The Benefits of Breakfast


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For a different type of New Year’s Resolution, have you ever thought about not taking something out of your diet…but instead of adding something to your daily dietary regimen?  Try adding breakfast as part of your daily life.  As a trainer or athlete you may already be consuming breakfast, do all of your clients? Do they fully understand the importance of breakfast?  The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics came out with an extensive article on the benefits of breakfast, defining breakfast and its role.  Here are the highlights to ponder when working with clients of all ages.

Even though most people know the importance of breakfast, such as the nutritional benefits and long term improvement in overall diet quality, it is still the most missed meal of the day for all age groups.  There is some research that eating a well-balanced daily breakfast can improve weight management, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes, but the research at this time is inconclusive.

It has been noted, those that do consume breakfast on a regular basis tend to have a more positive functional, nutritional and metabolic outcome.  Those that eat breakfast tend to have a healthier lifestyle and partake in other health promoting behaviors such as regular forms of exercise and other health related positive habits, rather than partaking in non-healthy habits such as smoking.

For individuals who consume breakfast on a regular basis (age is irrelevant) consistently had higher intakes of calcium, potassium, dietary fiber, folate, iron, Vitamins A, B-6, C, B-12, thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc.  There is a correlation between those that eat breakfast having a lower consumption of fat and cholesterol.

Some choices for protein are lean meats, an egg, low fat yogurt, a fiber rich food, granola with low fat milk.  There are meatless protein choices such as scrambled tofu with vegetables, low fat cheese, and salsa.  Take a whole grain or corn tortilla and spread some black beans and salsa on it for a change.  Blend a smoothie with yogurt, fruit and vegetables for a start to the day.  Too often we prepare the same breakfast and it will get boring, so be creative.

Not all breakfast items and breakfasts are created equal; therefore in this article the discussion is around a healthy breakfast not a pre-packaged item.  Continued experimental studies find that daily consumption of breakfast support better appetite control and more stable blood sugar levels if the food was rich in fiber, nutrient rich whole grains, fruit, and included dairy that is low in fat.  There is a reduced energy intake of food later in the day and increase satiety.  A breakfast with a moderate amount of protein (35 g.) might be associated with improved food regulation, including a reduction in evening snacking.  Meal time, especially breakfast skipping has been linked to increased appetite over time as well as a risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

For children and adolescents breakfast consumption produces higher test scores, improves memory/attention span, attendance at school and overall mood.

The idea of DIET has developed a great deal of negative connotation. Most people think of diets are restrictive and tedious. You may have superior results in weight management if you begin to educate your clients on natural eating and the detriment of eating overly cooked overly processed and fried foods.

Here are a few examples of healthy vs not-so-healthy breakfast options.

Choose This, Not That

Hard Boiled Eggs vs. Egg Fried in Butter

Egg Fried in Olive Oil vs. Egg Fried in Margarine or Hydrogenated Oil

Irish Steele Cut Oats vs. Instant Oatmeal

Cheerios or Bran Flakes vs. Fruit Loops or Cocoa Puffs

Natural –No Sugar Added Grains vs. Sugary Processed Grains

Fruit Smoothies Made with Fruit/Protein Powder vs. Fruity Sugary Processed Grains or Drinks

Natural Made Breakfast Items vs. Processed Fast Food Items

Natural –No/Low Processed Meats vs. Processed Meats

Whole Grain Breads vs. Donuts, Muffins, Pop-Tarts

Natural Peanut Butter vs. Processed/Hydrogenated Peanut Butter

It is highly recommended that breakfast and all of your meals meet the following targets:

Protein: 20%

Carbohydrates (complex): 65%

Fats: 15%

Simple Carbs (Sugars) no more than 10% of total carbohydrates

There is significant research showing that meals containing protein, carbohydrates and fat increase the absorption of macro and micro nutrients.

Eating Healthy should be for life, not something to do for a few weeks when you are getting ready for a beach vacation.

Good Luck!

Happy New Year and our best wishes that 2015 be your best, brightest and happiest year ever!

Dr. Jim Bell and all of us at the IFPA!

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