Why You Shouldn't Skip Breakfast
What did you have for breakfast this morning? If your answer is “nothing”, you’re one of the 25% of Americans who skip breakfast every morning. Unfortunately, this also means you’re missing out on key health benefits- like decreased risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease, and improved energy and concentration throughout the day.
In this blog, we’ll break down the benefits of breakfast and give easy examples of what your ideal breakfast should be.
So, what’s so important about breakfast?
We’ve all heard a million times that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But why is breakfast lauded as so? Well, research has found that eating breakfast daily is linked with a number of health benefits. Below are 5 of the best breakfast benefits:
1. Promotes heart health:
A 2019 study observed around 7,000 adults ages 40-75 and found that skipping breakfast increases the risk of death from cardiovascular disease, while eating breakfast promotes heart health. The researchers suggested several different explanations for why breakfast can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease:
If you don’t eat when you first wake up, this leads to greater hunger later in the day, causing overeating and insulin resistance. Ongoing insulin resistance can lead to Type 2 diabetes, which is a risk factor for heart disease.
Skipping breakfast can lead to elevated blood pressure in the morning. Heightened blood pressure is another risk factor for heart disease. On the other hand, eating in the morning can lead to lower blood pressure.
Not eating breakfast can increase cholesterol levels, which have been clearly linked to heart disease.
Skipping breakfast may also be linked to overall unhealthy food and lifestyle choices.
2. Lowers your risk of type II diabetes:
As touched on above, eating breakfast works to regulate insulin levels throughout the day. Fluctuating insulin levels can contribute to the development of diabetes. Studies have found that people under the age of 65 who skip breakfast even a few times per week are 28% more likely to develop diabetes than those who consume breakfast regularly.
3. Boosts your brain function throughout the day:
Studies have found that eating breakfast can improve concentration, memory, alertness, and energy throughout the day. This is because eating breakfast will raise blood sugar levels and help keep them steady throughout the day. This can also help to improve mood.
4. Helps keep your weight down:
While breaking your fast early in the morning may seem counterintuitive to weight loss, the opposite is true. Many studies have found a link between skipping breakfast and an increased risk of being overweight or obese. This is likely for several reasons:
Eating in the morning will fill you up, meaning that you’re less likely to experience hunger pangs throughout the day.
A hearty breakfast may also prevent you from snacking on high-energy, high-fat foods throughout the day.
Eating breakfast has also been linked to better nutrient intake throughout the day, which can help decrease your risk of obesity.
5. Lowers stress levels
A 2019 study found that breakfast eaters are 47% less likely to experience stress and anxiety than breakfast skippers. Moreover, a second study found that women who skip breakfast show an increase in cortisol levels. This is because, when you eat breakfast, you’re refilling your liver’s glycogen levels. This glycogen will allow cortisol to decrease. However, if you skip breakfast, cortisol levels will continue to increase to maintain blood glucose levels. This can eventually lead to insulin resistance and type II diabetes. Eating a healthy breakfast is a great way to lower cortisol levels and ensure a less stressful day.
What should you be eating for breakfast?
Unfortunately, eating a sugary bowl of cereal will not garner the great benefits listed above. Instead, your breakfast should follow some guidelines to ensure the best benefits. These guidelines are listed below:
Aim for a nice mix of carbs, unsaturated fat, and proteins. Having a mix of nutrients at breakfast will ensure healthy energy, fullness, and blood sugar levels until lunch. Roughly, this should be around 20 grams of protein, 8-10 grams of fiber, and 10-15 grams of unsaturated fats. This totals around 300-350 calories. But as usual, don’t pay too much attention to the numbers. Instead, try to find a balance that has the best results for you!
Pay extra attention to what kind of protein you’re consuming. Many Americans eat more than enough protein throughout the day, but they don’t get enough at breakfast. Moreover, when Americans do eat protein with breakfast, they reach for sausage or bacon. These foods, while delicious, are also high in saturated fats and can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Your body needs around 25-35 grams of protein per meal to help maintain muscle mass, metabolism, and physical strength. However, your body cannot use more than 35 grams of protein per meal. If you consume more protein in one sitting, this will either be stored as fat, excreted, or used for energy. So, consuming your protein at breakfast is even more vital, as you cannot make up that protein later.
Don’t forget the forgotten nutrients. The forgotten nutrients include calcium, vitamin D, fiber, and potassium. They’re known as the forgotten nutrients because most Americans are deficient. Over time, too little of these nutrients can lead to high blood pressure, weak bones, poor gut health, and more health problems. You can find calcium, vitamin D, and potassium in fortified cow’s milk. Bananas and citrus contain potassium. And oats are rich in fiber. Including these nutrients at breakfast can help ensure you’re not deficient.
Make breakfast into what you want it to be! Breakfast doesn’t have to be eggs and oats with a side of milk. Nor does it have to be first thing in the morning. If you prefer to get in a workout before your first meal of the day- go for it! Moreover, if you’d rather eat last night’s leftovers instead of a bowl of yogurt- have it your way! The important thing is to get a healthy mix of nutrients to set you up for a great day.
Healthy breakfast examples:
Here are 12 of our favorite breakfast options:
Greek Yogurt with Honey and Walnuts: Top Greek yogurt with honey and walnuts for a protein-rich and satisfying breakfast.
Oatmeal: Cooked with milk or water, topped with nuts, seeds, fresh or dried fruits, and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup.
Frittata: Whisk together eggs, sautéed vegetables like zucchini, tomatoes, and onions, and herbs like oregano and thyme. Bake in the oven until set and golden brown.
Smoothie Bowl: Blend frozen fruit, almond milk, and protein powder until thick and creamy, then top with granola, fresh fruit, and nuts.
Veggie Omelette: Whisk together eggs and sautéed veggies like spinach, mushrooms, and bell peppers for a high-protein and low-carb breakfast.
Quinoa Bowl: Cook quinoa, top with roasted vegetables, a fried egg, and a dollop of avocado or hummus.
Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Toast: Top gluten-free bread with cream cheese, smoked salmon, and fresh herbs like dill or chives.
Chia Seed Pudding: Mix chia seeds with almond milk, vanilla extract, and a touch of honey, then let it sit overnight in the fridge for a healthy breakfast pudding.
Banana Pancakes: Mash a ripe banana with egg, cinnamon, and a scoop of protein powder for a low-carb and high-protein pancake.
Gluten-free Granola: Mix together gluten-free oats, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit, and bake until golden brown. Serve with almond milk or Greek yogurt.
Mediterranean Breakfast Plate: Serve gluten-free bread with sliced tomatoes, cucumber, olives, feta cheese, and a hard-boiled egg for a balanced and flavorful breakfast.
Almond Flour Pancakes: Mix together almond flour, eggs, almond milk, and baking powder for a gluten-free and high-protein pancake. Top with fresh fruit and honey.
The bottom line when it comes to your breakfast is that it's important to find a way to make breakfast work for you! And, while eating a nutrient-filled breakfast is one part of the equation, in order to optimize your health and nutrition, the Johnson Center recommends nutrigenomic testing. This testing can also look at your detoxification pathways to make sure that you are able to remove the organophosphates and other toxins.
Through DNA testing, we can precisely identify the patterns and imbalances of your unique metabolism and use nutrients to suppress the expression of disease, illness, and other unhealthy patterns. If you're interested in genomic testing, click here to learn more! Or contact our office at email@example.com.
The Johnson Center for Health services patients in person in our Blacksburg and Virginia Beach / Norfolk locations. We also offer telemedicine for residents of Virginia and North Carolina!