Why is Breakfast the Most Important Meal of the Day?

Tasty toast, yummy eggs, nutritious cornflakes – these are the only things most of us visualise the first thing in the morning. That’s because getting up in the morning after an eight-hour sleep can leave you somewhat dizzy. So you need a good and healthy breakfast to keep you energised through the day.

breakfast

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, kids eating breakfast have a higher chance to do better in academics and stay focused longer. If you’re still wondering why breakfast is considered by experts to be the most important meal of the day, read on.

State of the body after eight hours of sleep

When you sleep, you’re in a state of complete rest and your digestive system becomes active in converting the food into energy. For this, timely consumption of food is important as that keeps the body clock running properly and ensures optimal physiological functioning. Of course, the pace at which your stomach works does slow down when you’re asleep because there is less obligation to convert food to energy, as there is hardly any physical activity involved at that time. Naturally, then, you can’t afford to skip your breakfast. A missed breakfast will leave you feeling less energetic at school or workplace.

How breakfast brings changes in your stomach?

The absence of any food consumption during the sleep period slows down energy production. Breakfast helps improve the body metabolism, and also keeps the mind well focused. This, in turn, helps in better behavior. A nutritive breakfast, packed with vitamins, minerals, and proteins, provides the necessary sugars to the body and helps improve brain functionality.

How it affects body functioning through the day?

Mood booster

A good breakfast helps keep you in good mood, thus enabling you to complete your assigned task within the scheduled time-frame. When you’re not starving and are full of healthy food, you are happy and more likely to do your tasks more efficiently.

Keeps you away from junk food

A healthy breakfast helps control the urge to consume high-calorie and fatty foods during the day. Frequent snacking leads to health problems, which you can easily avoid by having a good meal for breakfast.

Other benefits

Eating your breakfast has a lot of other important benefits for your body, including maintenance of your Body Mass Index (BMI) at an acceptable level. Of course, you need to consume select foods such as whole grains, proteins, and green vegetable and fruits. Eating such healthy food helps develop and sustain a healthy lifestyle habit. According to the National Health Service, “Eating breakfast has long-term health benefits. It can reduce obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.”
Whole-grain foods contain higher fiber and have a lower glycemic index as compared to refined carbs like white bread, sugary drinks and the like, thus helping in the prevention of diabetes or keeping it in check. To keep your sugar under control, make sure that you choose cereals with minimal sugar.

What nutrients should your breakfast give you?

According to estimates by the University of Kentucky, breakfast contributes to 25% to 33% of your daily caloric intake. The number of calories you really need depends on your age, gender, and profession. Your breakfast should be wholesome, giving carbs, fiber, proteins and minerals in the right amounts to ensure a healthy lifestyle.

Carbohydrates

Whole grains are the best source of carbohydrates. Whole grains contain fiber, minerals and vitamins. Good examples of whole grains include oatmeal, breads, whole grain cereals, wholegrain English muffins or low-fat granola.

Vitamin B

Vitamin B complex, comprising riboflavin, thiamine, and niacin, helps generate energy. Half a cup of oatmeal with half a piece of banana (rich in potassium) can provide 5.5 grams of fiber from a single serving. This constitutes 14% of daily recommended fiber for men (22% for women).

Fiber

Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are an important source of fiber. The daily recommended amount of fiber for men is 38 grams, besides 25 grams of soluble fiber. Soluble fibers have cholesterol-lowering effects. Oats, beans, peanuts, and many fruits and vegetables contain soluble fiber.  Insoluble fiber is beneficial in preventing constipation and is found in whole grains, fruits, seeds and vegetables.
One serving of oats can give you 4 grams of fiber, apple gives 4.4 grams, oranges 3.1 grams and nuts 3-4 grams of fiber.  You may also have whole-wheat toast garnished with banana slices and peanut butter. 

Protein   

Protein is an essential nutrient along with carbs to keep you bellyful. A cup of skimmed milk can give you 6 grams of protein and 83 calories, and is a great recipe for breakfast. As for eggs, each egg gives 6 grams of protein, along with 186 grams of cholesterol and 83 calories. The cholesterol in eggs is 62% of daily recommended amount. Avoid higher fats because they are associated with risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

Calcium

Calcium is one of the building blocks of bone tissue and helps maintain bone strength. As per your age and gender, you need close to 1,000 mg of calcium daily. Yogurt, cheese, and milk are excellent sources of calcium. A smoothie of fruit and skim milk provides 306 mg of calcium.
Wholegrain toast, along with egg and mozzarella cheese, provides 207 mg of calcium. Likewise, eight ounces of fat-free yogurt contain 452 mg of calcium.

calcium

 

Vitamin C

Make sure to drink fresh fruit juice, which gives you Vitamin C. Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron.

vitamin-c

A few studies that support the importance of breakfast

According to research, students who are physically energetic are more likely to secure higher grades, better school attendance and have better cognitive performance (e.g. memory) in addition to better overall classroom performance.

