Statistics show since the beginning of nutritional studies that breakfast is the one meal of the day that never should be skipped. We've been told this forever, but now it's time to find out why. OnTheSnow asked nutritionists from the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) to give us some facts and statistics as to why we should eat breakfast before we begin our day.
"Breakfast is the early-morning refueling stop for your body," explains Laura Anderson, sport dietician for the USOC. "After 8-12 hours without a meal or snack, your body needs to be replenished with fuel and fluid." Specifically-our glucose (blood sugar), glycogen (carbohydrates stored as fuel for the brain and muscles), and fluids need to be restocked, Anderson explains.
USOC athletic performance studies prove breakfast eaters tend to have more strength and endurance and sharper mental skills such as concentration, alertness, and memory. Improved mood from food can benefit an athlete by making it easier to stay calm, relaxed, motivated, and positive.
Consuming breakfast also will help those trying to lose weight. A morning meal decreases the chances of inappropriate snacking later on and throughout the day. Unnecessary snacking results in higher intake of calories and fat ultimately leading to weight gain. When we choose to eat a healthy breakfast, we also choose to make better meal choices throughout the day, the study shows.
This all sounds understandable for those of us who don't mind eating after we awake. For others who aren't in the mood to put food in our stomachs right away, the thought of a well-rounded breakfast is a harder sell.
Start small and begin with whole-grain toast and/or a piece of fruit, Anderson suggests. In a few days add more food. Choose fruit for added fiber. Fresh fruit is the best choice. There are many to choose from: oranges, grapefruits, apples, bananas, grapes, kiwis, mangos, melons, or berries. Eat two servings of fruit every morning. Canned fruit packed in juice is also a good choice. Add dried fruit to your cereal. High fiber hot cereal is the best choice, but there are several brands of cold cereal on the market high in fiber and low in sugar. Oatmeal is a favorite hot cereal.
The USOC has compiled a list of breakfast ideas for every type of eater. Print this out, post it on your refrigerator, and start your day on a full note.
- Whole-grain cereal with fruit and 8 ounces of milk or yogurt.
- Waffles with peanut butter and a fruit.
- Oatmeal made with milk and dried fruit/nuts.
- One egg (not fried) and two pieces whole-grain toast with fruit.
- Smoothie made with milk/yogurt, fruit, honey, oats, ground flax, peanut butter, etc.
- Pancakes with fruit, maple syrup, and a glass of milk.
- Bagel (whole wheat or whole grain is best) with peanut butter, fruit spread, or applesauce.
- English muffin topped with melted cheese and tomato.
- Omelet made with vegetables and a piece of whole grain toast.
- Substitute tofu for eggs for a vegetable scramble with a twist.
Keep in mind that these recipes are geared towards athletes. Scale them down for individual caloric needs. The sky's the limit. The only limitation is your imagination. Make it a priority: Eat breakfast.