September has been labeled as Better Breakfast Month by the United States government. What better way to start the day than with a hearty, filling meal?
We’ve all done it – run out the door without grabbing anything to eat because we’re late or too tired to make anything. We then start our day with an empty stomach and low energy, which makes it hard for us to work to our full potential. If you are a routine breakfast skipper, this is a habit to try to break!
Once we wake in the morning, we may not have eaten for up to twelve hours (depending on what time we eat in the evening and when our alarm goes off). This means that our bodies have very low blood glucose levels (aka blood sugar) first thing in the morning. Glucose is a carbohydrate, obtained through our food, that we use as our fuel source. Extra glucose gets stored in our livers and muscles as glycogen. As we sleep, our bodies use this glycogen to keep our blood sugar levels stable. This is important because our body needs a constant supply of glucose to keep it running properly (think: breathing, heart beating, etc.). Eventually, these stores get low and we need to replenish our glucose levels through food, like breakfast!
Consuming breakfast can help you meet all of your daily vitamin and mineral levels, as well as helping to control your weight. People who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight or obese and more likely to be a physcially active person. By eating breakfast, you are helping to keep your glucose levels steady. This will aid in keeping your appetite stable and controlled; when your appetite is stable, you won’t get ravenously hungry. This will make it easier to reach for healthier options and proper portions instead of eating too much or too little.
Studies have found that there are some long-term effects of skipping breakfast. There is a connection with skipping breakfast and a poor lifestyle – overconsumption of alcohol, smoking, being sedentary, mood changes, and depressive symptoms. Skipping breakfast can make it hard to focus and get that to-do list done. Without the proper fuel, our brains cannot function at their best potential. Studies suggest that without breakfast, some short-term effects can take place as well, like our ability to concentrate, pay attention, or remember things. Students who eat breakfast often perform better academically compared to students who do not eat breakfast, and some studies have even shown that those who eat breakfast have a lower chance of developing type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.
Many people don’t think that they have time to eat a nutritious breakfast, let alone breakfast at all. With a little planning ahead you could whip something up in five minutes, like smoothies or oatmeal, or prepare breakfast the night before in the same amount of time, like a sandwich or pancakes.
Here are some breakfast choices that will keep you going all day long and are perfect for meal prep:
Written by Kristin Mattia, dietetics student with University of Maryland