Why You Should Eat Breakfast

The benefits of starting your day with a nutritious meal

You might think that the recommendation not to skipbreakfast is just plain good advice. After all you need enough fuel to make itthrough the morning, right?

But research has found even more reasons for making roomfor the "most important meal of the day."

Probably the most appealing benefit is that breakfastjumpstarts your metabolism and, thus, helps you burn more calories throughoutthe day.

When you eat breakfast you're telling your body thatthere are plenty of calories to be had for the day. When you skip breakfast themessage your body gets is that it needs to conserve rather than burn anyincoming calories.

"Studies have found that although people who skipbreakfast eat slightly fewer calories during the day, they tend to have higherbody mass index, or BMI," says Christy C. Tangney, PhD, a clinicaldietitian at Rush University Medical Center and an expert on the effects ofdiet and nutrition on heart health.

"We use BMI, the ratio of a person's weight comparedto height, as an easy measure of whether someone is in the range of his or herhealthy weight or not," she says. "A BMI of 25 or higher, forexample, indicates that someone is overweight and needs to take action to comeback to their ideal weight."

Advantages of eating in the a.m.

Various studies have found different benefits of startingyour day with breakfast, including:

  • Having a lower BMI
  • Consuming less fat through the day
  • Meeting recommendations for fruit and vegetableconsumption
  • Having higher daily calcium intake
  • Having higher daily fiber intake
  • Having better performance (memory and attention)(for school-aged children)

"Much of the research just makes good commonsense," says Tangney. "If you start with a healthy, satisfying mealin the morning you're less apt to nibble on less nutritious things during theday, which we often do out of hunger — you grab the first or easiest thing infront of you."

Disadvantages of missing a morning meal

Various studies have found a range of disadvantages ofskipping breakfast:

  • More likely to be overweight
  • Less likely to meet recommendations for fruitand vegetable consumption
  • More likely to consume unhealthy snacks

Studies of children and adolescents have shown that thosewho skip breakfast are apt to be overweight.

"Of more concern is that an association has beenfound between skipping breakfast and other risky behaviors like smoking, andexperimenting with drugs and alcohol," says Tangney.

When you eat breakfast you're telling your body thatthere are plenty of calories to be had for the day. When you skip breakfast themessage your body gets is that it needs to conserve rather than burn anyincoming calories.

Making good breakfast choices

You might think that a muffin and a cup of coffee oughtto do the trick, but experts advise being more careful about what you choose tostart your day. Here are some suggestions for those on the go:

  • High-fiber cereal with fresh fruit and low-fatmilk or soy or rice milk substitute
  • Low-fat protein shake with fresh/frozen fruit
  • High-fiber toast or bagel with tablespoon ofpeanut butter
  • Select protein bar and yogurt or a glass of milk

"You can also have one serving of fresh fruit lateras a mid-morning snack," says Tangney.

Read labels on any processed breakfast selections to seeif they’re healthy choices.

"Especially with protein bars and some yogurts; someof them can have a lot of added sugar," says Tangney. "It’s a goodidea to try to keep sugars under 20 grams and look for bars with about 6-10grams of protein, and 3 or more grams of fiber."

You may want to consult with a dietitian if you need toget yourself back on track or are looking for menu ideas. You can share yourfood preferences and your limitations with a dietitian and he or she can helpyou with a good plan of action.

"Breakfast is like exercising," Tangney says."If you make room for it in the morning, you'll look and feel greatthroughout the day."

Source: Rush.edu

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