Breakfast is a very important, if not the most, important meal of the day. It not only gives you the energy you need to start the day, but has other benefits such as weight control and improved performance. Studies show that a healthy breakfast in fact can give you a more nutritionally complete diet higher in nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Improved concentration in the classroom or the workplace. More strength and endurance in physical activity. And even lower cholesterol levels. (WebMD. K.M. Zelman)
Many studies sow that breakfast eaters tend to weigh less than those who skip breakfast. Why? One theory suggests that eating a healthy breakfast can, one, reduce hunger throughout the day, and two, it helps people make better food choices at other meal times. While people tend to think they can save calories by skipping breakfast, it is not a smart or effective strategy. Those who opt for this strategy are more prone to eat more at lunch and throughout the rest of the day. Hunger gets the best of those who skip breakfast. Another theory pertaining to breakfast and weight control implies that eating breakfast is a part of a healthy lifestyle that includes making wise food choices and balancing calories with exercise. Consider the successful losers followed by the National Weight Control Registry, all have lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off at least one year. Within that registry, 80% eat breakfast regularly (also followed a calorie-controlled, low-fat diet). However, you will notice in these studies linking breakfast and weight control, it is based off of a healthy breakfast. Meaning choices containing protein, veggies, and whole grains. Not meals loaded with fats and calories. Try adding lean proteins daily to your breakfast and other meals. "Protein blunts your hunger, and is the most satiating," says Purdue University researcher Wayne Campbell, PhD. While eggs are not always associated with weight loss, they may be one of the best ways to get your morning protein. Eggs contain some of the highest-quality protein.
In a study presented at the 2007 Experimental Biology meeting, researchers at Pennington Biomedical Research Center compared weight loss in women who ate either two eggs or a bagel for breakfast. The two breakfast meals were identical in calories and volume. "Compared to the bagel eaters, overweight women who ate two eggs for breakfast five times a week for eight weeks as part of a low-fat, reduced-calorie diet, lost 65% more weight, reduced waist circumference by 83%, reported higher energy levels, and had no significant difference in their blood cholesterol or triglyceride levels," reports researcher Nikhil V. Dhurandhar, PhD. Another study, reported in theJournal of the American College of Nutrition, also substantiates eggs' ability to satisfy hunger. "Both studies show that when people eat eggs at breakfast, they felt more satisfied and consumed fewer calories throughout the day, compared to those who ate a primarily carbohydrate meal like a bagel," explains Dhurandhar. Some of you may ask, what about the cholesterol in eggs? A large egg contains 75 calories, 6 grams of protein, and 212 mg of cholesterol. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), healthy people can eat an egg a day. Dhurandhar makes note that "in our study, none of the women had increases in blood lipids, confirming that healthy adults on a low-fat diet can enjoy eggs without significantly impacting their risk of heart disease". Another study, reported in Obesity Research, found that women who added lean protein to their breakfast felt less hunger during the next four hours than those who ate a breakfast without protein. All the participants lost about 18 pounds over the course of the study, but the group eating more protein - about 30% of total calories - kept more lean muscle than the group who ate the same number of calories but less protein. Experts note that lean muscle mass is more metabolically active, and thus helps with weight management.
How do you choose the right breakfast foods? A healthy breakfast should consist of a variety of foods, such as lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and low - or non-fat diary. When it comes to workout days, you should consume foods that are beneficial in fueling your body for those workouts. For example, carbohydrates should be consumed around your workout times, before and after. Carbohydrates are your body's preferred fuel choice. Meaning that you want every gram of carbs you consume to be utilized as an immediate fuel source. The main reason to consume carbohydrates post-workout is to replenish the muscle glycogen you lost during the workout. So if you tend to workout first thing in the morning then your breakfast should consist of healthy carbs along with your lean protein and veggies at least an hour beforehand to have a positive benefit on your workout. Even if you think you don't have time to eat breakfast, there are plenty of grab and go options out there to fit what you need. Some quick and healthy choices can include:
-a veggies omelet with a piece of whole wheat toast
-a whole wheat English muffin with a scrambled egg and slice of tomato and lean ham or bacon
-smoothie made with fruit, whey protein, and almond or non-fat milk or water
-oatmeal made with skim milk, raisins and nuts
Not a breakfast person? Give it a try! What's the worst that could happen besides benefit you and your workouts?
Laurie Zerfass CPT
With a Bachelor’s degree in Health, Behavior, and Exercise Sciences, Laurie graduated from the University of Delaware while concentrating on Fitness Management and Strength and Conditioning. Her passion for fitness and health stems from a background in sports, playing soccer at all levels including high school varsity, elite club teams, and at the collegiate level. Infusing her love for soccer into a career, Laurie has experience in sports conditioning, functional training, weight management, and nutrition.