The old adage bears repeating – eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.
Put another way, nutritionists believe breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It breaks the fast, provides fuel for the body and prepares for healthy nutrient intake.
Breakfasts vary, however, and beginning your day with a meal that includes plenty of high quality protein remains the foundation for experiencing healthy benefits.
The ideal breakfast for weight loss contains 25-30 g of high-fiber, low-sugar carbohydrates. Foods such as eggs, lean meat, low-fat dairy, beans afford good choices for breakfast as well.
“If you’re too busy for breakfast, you’re probably giving up more than a meal,” says Karen Hanson, Manhattan Hy-Vee registered dietitian. “Research shows kids who eat breakfast perform better in school. And if you’re trying to lose weight, eating breakfast jump-starts your metabolism and keeps you from over-eating later.”
Children rely heavily on a consistent food intake, the dietician notes. If they miss breakfast, that period of semi-starvation before lunch can create physical, intellectual and even behavioral problems.
Kids who eat breakfast and are physically active concentrate better. They typically score higher on tests.
Keep grab-and-go items like cereal, yogurt, fruit and string cheese on hand for busy mornings. On those really rushed mornings, kids can eat in the car on the way to school or day care. It’s better than not eating at all.
Other tips include making oatmeal with milk instead of water; eating lunch, dinner or snack foods (ham and cheese sandwich, leftover veggie pizza) for breakfast; or using yogurt or low-fat milk to make breakfast smoothies.
Adults need a breakfast boost too.
“Breakfast recharges your brain and body after the overnight fast,” Hanson says. “If we skip breakfast, our body responds by increasing hunger and hanging on to calories. If you’re trying to lose weight by skipping breakfast, you’re sabotaging yourself.”
A bowl of whole-grain cereal and a banana is a quick breakfast that will keep you focused all morning. Try leftover pizza with 100 percent juice if you’re not a breakfast-food fan.
A balanced breakfast makes a big difference in overall health and well-being, Hanson says. Here are three tips for making breakfast fit into your morning routine.
Organize the night before. Set the table with bowls and spoons for cereal. Ready a blender for smoothies. Make muffin or waffle mix so it’s ready to cook in the morning.
Keep it simple with a bowl of high fiber, higher protein cereal and fruit.
Pack breakfast to go. Plan a nutritious breakfast that can be eaten in the car or on the bus. Teens might like a banana, a bag of trail mix and a carton of milk. You can also check out breakfast options at your child’s school.
A recent American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study suggests a breakfast containing 35 g protein from lean beef and eggs leads to improved appetite control and satisfaction throughout the day.
Eating breakfast results in diet quality. It sets the stage for the rest of the day while moderating appetite swings and improving vigilance and memory tasks.
John Schlageck is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas. Born and raised on a diversified farm in northwestern Kansas, his writing reflects a lifetime of experience, knowledge and passion.