Breakfast is important for energy and concentration. Ok, so this is not exactly a newsflash but Australians are not exactly embracing the message.
Alarmingly one in four children and about one in four adults are going to work or school hungry, despite the health benefits.
Find out below why you should find make time for breakfast and why skipping it could be sabotaging your weight loss efforts.
Boost your nutrient intake
Research shows that breakfast eaters tend to have better diets overall than those who skip breakfast.
Part of the reason may because breakfast skippers are likely to opt for a sugar hit (think coffee or chocolate) as their energy levels take a nose dive.
Reaching for a sugary snack will only send your blood sugar levels plummeting further, leaving you even more hungry by lunchtime, and more prone to making more unhealthy, nutrient poor choices.
A healthy breakfast of whole-grains, with eggs or dairy and fruit can supply you with many essential nutrients, including B group vitamins, Vitamin C, calcium, iron, and up to a quarter of your daily fibre needs (30g).
This is especially important for children who need these essential vitamins and minerals for health development.
Boost your energy and concentration!
Breakfast is the first chance the body has to refuel its glucose levels, also known as blood sugar, after 8 to 12 hours without a meal.
Glucose is essential for brain function, and is the main energy source of your body.
No wonder you feel tired and irritable without a bite to eat in the morning. E
vidence suggests that mental activity including memory, alertness and concentration can be improved by eating high energy foods early in the day.
Again this is especially beneficial for children, with studies showing that kids who eat breakfast achieve higher grades since they can concentrate better, are not hungry, and are overall more alert and focused at school.
Boost your metabolism
Breakfast is called ‘break-fast’ for a reason because it literally means breaking the fast between last night and today.
When you go for long periods of time without eating, your body thinks there’s a famine and start to conserve energy instead of burning it.
Why? Your body was built to survive and if it was truly in a famine, conserving energy would be the only way to ensure survival.
Obviously this is exactly the opposite of what you want to happen!
Eating breakfast will kick-start your ‘metabolism furnace’, to help the body to convert the nutrients in food to energy and rev-up the calorie burn!
Maintain your weight
Research indicates that people who eat breakfast are more likely to be able to maintain a healthy weight.
In addition to boosting your metabolism, a breakfast high in fibre and protein, and low in GI may help weight maintenance by keeping you fuller for longer.
Therefore in theory, you should be less likely to give into the naughty temptations of the vending machine!
The ironic thing is that people who skip breakfast often in an attempt to lose weight are more likely to gain weight!
Evidence of this was found in a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2005), which found that women who skipped breakfast often for weight loss purposes ate 100 more calories a day than breakfast eaters.
The same goes for children- those who skip breakfast are more likely to get hungry and snack on all the wrong things, contributing to an increased risk in obesity.
Skip breakfast and you are likely to experience cravings later in the day (as discussed above), which can lead to overeating convenient junk food.
Team a good breakfast with several, small meals throughout the day to help keep cravings at bay all day!
What is a healthy breakfast?
According to the Dieticians Association of Australia, it is one which provides a variety of foods, is low in saturated fat, high in carbohydrates, contains fibre and provides vitamins and minerals. Smart choices include:
- A bowl of wholegrain cereal with low fat milk and sliced fresh fruit.
- Fresh fruit and yoghurt with some wholegrain toast.
- Whole-grain pancakes topped with fruit and yoghurt
- Poached or boiled eggs on wholegrain toast with a piece of fruit.
- Raisin toast spread with ricotta cheese, and a piece of fruit
- According to a recent Choice review of 152 breakfast cereals, the top 10 healthiest cereals are (in alphabetical order): Abundant Earth Organic Puffed Corn, Abundant Earth Organic Puffed Rice, Abundant Earth Puffed Millet, Freedom Foods Free from Gluten Rice Puffs with Psyllium, Generic wheat biscuits, Kellogg’s Wholegrain Mini-Wheats 5 Grains, Sanitarium Puffed Wheat, Sanitarium Weet-Bix, Sanitarium Weet-Bix Kids and Uncle Tobys Shredded Wheat.
- Opt for wholegrain cereals with more than 3 grams of fibre per serving, less than 27g of sugar per 100g and less than 400mg of sodium per 100g. Read the ingredients in cereals carefully. Wholegrain should be among the first ingredients on the list.