February 18, 2013

Why You Should Eat Breakfast

eat breakfastYou Don’t Eat Breakfast?

Are you one of those individuals who doesn’t eat breakfast? You are not alone if you skip breakfast. According to a 2011 survey by the NPD Group 31 million Americans do not eat breakfast. This is about 10% of the population which is better than I would have predicted.

I would have guessed that more than 10% don’t eat breakfast. NPD Group concluded that 67% of the meals eaten for breakfast were “healthy” making breakfast the most healthy meal eaten throughout the day. But is breakfast really the most healthy meal consumed in the day?  We’ll get back to that.

But, first the two main reasons given for not eating breakfast were:

  • not being hungry in the morning
  • not having enough time to eat breakfast

What’s the Big Deal if You Don’t Eat Breakfast?

You may have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Why is that? Eating breakfast has many health benefits. First, your body has gone several hours without food by the time you wake up. Your body needs energy to get the day going. There’s a reason why we call breakfast “breakfast”. It’s to break the fast to prepare your brain and body for the day by supplying them with energy and nutrients.

Eating breakfast does the following:

  • stimulates your metabolism
  • prevents over eating later in the day
  • increases alertness and energy levels
  • is associated with healthier food choices and health habits
  • is associated with better weight control

When we skip a meal we tend to compensate by over eating at the next meal. Instead of having a relatively steady flow of calories by eating three square meals and a couple of snacks, we bombard our bodies with a flood of calories at one time if we skip meals during the day. This leads to fluctuating and rapid changes in blood sugar levels leading to feelings of hunger and fatigue as well as mood changes.

When we go any length of time without eating the body will slow its metabolism to preserve stored calories. The body doesn’t know when you plan on eating next so it takes steps to preserve its energy stores by slowing the body and brain down by slowing metabolism. This leads to sluggish thinking and a loss of pep. By eating breakfast you actually jumpstart your metabolism.

What’s a Healthy Breakfast?

The NPD Group survey discovered that approximately 32% of the breakfast meals consisted of either hot or cold cereal, 30% consisted of bread, 10% containing eggs/omelettes, and 28% other foods. See any problem there? Most breakfast meals eaten are carbohydrate heavy. When eating carbs the goal is to eat low-glycemic ones that do not spike blood glucose and insulin. Insulin is a fattening hormone. And, it’s desirable to not eat carbs alone which is probably not occurring among breakfast eaters.

If you are going to eat a cereal pick on that is 100% whole grain, has no hydrogenated oils, has at least 5 grams of fiber per serving, and has no more than 10 grams of sugar per serving. The fiber will delay the absorption of the sugar blunting the rise in blood glucose and insulin. This is the same reason you want to eat carbs with a protein or fat source.

Read the food labels of granolas carefully – some are loaded with sugar.

As for the breads – white bread is the worst choice – which is what most school kids eat. Rye, pumpernickel, whole grain, and sourdough are better choices.

Fruit juices? They must be healthy. Not really. Fruit juices are high in sugar, too. If you have to have juice dilute it with water and add some protein powder, and/or take some fiber along with. The fiber delays the absorption of sugar. That’s why eating fruits whole is healthier – they naturally contain fiber.

In my opinion, the 10% eating the eggs/omelettes in the NPD Group survey were the ones eating the healthier breakfast.

Eat breakfast, but avoid high glycemic carbs.

See related articles.

Breakfast Foods To Avoid

They’re Incredible: Egg Nutrition Facts

Low Glycemic Foods

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Dr. Joe Jacko

Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio at Grandview Primary Care. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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