The alarm goes off and you are rushing around preparing for a busy day ahead.
Whether you have children to get ready for school, or papers to read for a morning meeting, by the time you’ve watched the news (or checked Facebook), brushed your teeth, you are already exhausted – sound familiar?
It’s no wonder so many busy people end up skipping breakfast and just grabbing an expensive coffee and maybe muffin, which is gulped down in the car on the way. But there are many reasons why this habit is bad for our health.
Benefits to health and wellbeing
If you think about it properly, when you wake up in the morning, your body has had no fuel since your evening meal the night before – potentially 12 hours beforehand – so your body is in starvation. Think about the words – “break” “fast” – literally the meal that breaks the fast you have been on while sleeping. You need the energy to kick-start your system and get your body ready for the day ahead.
A healthy breakfast should give you around 30 per cent of your daily calorie requirements. It provides us with energy, protein, calcium, iron, ﬁber and B vitamins that are needed to get you through the day. If your body doesn’t receive this ﬁrst thing, studies have shown your body is less effective at taking them on during the rest of the day.
Eating breakfast helps you lose weight
If you skip breakfast, you are not providing your body with what it needs for energy and you will soon get hungry and are more likely to then reach for high sugar, high fat snacks to compensate. People who skip breakfast tend to end up reaching for the snacks around 10 a.m., which doesn’t help if you are trying to lose weight.
In terms of time, breakfast really needs to be eaten between 45 minutes and two hours of waking up. This timing gives you the chance to put the needed fuel into your body to make sure your metabolism is balanced throughout the day. It is also the premium time for your body to absorb any of the carbohydrates you consume, which helps balance out your insulin levels. All of these aspects mean breakfast really sets your body up for the day and can help curb those mid-morning sugar cravings.
In a study, it was revealed that people who not only ate breakfast but made it their largest meal, lost almost 18 pounds over a three-month period. The other people who took part in the study, eating the same calories during the day but most of these for their evening meal, lost only around seven pounds.
Other benefits beyond weight loss
Breakfast brings a large number of health beneﬁts, providing more reasons why it really is important not to skip this particular meal.
- Brain function: Studies have proven that children who eat breakfast do better at school as they are better able to concentrate and behave well. Breakfast helps restore the levels of glucose that help with brain function. This helps improve memory, concentration, and mood, and also lowers stress levels. We all know that feeling of anger that rises up when we become hungry! Breakfast can help us avoid this.
- Energy supply: Breakfast is the ﬁrst supply of energy your body receives when you wake up, making it part of your daily required calorie intake. A good nutritious breakfast will give you all the energy you need to take you through to lunchtime and should be around 300 calories as a general rule. If you think about the energy you burn, you need the most in the morning and you need the least in the evening when you are more likely to be sitting on the sofa relaxing. Making a healthy breakfast should be your energy priority!
- Diabetes: In the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a study revealed that not eating breakfast could actually increase the risk of diabetes. The study showed that people who ate breakfast between zero and six times a week, were at far higher risk of developing the disease than those who ate breakfast daily.
Here are some ideas for quick and nutritious breakfasts
- Green smoothie: A green smoothie is made from green leafy vegetables, combined with nutrient-rich fruits, a liquid base, a healthy fat, and a source of protein. They are a convenient way to get a whole bunch of nutrients in a single meal. Super easy to make and they can be taken on the go on those hectic mornings. Prep it the night before, in the morning add your liquid, blend and you are ready to go.
- Instant porridge: There are many instant porridge sachets around now – all you need to do is add water and microwave for a few minutes and you have a healthy breakfast. Avoid the ones with added sugar and ﬂavours to keep the calories down, but a plain version provides an easy breakfast virtually instantly. Throw in some fruit to give it a natural sweetness.
- Greek-style yogurt: Go for natural plain Greek-style yogurt and add in fresh fruit for a nutritious, quick and healthy breakfast on the run. If you’re missing the sweetness of the flavoured yogurts, add a drizzle of honey or maple syrup.
- High-fiber cereal or oats: Fiber can bring health beneﬁts and help you feel full so opting for a high-ﬁber cereal will provide your body with a good start to the day. Make sure you avoid the traditional sugar-ﬁlled cereals as these will increase your calorie intake while not necessarily helping provide what your body needs. Go instead for the more natural cereals and oats that have no processing for optimal nutrition.
For many people, a busy lifestyle means rushing in the morning and skipping breakfast is a common but bad habit to get into. Breakfast can make a big difference to our health and weight, reaping the beneﬁts for us and there are many options that are quick and easy to make, from smoothies to energy bars, from cereal to scrambled eggs. Batch cook a pot of oatmeal, scrambled eggs, or a pan of energy bars, then you can have multiple breakfasts ready to go…so no more excuses!
Here is one of my favorite simple breakfast recipes that’s super easy to make the night before. In the morning, just heat it up or grab and go!
Blueberry Overnight Oats
- 3/4 cup almond milk vanilla, unsweetened
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon (adjust to taste)
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 3/4 cup oats large flake, dry
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup blueberries
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds
Mix the oats, almond milk, chia seeds, maple syrup, water, and cinnamon in a covered large glass container and place in the fridge overnight.
In the morning separate into two smaller containers or use a mason jar with lid, add berries and nuts or any additional toppings like seeds, or coconut. Keep in the fridge for two breakfasts. You can heat it up or eat it cold.
Written by Lorraine Crowe
Holistic Nutrition Coach, Pilates Instructor, and Co-owner of Body Solace Studio