We’ve all heard the saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and there is some truth behind this saying. Let’s dive into why you should prioritize a balanced breakfast and how this is going to set the tone for the rest of your day.
What the research says
Studies suggest that adult breakfast skippers may be at a greater risk for obesity and weight gain, while breakfast eaters tend to have healthier weights. Kids and teens who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight, too. And, according to findings from the National Weight Control Registry, almost eight in 10 adults who maintain a 30-plus pound weight loss for at least a year eat breakfast every day
Breakfast consumption is associated with positive outcomes for diet quality, micronutrient intake, weight status and lifestyle factors. Breakfast has been suggested to positively affect learning in children in terms of behavior, cognitive, and school performance.
What makes a balanced breakfast?
For the most nutritious breakfast, choose 2-3 whole, unprocessed foods from each of the five food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy. Try to include proteins from foods like yogurts, eggs, nuts and seeds or legumes. Also ,try to include complex carbohydrates such as whole fruits and vegetables, and whole grains (i.e. oatmeal) that provide fiber and will help you feel full longer.
What foods should you limit?
Processed cereals with a high level of added sugar or pastries which contain a lot of added sugars and little nutritional value, as well as breakfast meats such as sausage and bacon which have been shown to increase risk of some cancers when eaten regularly, and which are also high in saturated fats, which increases risk of heart disease.
Examples of a balanced breakfast:
- Oatmeal, blueberries, and flax/chia seeds
- Whole wheat toast, peanut butter, and bananas
- Whole wheat toast, egg, and avocado
- Greek yogurt, berries, honey, and nuts
Tips for building a balanced breakfast
Tip 1: Build a Balanced Breakfast Using Foods from 2-3 Different Food Groups
A great rule of thumb to creating a balanced breakfast is to build your meal using foods from three different food groups whenever possible. Eating a variety of simple, minimally-processed whole foods at breakfast, improves diet quality and closes nutrient gaps. Including foods with protein, fiber and fat provides satiety as well as balanced nutrition.
Tip 2: Keep It Simple
While it is tempting to drink a cup of coffee and skip breakfast, it is important to start the day with healthy and nourishing food. You don’t need to keep up with the cooking shows or fancy Instagram inspirational meals—a grab-and-go breakfast can get the job done.
A banana, yogurt and whole grain crackers are an easy way to get nutrients and can be eaten on the go, and they can be pre-packed the night before if time is a challenge. A peanut butter and banana sandwich is another simple low cost meal that can be prepared in minutes. A breakfast burrito is another option that can be thrown together quickly using leftover beans, rice and meat. Add some salsa, chopped veggies, shredded cheese or any combination of those foods and fold into a tortilla. Breakfast doesn’t have to be complicated to be delicious.
Tip 3: Eat Dinner for Breakfast
The morning meal doesn’t have to be confined to breakfast foods. Think outside the box and don’t be afraid to make non-traditional breakfast foods your first meal.
Leftovers are always fair game. They can be heated up and consumed as-is, or transformed into something fresh and new.
Tip 4: Plan Ahead
It is always easier said than done, but spending a few minutes in the evening preparing simple-to-make or grab-and-go breakfasts can be a lifesaver in the morning when every second counts. Pre-cut and package fruit, make your peanut butter and banana sandwich, add your favorite smoothie mix in storage container and take your blender out the night before—whatever your favorite breakfast meal is, with a bit of planning the night before, anything is possible.