A lot of people will tell you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. As the name suggests, it ‘breaks fast’, which is your overnight fast. In so doing, your glucose levels are replenished and your body is provided with all the necessary nutrients to ensure you have energy all day long.
Glucose is very important as it is your body’s main energy source.
Glucose is the source of energy for all of our body functions, especially the brain. The only energy the brain can use is from glucose. Glucose is also the primary source of energy for muscles, backed up by other sources if it runs out. Proteins, for example, are for building the tissues that use glucose. Fat is a storage depot as backup for when glucose runs out—however, in the case of excess glucose, fat storage remains high.
Your body breaks glucose down and then absorbs it through carbohydrates. When you wake up on the morning, you are likely to not have eaten anything for around 12 hours. This means your levels of glycogen (the stored glucose) are very low. If you allow it to drop even further, your body will start to use fatty acids instead, and this can lower your overall energy levels. Plus, it slows down your metabolism (this is why people who want to lose weight always have to eat breakfast).
Vitamins, Minerals, Nutrients, and More
When you eat breakfast, you instantly consume a large part of the daily nutrition you require. Plus, you can eat fortified foods that have added fiber, B vitamins, iron, and folate, for instance. You can only get essential nutrients from food. Your body is likely to be able to have enough energy to get from one meal to the next, but you need vitamins and minerals to stay healthy.
Vitamins and minerals are considered essential nutrients—because acting in concert, they perform hundreds of roles in the body. They help shore up bones, heal wounds, and bolster your immune system. They also convert food into energy, and repair cellular damage.
A number of studies have drawn a number of important conclusions. First of all, children who do not eat breakfast are more likely to be overweight. Secondly, not eating breakfast lowers overall mental performance. Hence, children in particular should eat breakfast so that they can study better and be able to pay attention and show an interest in their learning. Thirdly, by eating breakfast cereals that are high in fiber, fatigue can be reduced. Fourth, kids who don’t eat a proper breakfast often also make poor choices for their food intake during the rest of the day. Fifth, people who do eat breakfast have a better overall nutritional profile. Furthermore, their overall eating habits are better and they snack less because they don’t get hungry easily. Lastly, the older people get, the more likely it is that they skip breakfast.
Why Do People Skip Breakfast?
People skip breakfast for a number of different reasons.
Overall, about one out of 10 consumers—or 31 million people—skip breakfast, according to NPD’s Morning Mealscape 2011 study. The reasons why people skip breakfast are predictable—they’re not hungry or thirsty or they’re too busy or running late.
Breakfast and Avoiding Illnesses
Research into the importance of breakfast is still ongoing, because so many interesting results are brought forward all the time. What scientists have found out so far is that eating breakfast improves people’s immune systems, leaving them less likely to develop illnesses.
What was also found was that kids who eat breakfast, and therefore consume more kilojoules, are less likely to be overweight or obese. There are some theories put forward to explain this. The first is that when people eat a large meal, it is more likely that they will put on weight. Thus, it is better to consume the same amount of kilojoules or calories in smaller, more frequent meals. This is because excess kilojoules become body fat. If the glycogen storage is full, then the rest becomes fat. If people don’t eat breakfast, they are usually ravenous by lunchtime, which means they eat a relatively larger meal, with the excess calories being stored as fat.
Those who don’t eat breakfast are far more likely to snack, particularly around mid morning or mid afternoon. These snacks are usually quite unhealthy, being low in minerals, vitamins, and fibers, while being high in salt, sugar, and/or fat. People eat snacks because they start to feel lethargic since they did not have breakfast, and they need something to see them through until mealtime.
The best thing is to never skip breakfast, but if you must skip it, then make sure you snack on healthy things.
According to a study published in “The Journal of Nutrition” in February 2010, approximately 97 percent of Americans snack, getting an average of 24 percent of their calories from snacks. With snacking providing this much of the day’s calories, choosing healthy options is crucial.
While it has been determined that eating breakfast is good for everybody, there are certain cultures where it is rare for people to have it. Also, there are different types of foods that are consumed in the morning. For instance, in many Asian countries, breakfast consists of the leftovers from the previous evening’s meal. This is a nutritious breakfast, so long as the meal was cooked healthily.
Interestingly, people who have never had breakfast, or who haven’t eaten breakfast in a long time, can continue to do so if they so choose. However, they must make sure that their lunch and dinner is of high nutritional value and they must, more so than anyone else, stay away from sugary, salty, fatty snacks. Many people feel that eating something just after waking up will make them feel sick, in which case a mid-morning healthy snack is a perfect alternative.
To encourage yourself to eat breakfast, it is best to choose something that is readily available and easy to prepare. Think cereals (healthy bran, muesli, wheat biscuits, and so on), porridge, toast or bread (multi-grain or whole grain), fresh fruit, crumpets, muffins, toast toppings, yogurt, low fat milk, and fruit juices.
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