The Benefits of Breakfast
By Geri Wohl – www.bettereatingcoach.com
Do you start your day with a bowl of cereal? Maybe it’s a bagel and cream cheese. Some people may begin with pancakes or French toast. Perhaps your breakfast begins with a cup of coffee and nothing else. Or are you part of the 44% of the US population that has no breakfast at all?
What’s in a good breakfast? Are there ways to start our days with vigor? While some of us don’t pay attention to our morning meal either because we’re not hungry or we lack time, we all need to jump-start our metabolism by providing our bodies with the fuel needed to be more effective at work or school. Breakfast provides fuel after an 8-12 hour fast.
Eating breakfast signals the body that the day is beginning and the appropriate hormones and enzymes need to get ramped up for the day ahead. As the brain is highly dependent on glucose (sugar), carbohydrates which break down to sugars are an important component of our morning meal. But having a heavily carb-rich meal will result in blood sugar spikes. Have you ever wondered why you’re ravenous at 10:00 am after eating a bowl of cereal? Sugar is used by the body as a quick source of energy. But once it is used, the body craves more sugar, resulting in continued hunger. In addition, sugar requires insulin to bring it into the cells. With increased consumption of sugary foods, the body may eventually develop insulin resistance.
Skipping this meal can be just as problematic as having a carbohydrate-rich breakfast. No food signals the body to go into “starvation mode.” Without nourishment,the body tries to hoard every calorie possible until the food crisis has passed. Just like bears and whales put on fat and blubber to deal with the winter months of little food, so too our bodies have an inherent mechanism to protect us from periods of minimal food. The end result is extra fat and weight which most of us would rather avoid.
Eating a balanced breakfast has been shown to help with weight loss. Wholesome breakfasts help reduce hunger throughout the day. When people eat only two meals per day (lunch and dinner), they typically will eat more calories because those hunger pangs are so strong.
So what should be in that morning meal? I always recommend to my clients to start the day with a balanced breakfast including some form of protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats.
So what are these different pieces? Proteins are broken down into amino acids, the building blocks for cells, hormones and enzymes. Proteins also help regulate blood sugar to prevent blood sugar highs and lows. In addition, they provide us with longer periods of energy so that we don’t get as hungry. Examples are eggs, vegetarian protein like lentils or beans, tofu or tempeh, fish, poultry or meat. Carbohydrates are any food that breaks down into sugar. Complex carbs are those that take longer to break apart, and are better for you as they have more dietary fiber. Vegetables, grains, legumes, and fruit fall into this category.
Eating foods that break down into simple sugars too quickly – which is what most Americans eat for breakfast – provide little nutritional value because they are “naked” carbs with none of the necessary fiber, vitamins or minerals. Part of your meal should contain high-fiber and low-glycemic value foods so that your blood sugar remains at a relatively constant level. If you want more information about fiber-rich and low-glycemic foods, please contact me through my website, www.bettereatingcoach.com.
Finally, fat should be included. You don’t need a lot and small amounts of the right fats won’t necessarily make you fat. But you do need to choose quality fats. Some examples of healthy fats are olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, seeds and avocados.
I want to address one food that has been controversial – eggs. Some of us are very concerned about cholesterol. Some new research has shown that consuming eggs in moderation is not responsible for high cholesterol levels. According to the American Heart Association, healthy people can eat an egg per day. One egg has about 70 calories. If you buy pastured eggs, these eggs have many wonderful nutrients that are anti-inflammatory and rich in protein as well. For a delicious vegetable frittata recipe, visit my website, www.bettereatingcoach.com/recipes.
So remember to begin your day right and allow your body to be at its maximum potential! Bon Appetit!
© Geri Wohl, Better Eating Coach