It’s early in the morning, and you catch yourself running a few minutes behind. You’re late and you’ve got a lot on your mind — your busy schedule, your commute, your next cup of coffee — everything except eating a healthy breakfast. But it bears repeating: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and a well-balanced diet should include morning meals.
Learn about why you should make time for it each morning.
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Why Is Breakfast the Most Important Meal of the Day?
It encourages healthier eating.
As the name suggests, breakfast breaks the overnight fasting period. Those who eat breakfast also tend to consume more milk and whole grains than those who skip the meal. And, as you probably know, milk offers up important calcium for your body. It also fills your stomach, helping you to avoid overeating and snacking later in the day.
It balances blood sugar levels.
Eating breakfast in the morning replenishes your supply of glucose or blood sugar to boost your energy levels and alertness. To avoid glucose fluctuations throughout the day, eating fruit, grains, and lean protein within two hours of waking up.
It kickstarts your metabolism.
Breakfast jump-starts your metabolism in the morning. Getting your metabolism working early helps burn calories throughout the day. Skipping an early meal tells your body to conserve – rather than burn – extra calories.
It boosts energy levels.
Breakfast energizes the body. People who eat an early meal show an increase in physical activity throughout their mornings than people who skip it. Activity helps prevent weight gain and fatigue.
It stimulates the brain.
Eating breakfast can actually give you a mental edge. Stable glucose levels can help your ability to focus, reason, and process information.
It promotes heart health.
10 Ideas for A Healthy Breakfast
Of course, what you eat matters as much as when you eat. Make sure you consume healthy grains, proteins, and fruits and vegetables. Here are some ideas to try:
Greek yogurt—This quick and easy source of protein and nutrients has 25 grams of protein and only 149 calories in a 1-cup serving. Top with berries, chopped fruit, and nuts to add more fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Oatmeal—A classic breakfast option that’s nutritious to boot. Full of fiber that keeps you feeling full, oatmeal is a good source of vitamins and minerals and contains about 10 grams of protein per cup. Boost protein content by mixing in some protein powder, making it with milk instead of water, or having it with a side of eggs.
Chia seeds—Extremely nutritious and a great source of fiber, just 1 ounce of chia seeds packs a walloping 10 grams of fiber per serving. Chia seeds have been shown to stave off hunger longer, help stabilize blood sugar levels, and support heart health.
Cottage cheese—Cottage cheese is a high-protein breakfast item packing an impressive 24 grams of protein into each 1-cup serving. It has been shown to be as filling and satisfying as eggs, while also adding calcium to your diet. Add fruit, tomatoes, cucumbers, chia seeds, flax seeds, or granola as a topping.
Berries—Raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries are delicious and full of antioxidants and fiber, with low calories. Fresh or frozen, berries can be added to Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, oatmeal, or a smoothie to pump up the yum factor.
Nuts—A great source of antioxidents, nuts of all types are high in magnesium, potassium, and heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. Although nuts are high in calories, their high protein, fat, and fiber contents promote fullness, which may aid in weight management. Nut intake also is linked to better heart and brain health. Top your Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or oatmeal with a spoonful or two of chopped nuts to amp up your breakfast’s nutritional value.
Whole wheat toast—This simple breakfast staple can be a quick source of fiber and complex carbs. Try sprouted grain bread for even more fiber and protein. Top your toast with any nutritious accompaniment, such as:
- Mashed avocado and chili flakes.
- Fried or scrambled eggs or egg salad.
- Sauteed tomatoes.
- Peanut butter and banana.
- Cottage cheese and strawberries.
- Sliced figs and honey,
- Sliced turkey or chicken.
Fruit—If you don’t feel like having a full meal but still need a bite to eat in the morning, try fruit. All fruits are contain good amounts of fiber and simple sugar and are relatively low in calories. Many fruits are high in vitamin C, which is an antioxidant. They also provide other vitamins and minerals that are important to good health. Eating fruits of many different colors will help ensure you get a wide variety of these nutrients. And since fruit juice lacks fiber and is higher in sugar, your best bet is to get most of your fruit in the form of whole fruit. To balance your breakfast, pair fruit with high-protein foods like eggs, Greek yogurt, or cottage cheese. Oranges, grapefruit, kiwi, papaya, cherries, grapes, cantaloupe, mango, plums, peaches, pears—all offer numerous benefits for the heart, brain, and other body systems.
Protein shakes—If you’re short on time or want to take your breakfast on the run, protein shakes or smoothies are a great option. There are many types of protein powder, but whey and pea protein are the most common. A protein shakealso makes a great post-workout meal because eating a large meal after a workout may be hard on your stomach. For a well-rounded breakfast, add a scoop of protein powder to a smoothie made with banana, frozen fruit, and milk or water. Add chia seeds for even more fiber.
The Bottom Line on Breakfast
With so many breakfast options, there’s really no excuse for skipping breakfast. Remember the best breakfast choices are high in fiber, protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .
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