Breakfast Guide - Why we should eat a nutritious breakfast in the morning.
How many of you have heard the saying that "breakfast is the most important meal of the day"? More importantly, how many of you have heard the afore-mentioned saying, yet still skip breakfast or make poor and unhealthy breakfast choices each morning?
You may not be the only one, as many people, who know the benefits of eating a healthy meal, still leave the house in the morning without having consumed a filling or adequate breakfast.
Most people who skip breakfast or who eat an unhealthy one use either lack of time in the morning or weight watching as their excuse.
We will explain further on in the article that skipping breakfast in order to lose weight is a total misconception that holds absolutely no truth and in fact the opposite is true, in that skipping breakfast, in some cases, could cause you to become overweight.
What happens to our body first thing in the morning?
If you consider that when we wake up in the morning, for the majority of us, our body and brain have been without food for around 10 - 12 hours and for children it may be longer.
Our body is similar to a car in the fact that it needs fuel to run, and like a car, the better you look after your body, the longer and better it will run.
Our bodies must be fuelled several times each day so that we function efficiently and carry out our daily tasks as best we can. In the morning, after many hours without food, it is essential to refuel in order to provide the necessary nutrients and energy to get us through the first part of the day.
Why is it important to fuel our brain?
It is from our brain that messages are sent to other parts of the body to get them moving and working well.
If our brain is not fed, it will act in a slow and sluggish manner, which will impact greatly on the rest of our body.
The brain requires glucose or blood sugar to provide it with energy to function, whilst the muscles of our body need glucose to activate them and get the body working physically.
To work and feel well, our blood sugar levels must be maintained at a certain level. After long periods without food, our blood sugar levels fall, causing tiredness and irritability amongst other symptoms that occur when you need food.
The disadvantages of not having breakfast
If you deprive your body of food in the morning you may find that you feel tired, dizzy and irritable and that your concentration is poor. It may take you longer to carry out tasks or you just might not feel up to anything mentally strenuous let alone physical. You will probably find yourself snapping at people unintentionally, especially if under stress and you will no doubt soon start to feel pangs of hunger as the morning wears on.
If you don't eat anything in the morning, you will most likely find yourself craving something sweet to eat, as your body cries out for a quick fix to boost energy levels. If you are at work and it is not yet time for lunch, this is one of the moments when you may find yourself reaching for something very unhealthy such as a chocolate bar, croissant, cream cake or other unhealthy snacks. For those who are watching their weight, this is disastrous.
It is also possible that you may become so hungry that you grab twice as many unhealthy snacks to eat before lunch or even end up eating all of your packed lunch by 11.30 am.
No breakfast does not equal losing weight
Some people erroneously think that by skipping breakfast, they will reduce their calorie intake for the day and that it will help them to lose weight.
Not only are you giving your body the worst possible start in the morning and putting it under unnecessary pressure, this is also not the case.
Missing breakfast often leads to overeating at some point later on in the day, usually snacking on unhealthy foods, which are high in calories and fat. You may also become over hungry mid-morning and by lunchtime could end up eating twice as much than if you had eaten a healthy breakfast that released energy slowly throughout the day.
Three healthy square meals or six smaller meals a day should keep you going throughout, without having the need to snack in between.
The disadvantages of not eating an adequate breakfast
People who start the day with a strong, sweet cup of coffee and a croissant, Danish pastry or bowl of sugar-loaded cereal, may think that because they have eaten something, that they are starting the day well, and providing their body and brain with a good start to the morning. They may also wonder why, their energy boost doesn't last very long and why they are ravenous mid-morning even after having consumed breakfast first thing.
This is because although they did make time to have breakfast, their breakfast choice was very poor.
Caffeine, as we all know, gives you instant energy and many people feel that they cannot start the morning or even go through the day without at least several shots! In actual fact, caffeine produces adrenaline, which sends some of the body's stored glucose to the brain.
Cereals high in sugar have very little nutritional value. When eaten their high amounts of sugar are released almost immediately into the bloodstream (sugar fix) and provide an instant energy boost.
Together with the caffeine, blood sugar (glucose) levels rocket and energy levels soar.
The downside of this effect is that the energy boost is extremely short-lived. As the pancreas responds to this surge of glucose, it produces insulin in order to bring the levels back down to a reasonable amount.
This means that a few hours after this unhealthy breakfast, you are left feeling tired and hungry again and in need of another quick sugar fix.
The advantages of a healthy and nutritious breakfast
After a good night's sleep and with an empty stomach in the morning, it makes sense that the best way to start the day and to energize and revitalize your body, is with a filling, nutritious and healthy breakfast that will keep you satiated until the next meal.
Our body needs a healthy breakfast packed full of vitamins and nutrients whilst also providing energy and fuel for the brain.
The best types of foods to be eaten at breakfast are complex carbohydrates such as whole grains including oats, rye bread and millet together with a small amount of dried fruit and freshly squeezed juice.
These foods have a low GI (glycaemic index), which means that they release glucose steadily and slowly into the bloodstream, unlike the unhealthier breakfast choices mentioned earlier. Consequently, these foods will keep you fuller for longer, prevent unhealthy snacking, keep energy levels steady without dipping and provide you with essential vitamins and minerals that may be missed at other meals.
Many people like to consume some form of protein in the morning, as protein balances blood sugar levels and recent studies have also proven that concentration levels are enhanced if some form of protein in consumed during the breakfast meal.
Excellent sources of protein, which can be incorporated into the breakfast meal are eggs, fish, nuts and seeds. Eggs are a particularly rich source of choline (B vitamin), which the body converts into acetyl-choline, a neurotransmitter found in the brain.
Studies show that adults and children who eat breakfast in the morning perform better at school and at work. It is proven that with breakfast, concentration and memory improve, mental performance and problem-solving ability is better and learning ability is increased.
Not only this but studies generally prove that most people who eat breakfast manage their weight better, are not obese or overweight, have lower levels of cholesterol, which means they are less likely to suffer from heart disease and are generally in better health overall, not to mention in better mood.
In children, their concentration and productivity at school is better and they are more creative, interested and alert.
Read our article
on which foods to choose for a healthy and nutritious breakfast and try some of our nutritious breakfast ideas and see if your concentration and mood improves in the morning.