There are certain health maxims that stay with you throughout your entire life—little nuggets of advice that come from parents, teachers and friends in an effort to improve your well-being. One of the most prominent and prevalent, of these is this: "breakfast is the most important meal of the day."
Even though you've doubtlessly heard this many times, how good are you about actually heeding the advice? According to the International Food Information Council, Seventy-seven percent of Americans agree breakfast is important, yet more than 50% skip breakfast due to lack of time and easy choices.
Regardless of the reasons, most experts agree that this isn't a good decision.
Why So Important?
As its name suggests, breakfast is all about breaking the fast you experienced overnight. Depending on your schedule, it may have been anywhere from 10 to 15 hours since you last ate. During that time, your metabolism has slowed down, but a morning meal signals to your metabolism that it’s time to start the day.
Skipping breakfast, then, prolongs that fast, which can decrease your mental and physical performance while depriving you of the fiber, vitamins and minerals that a good breakfast has to offer. The legendary "nutritious breakfast" will prevent this, but what exactly is a nutritious breakfast?
A Better Breakfast
The general consensus is that a hearty breakfast should account for about 25 to 30 percent of your daily calories. For the healthy, active person following the standard 2,000 calorie diet, this translates to a breakfast with roughly 500-600 calories.
But those calories can—and should—take a lot of different forms. Aim to include at least three of the following food categories from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate recommendations: fruit, vegetables, grains, protein foods and dairy.
Including complex carbohydrates, like those from whole grain foods, will prevent a blood sugar crash while keeping you fueled throughout your morning. Since nutrition experts recommend three or more servings of whole grains per day, a breakfast with quality carbohydrates also contributes to overall nutrition. A high-fiber option may also help keep you feeling full so that you don't start snacking on whatever is at hand later on.
To make sure that you don't skip or skimp on this important meal, try to plan ahead. If you're rushed in the morning and find it impossible to settle down and cook a traditional breakfast, consider some nutritious prepared options. Just remember to choose products that feature oats, nuts, dairy and fruits.
The easier it is for you to properly fuel yourself in the morning, the more likely you are to keep up that positive routine. Ultimately, finding a nutritious breakfast option that works for your schedule can make a huge difference in your overall health and fitness.