You may have heard before that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but why is that? The fit team chatted with Registered Dietitian, Mariah Reil, to learn about the ins and outs of breakfast.
Why does breakfast matter and what does it do for your body? Breakfast is the first opportunity that our bodies have to fuel up again after going all night without any food. Breaking the fast (break-fast) means that breakfast is an important meal. Just like you fill up your car with gas to drive it, we need to eat breakfast in the morning so that we can start the day off with energy. Our bodies use energy in the form of blood glucose. When we wake up in the morning, our blood glucose is typically low. When we eat breakfast, we allow our blood glucose to rise and provide energy to our cells.
Expert Tip: “Try to incorporate protein, fat, and a carbohydrate with some fiber in your breakfast to make sure you (and your child) are satisfied and ready to conquer the day.”
What are some points on nutrition labels that you can look for when you don’t have a lot of time for breakfast? When searching for quick items to serve for breakfast, try to include a protein with either a carb and/or fat. It doesn’t need to be complex! Something as easy as a piece of whole-wheat toast with peanut butter and strawberries will provide protein, fiber, fat, and carbohydrates. Grab a Greek yogurt from the fridge and add a banana on the side. Give your child a choice between a cheese stick or a hard boiled egg to add to their granola bar to bump up the protein.
Do you have any advice for people who struggle to make time for breakfast? While breakfast IS important, it can also be a challenge to incorporate this meal when your morning is rushed. Incorporate quick and easy options such as those listed above for mornings when you don’t have a lot of time to prepare a meal. You can also try prepping components of breakfast one day a week and grab and go for the rest of the week (hard boiled eggs, muffins, egg cups, etc). It’s okay to incorporate convenience into your breakfast routines!
Expert Tip: Make it simple, offer choices to your kids, and focus on small things you can do to offer balanced and easy breakfasts.
Looking for a few easy, quick, and nutritious breakfast ideas? Check these out:
- Cottage cheese and berries. Opt for cottage cheese and milk with some percentage of fat so that you can be sure this isn’t a ‘fat free’ breakfast. Kids need fat to feel full and it’s also very important for their brain development!
- Easy parfaits. Plain Greek yogurt, peanut butter, banana or other fruit, sprinkle of cacao or chia/flax seed, and cinnamon or honey to taste. This breakfast is easy, fun to make with kids, and provides a winning combo of protein, fat, carbs, and fiber!
- Breakfast smoothie. Use a blender to combine a protein powder of your choice OR Greek yogurt, 1 cup frozen berries, 2 Tbsp nut butter, 1 Tbsp chia or flax seeds, a handful of spinach or other non-starchy veggie with ice, milk, or water until the mixture has reached your desired texture.
- Homemade energy balls + a glass of milk. Energy balls: Combine 2 cups old fashioned oats, ½ cup peanut butter, ½ cup of honey, dash of cinnamon, 1 Tbsp chia seeds, and ½ cup dark chocolate chips. Mix to combine, refrigerate the mixture for 15 minutes or until the mixture is firm, then portion into 1–2-inch balls.
- Overnight oats. In a jar, combine ½ cup of old-fashioned oats with ½ cup of fruit and ½ cup of plain Greek yogurt. Add 1 Tbsp nut butter and 1 Tbsp chia or flax seeds with cinnamon, honey to taste, a splash of lemon juice, and water to fill up the jar. Let sit overnight, top with more fruit/nuts when serving. Great for an on-the-go energy boost or as a quick and delicious breakfast.
- Eggs and toast. Make hard boiled eggs with whole wheat toast. Add nut butter or fruit on top.
- More cheese, please. Add some protein to a carbohydrate favorite in the morning to feel fuller for a longer time. Grab a cheese stick, along with a low-sugar muffin, and some fruit to make a well-rounded breakfast!