Starting Your Day Off Right: Breakfast!

While you may not be hungry first thing in the morning, forcing yourself to eat or drink something is one of the most beneficial things you can do... Learn more about why breakfast is so important!

I'm sure you've heard your grandma or mother calling you more than once to come and eat some oatmeal while you lazily wish you could just stay in your bed.

At the time, you may have stuck your nose up at it, telling her you're not hungry and that you don't eat breakfast. You probably also didn't know what a huge mistake you were making.

While you may not be hungry first thing in the morning, forcing yourself to eat or drink something is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your body at this point in the day.

You have just been sleeping for a good 6-8 hours straight (hopefully!) and in that time your body has not received any nourishment, unless of course you have a strange habit of sleepwalking to the fridge.

That is a long time for the body to go without food and you need to get something into you as soon as possible once you wake up to jump start your metabolism once again and get your body's process's moving.

Benefits Of Eating A Well-Balanced Breakfast

So, what are the benefits of eating a well-balanced breakfast?

Well, you'll have more energy throughout the morning since your body will have fuel. You wouldn't take your car out to work in the morning with an empty gas tank would you? Well you shouldn't expect your body to perform in the morning either unless you give it some energy to use.

You will have better focus and concentration levels at work or school. The brain runs primarily off of carbohydrates, so if you are running low on these stores, you will likely feel dizzy and fuzzy headed, two things that are not good for those trying to perform heavy mental tasks.

You will be less irritable. This benefit is pretty self-explanatory. I don't have to remind you how you get when you are starving and there's no food available. I'm willing to bet it's not a pretty sight.

By not putting yourself in that situation and either eating a good meal before you begin your day or packing something healthy to take with you, you won't have to worry that you'll kill one of your co-workers during the mid-morning coffee break - and don't even get me started on what caffeine and an empty stomach will do to you!

You will consume fewer calories at lunch. This is an important one for those who are currently trying to lose some body fat.

When you allow yourself to get really ravenous, you are more likely to just reach for whatever is available to satisfy your hunger, whether it is the McDonald's across the street or the bag of chips screaming at you from the vending machine outside of your office.

Not only are you likely to make unwise choices due to hunger, but you are also likely to try and cram as much food into your mouth in as short of time as possible in order to quickly satisfy the loud growl you are beginning to hear.

This means more total calories in your day, and thus slower progress at weight loss (and possibly even weight gain if you really over due it!).

You will speed your metabolism up thus helping you to burn more calories over the entire course of the day.

When the body goes for a long period of time without eating, your metabolism tends to take this as a sign that it may be a while before it gets foods again and slows down to try and conserve what fuel it does have already stored. This means that you begin burning fewer calories in all your everyday activities.

On the other hand, when you are eating every few hours, your body sees no need to slow down its processes as it knows food will likely be coming soon and will keep your metabolic engine humming along quit nicely.

So, again, going for 8 hours without food is a long enough time to risk slowing down your metabolism, adding another 4 or 5 hours to that after you've woken up is not the best course of action.

Finally, breakfast foods taste great! Okay, so you may not be the eggs and oatmeal type of person, but there are a wide variety of breakfast and non-breakfast foods that are available to you, I'm sure you can find something that will get your appetite going.

What If You're Not Hungry In The Morning?

So hopefully now you're convinced that breakfast is something you need to include in your day. But what do you do about the fact that you are simply not hungry at that time? Many adults complain about this problem and it is usually simply just a matter of training.

Your body tends to like routines and it gets used to going without food in the morning quite quickly and simply stops creating the desire for food. All it usually takes is a good week or two of eating a small breakfast to get your body wanting food first thing in the morning again and your problem will be solved.

If you are one of those people though who simply just cannot stomach food first thing, then a liquid option, such as a smoothie might be perfect for you.

Creating A Good Breakfast

There are many choices out there that are suitable for a well-rounded meal at this time in the day.

Carbohydrate Choices

Oatmeal: This is one of the best ways to start the day off. Oatmeal is a great complex carb that provides plenty of fiber to help keep your hunger at bay until lunch. Many people don't like the taste of plain oatmeal, so experiment and find ways to make it more exciting. Try adding some cinnamon and sweetener, unsweetened applesauce, sugar free syrup, frozen fruit (added before cooking), and protein powder or peanut butter to give it some protein and make it more of a complete meal.

Cold cereal: If oatmeal doesn't really turn you on, but you are a fan of cold cereal, this is a good option too. Just pay close attention to what goes into the cereal you choose. You should look for one that has at least 5 grams of fiber per serving and has minimum amounts of added sugar. As much as you loved those Lucky Charms as a kid, try and stay away from them, as they will only serve to give you unstable blood sugar levels in an hour.

Whole-wheat English muffins: These are a good choice because they aren't as dense as bagels and won't provide such a carb overload. And the little holes in the muffin make it ideal for putting peanut butter or low fat cheese over as it will melt and give a really delicious meal.

Fruits: While these won't provide quite as much staying power as the above choices will, they will still provide you with plenty of vitamins and as long as you have combined them with some protein and/or fat, will ensure you face the day with plenty of energy.

Protein Choices

Eggs: The classic breakfast food. Most people watching their weight will choose to eat only egg whites as part of their breakfast since this is the part of the egg with the most protein and least fat. It is alright though to have one or two of the yolks with your eggs as long as it still fits into your daily calorie budget.

Sausage: While this isn't the best choice, there are many turkey and lower fat sausage choices out there, so if this is what it's going to take to get you eating breakfast in the morning, have one or two along with some good carbs.

Yogurt or cottage cheese: This is a great choice as it will also help to satisfy some of your calcium needs, which is particularly important for women and growing children.

Protein powder: This is the best option for those who have trouble stomaching solid food as it will give them the amino acids their body needs to repair and rebuild it's tissues.

If you really aren't a "breakfast" foods type of person, you could also incorporate other meats into your meal such as chicken breast, turkey meat, or lean cuts of beef.

Fat Choices

Peanut butter: This is a great choice as it will provide you with the healthy fats you need and goes very well with most breakfast type of foods.

Fatty fish: If you are making an omelette as part of your morning meal, try adding some canned salmon as well to give a little extra protein and well as healthy fats.

Fish oil capsules: For those of you who tend to gravitate towards cereal and fruit for breakfast, you may have a hard time getting in the essential fats you need, so including some nutritional supplements to help you meet your fat needs would be a good bet.

Important Tips

One thing that you do want to try and stay away from when you are making your breakfast choice is the instant "to-go" breakfasts. These would be things like cereal bars, pop-tarts, or pre-sweetened oatmeal packages. These types of choices tend to be very high in sugars and are not well balanced in terms of nutrient ratios.

So, set your alarm a little earlier tonight to give yourself a little extra time tomorrow morning to make sure you leave the house well fed and ready to start your day. If you make the correct choices you will help prevent unstable blood sugars and will give yourself the energy and concentration you need to function at your best for your work or school day.

Don't make the mistake of thinking you need to choose conventional breakfast choices. Even if it's last nights leftovers that you chose to eat, eating something is always better than eating nothing, and eating something that has complex carbs, a good source of protein and some healthy fats to balance it out is an even better idea.

Most dinnertime meals if they are well thought out and cooked at home are generally quite well balanced so this may be the perfect option for you. Just experiment and find out what works for you, but most importantly, if you want to continue seeing progress in your fitness and diet goals, never leave this meal out again.