Healthier Life: Why not to skip breakfast

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- We have all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, whether it was ingrained in your head by your parents growing up, or we see it in advertisements on TV and magazines.  But do you know why it’s the most important meal?  Breakfast is the first opportunity we have to give our body energy to perform our daily physical and mental activities.  When we wake up, we are in a fasted state so eating breakfast will bring our body’s energy and blood glucose levels back to normal. 

Since we are in this fasted state in the morning, cortisol (stress hormone) is elevated.  This causes the breakdown of muscle protein and fat to give your body glucose for energy.  For a short period of time this is okay, however the only way to stop the breakdown of muscle in the early morning is to consume a nutrient rich breakfast so your body will use food for fuel rather than muscle.

This makes it especially important to eat breakfast before an early morning workout.  Carbohydrates give our body energy and having low carbohydrate (or glucose) levels before a workout can hinder your performance and make it more likely to fatigue during a training session.  A healthy nutrient packed breakfast can give your body the amount of carbohydrate, protein, and other essential nutrients to get you through your morning workout effectively and efficiently.  

Research findings suggest that eating breakfast regularly will promote a healthy weight.  As a matter of fact, it has been shown that dieters who eat breakfast lose on average 50% more weight than dieters who skip breakfast!  Additionally, when we eat breakfast, cortisol is restored to normal levels, but if we skip breakfast it remains elevated, which will increase fat storage in the abdominal area due to higher amounts of cortisol receptors in this area.  Skipping breakfast may also cause us to overeat at other meals throughout the day, leading to an excess in overall caloric intake.

So make sure to consume a good quality breakfast each day that will provide your body with a steady long lasting source for energy.  A Frappuccino and chocolate chip muffin might sound like a delicious breakfast but it is mostly sugar and will cause blood glucose to spike, promote fat storage and cause an energy crash soon after consumption.   Instead, you want your breakfasts to include high quality fiber and protein foods.  Some examples are:  

High fiber cereal or oatmeal with fresh fruit and nuts

Medium whole wheat bagel with natural peanut butter/almond butter or avocado spread

2 egg vegetable omelet with low fat cheese and 1 piece of whole wheat toast

Plain Greek yogurt with berries and low sugar granola

Smoothie with 1 scoop of protein powder and ½ cup of fruit blended with almond/coconut milk

When reading labels always check sugar and fiber contents.  Sugar should be low, around 5 grams or less is a good rule of thumb.  Fiber should be about 1 gram of fiber for every 10 carbohydrates listed.  So for example, a piece of whole wheat bread with 20 grams of carbohydrate should have at least 2 grams of dietary fiber listed.  

You can make room for breakfast in the morning!  Plan ahead of time if your mornings are busy.  Make your breakfast the night before or prepare a whole weeks’ worth of grab and go breakfasts, like baked oatmeal muffins. If you aren’t used to eating in the early morning, start with a smaller meal and build your way up.  By eating breakfast you will have more energy, improved concentration of the mind, better mental and physical performance, and feel your best throughout the day.