Helps control weight

Multiple studies on kids and adults show that breakfast helps keep weight gain in check. According to experts eating a healthy breakfast can keep hunger under control for the whole day. Contrary to belief, a healthy breakfast doesn’t lead to addition of calories. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that the amount of intake of calories resulting from morning fasting (not having breakfast) leads to more intake of calories for the day. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2016/02/10/ajcn.115.122044.abstrac

Better cognitive ability

According to research by Scholey AB, Harper S, Kennedy DO, breakfast can remarkably affect the cognitive performance among school children. This is because the absence of carbs consumption in the morning leads to decline in blood glucose levels, which affects the ability to focus and perform mental tasks. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11495663

Breakfast, the most satisfying meal

According to de Castro JM in National Center for Biotechnology Information, the time of the day when food is consumed is related to the total intake of food in a way such that the early intake of food would reduce the total intake for the day. That is, the time of the day (morning, midday, evening) when food is consumed affects the total intake of food for the day.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14704301

A few popular breakfast meals

Muesli

Muesli is one of the best foods if you’re looking at keeping your weight under check. It’s a great breakfast to help you avoid cholesterol and trans-fats, and is rich in nutritional value. It keeps you feeling full for a long time and helps avoid high-calorie snacks.

Porridge

How to prepare

For four servings you need
Gluten free oats – two cups
Coconut milk to add delicious flavor (as opposed to dairy milk) – three cups
Pumpkins seeds – half a cup (32 grams)
Fresh lemon squeeze – one
Sunflower seeds (hulled) – half a cup (65 grams)
Coconut flakes – two tablespoons
Fresh fruit (to serve) bananas – four

Steps

  1. Mix all the ingredients in a big bowl.
  2. Preserve in the refrigerator overnight.
  3. The following morning, garnish with fresh fruit (banana slices), nuts, as you like.

Porridge

Porridge is any type of crushed grain including oats, rice, wheat or barley. This cereal is full of fiber and high protein, and aids in stabilizing blood sugar. Porridge is a rich source of soluble as well as insoluble fiber. The insoluble fiber is helpful in improving digestion, and the soluble fiber helps moderate cholesterol and prevent cancer of the heart and type two diabetes by slowing down the absorption of glucose.
Further, porridge contains nutrients such as protein, iron, zinc, magnesium, vitamin B, vitamin E, antioxidants, and phyto-chemicals that help combat chronic diseases.
Porridge is also good if you’re overweight or are obese and planning to lose weight. Fiber-rich porridge is a source of fewer calories and high in volume. This helps you stay fuller for a longer time and obviates the need to consume food. As a balanced dose of breakfast, you can consider an eight-ounce glass of low-fat milk and half a cup of blueberries.

 

How to prepare

In general, porridge is a simple food made by mixing oats with water or milk and then heating the mixture. However, you can choose other cereals as well, according to your personal preference.
For two servings you need
Water – half a liter
Medium ground oats – 70 grams
Salt – half a gram

Steps

Use a non-stick container to boil the water/milk.
Pour the oatmeal slowly into the boiling water in the container. Stir the mixture briskly with a wooden stirrer all the time. Continue stirring until it starts boiling.
Reduce flame, cover the pan and let the mixture simmer for 15 minutes.
Add salt when simmering and let it boil for 5 to 10 minutes, while continuously stirring.
The recipe becomes thick and you can pour it easily.
Serve hot in ceramic or glass bowls.

Pancake

Pancakes are yet another healthy breakfast food and are available in several varieties. Note that the pancakes at restaurants are packed with sugar, so a better and healthier option is to make them at home.
A 100-gram pancake provides 230 calories, 30 gram of carbohydrates, 6 grams of protein, 10 gram of fat. The fat includes two grams of saturated fat.
One serving of plain pancake provides 20% of daily value (DV) for calcium, 18% of daily recommended value. This is important to note that pancakes help in strengthening bones, and in building RNA and DNA.
The American breakfast of pancake comprises homemade thick pancake, mixed white syrup, and blue berries, and topped off with thin slices of bacon.

Pan-cakes

How to prepare

To make six to eight pancakes, you need
Flour – 225 grams
Milk – 300 milliliters
Baking powder – two teaspoons
Salt – Half a tablespoon
Sugar – two tablespoons
Large eggs – two
Butter – 30 grams melted and cooled

Steps

Pour all the ingredients into a blender and blend. Or you can also mix them by hand. Then add baking powder, sugar, salt, and beat the eggs and then pour the melted butter and milk.
Heat a pan on the stove. You can also use a smooth griddle.
Remember that when the upper portion of the pancake starts bubbling, you need to go for the second one. You need to cook each pancake for one minute.

There are several other breakfast foods you can consider. However, the above examples are easy, simple, nutritious, convenient and economical.

Conclusion

Breakfast is decidedly the most important meal of the day because it is the first bite of food you eat, and it rekindles the energy that you lose during your eight to ten hours of sleep. Apart from its nutrient benefits, a good and healthy breakfast helps ward off a lot of health problems by keeping you away from unhealthy snacking through the day.

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