University of Texas, El Paso, studied the food diaries of 586 men and women and determined that the more food people ate in the morning, the fewer calories they consumed in an entire day.
Breakfast is Good for Everyone
• Breakfast boosts memory.
Eating breakfast improves memory and learning ability. One study of college students found that those who ate breakfast scored 22 percent higher in word-recall tests than students who skipped breakfast. Breakfast raises your blood sugar, which is needed to make the memory-boosting neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
• Breakfast boosts mood and performance.
A Harvard study showed that children who ate breakfast had 40 percent higher math grades and missed fewer days of school than non-breakfast eaters. Kids who skipped breakfast were twice as likely to be depressed, four times more prone to anxiety, and 30 percent more likely to be hyperactive. When children who "rarely" ate breakfast began eating breakfast "often," their math grades increased one full letter grade, and their levels of depression, anxiety and hyperactivity all decreased. While this study looked at children, it is natural to assume that adults would see similar results related to work performance and mood.
• Breakfast boosts heart health.
Blood tends to become "sticky" overnight, making it more prone to clots in the morning. According to researchers at Canada’s Memorial University in Newfoundland, eating breakfast "unsticks" your blood. Skipping breakfast triples the blood’s clot-forming potential—and the risk of morning heart attacks and strokes. Recent studies have also found that cold cereals fortified with 400 micrograms of folic acid help curb homocysteine, a blood factor that boosts the risk of heart disease and strokes.
• Breakfast boosts nutrition.
Breakfast eaters consume more nutrients each day than breakfast skippers. Eating an a.m. meal particularly increases one's intake of important nutrients like calcium, iron, zinc, B vitamins and fiber. A morning meal also gives you a head start on getting the five to ten servings of fruits and vegetables you need each day.
Opt for complex carbs, proteins and fats. Both protein and healthy fats increase our satiety – feeling of fullness. Carbs alone cause an increase in hunger. Unlike sugary carbs, complex carbs digest more slowly, so with protein and fat, providing a feeling of fullness longer in the day. Whole grains are a good choice because they keep you feeling full, according to a dietary study that compared feelings of satisfaction between people who ate a hot whole-grain cereal for breakfast and those who ate refined wheat bread. Those who ate the whole-grain breakfast reported feeling less hungry over the following eight hours than the comparison group. A well-rounded breakfast prevents unhealthy snacking before lunch.