Start the Day Right: Eat Breakfast

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October 21, 2009


“I don’t have the time or inclination to eat breakfast first thing in the morning. I’d rather get my walk in and some miles down the road before I eat. I figure it’s just that fewer calories I’ll eat in the day,” said a student in answer to my question, what did you eat for breakfast?” If you agree, and make a habit of skipping the first meal of the day I want you to reconsider and take into account the following.

Eating breakfast helps to control weight. How could it be that eating food helps to lose weight?  Eating breakfast reduces your hunger later in the day, making it easier to avoid temptations. When you skip breakfast, your stomach complains, leading you to overindulge when you make it to the breakfast table. Prolonged fasting, which is what occurs when you skip breakfast will increase your body’s insulin response, which triggers an increase of fat storage causing weight gain.

Studies have established that skipping breakfast increases your risk of obesity.  A study revealed that even when consuming equal daily calories, those who at the bulk of their calories later on in the day by skipping breakfast gained more weight than those who ate breakfast and interspersed the food evenly through the day. Eating breakfast boosts energy, making it easier for you to work out harder and longer.

The food that you eat for breakfast gives you energy, increasing your ability to workout and further increasing your physical activity throughout the day. Your body will burn more calories and feel inclined to movement more when the fuel store is high. On the other hand, skipping breakfast triggers your body’s famine alarms, sending it into protective mode, storing more fat for the future and decreasing your inclination to exercise, in order to protect you from diminished food supply.

Eating a good breakfast revs up your metabolism so that it will burn the maximum number of calories to fuel your activities It also results in fewer total calories consumed throughout the day. Fueling up early increases the leptin output–a hormone that suppresses appetite. 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 the entire day, and the more activity they engaged in during a normal day.

So what should you fuel up on to start your day? You’ll want to focus on high octane, high mileage fuel. Refined carbohydrates–meaning sugar, sweet cereals, waffles, pastries etc.–will start an all day overload and trigger cravings to continue down the white flour, white sugar highway all day long. Use high energy providing carbohydrates, whole grains, high fiber cereal with low fat milk. A piece of whole grain toast with peanut butter is a good choice. Find an appealing source of protein and complex carbs to keep your engine running efficiently all day. Other good portable items include: whole grain crackers, a hard boiled egg, cottage cheese, low-fat granola bars, yogurt or a smoothie.

One more very important reason to fuel up first thing in the morning is to provide your brain with nutrients. Your brain and central nervous system run on glucose, you need this fuel to think, reason, walk, talk and exercise. If you haven’t eaten anything since 8 or 9 o’clock the night before, you are running on empty. You have no fuel in your system; your body has to break down stored protein into a usable form for your brain to function. So if you are working hard to build muscle through strength training, when you skip the morning meal, your body will have to undo the hard work you performed yesterday, or are trying to do today, leaving you exhausted, and without any strength or muscle gain.

So if you are looking for an easy and inexpensive way to improve your health, fitness and performance (both physical and mental) start the habit of eating breakfast. Begin to plan a healthy option to start your day, even if it’s a small start; a peanut butter sandwich, banana, and a handful of nuts, a protein shake, or leftovers from last night’s healthy dinner, and reap the benefits of fueling up and starting your day off right.


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  2. Bill

    When I was in my 20s I would often go without breakfast. I preferred those extra few minutes in bed and I solved the hunger problem with a nice cold coke a little later. Weight wasn’t an issue because I was 5′ 11″ and weighed 135 lbs.

    Later I got a crush on this waitress who happened to work breakfast at a local restaurant. It was worth it to get up early enough to stop in and get breakfast and drink some coffee and talk with her before work.

    I began to notice how much better I felt (and how less crabby I was) all morning long. Don’t know if it was the food or the server that improved my day but it sure worked.

    Well, the waitress ran off with somebody else but I remained a faithful breakfast eater. It may be just a bowl of cereal or a fancy plate of bacon, eggs, and potatoes but I always make sure I get my breakfast in.

    Wonder what ever happened to that girl anyway?

  3. Great article Lynn!
    I always eat breakfast and what you say makes a lot of sense!