It’s often said breakfast is the most important meal of the day. In reality, your total food intake matters, but eating breakfast can set you up for success. It’s been shown to help regulate blood sugar and promote better concentration at work and in school. But between rushing to get out the door in the morning — or a simple desire to get a bit more sleep — it’s one meal that often goes uneaten. And skipping breakfast can stall your efforts to get the nutrition your body needs.
“There are more benefits to having breakfast than there are to skipping it,” says Cara Harbstreet, MS, RD, of Street Smart Nutrition. “Breakfast is an opportunity to begin the day with a balanced meal that can stabilize blood sugar and energy and regulate appetite for the rest of the day.”
She points to a recent study showing that skipping breakfast is associated with nutrient gaps and poorer diet quality among adults in the United States. That’s because breakfast foods can be nutrient-dense options, containing the essential vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber your body needs.
“Even if you aren’t feeling hungry or don’t have a desire to eat anything when you just wake up, it’s important to tune into your body and understand how eating breakfast can fuel our bodies and help us feel our best,” says Harbstreet. For some people, this might mean waiting a couple of hours after waking up before eating or even waking up slightly earlier than usual to ensure you have enough time to eat.
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She also notes that, while many people may feel tempted to skip breakfast to make up for an indulgent meal the night before or to save calories for later, this approach can contribute to an unhealthy relationship with food. “As a non-diet dietitian, I think this is a more significant negative outcome than a true nutrient deficiency, which is less likely for anyone who consumes a variety of foods in subsequent meals and snacks.”
Harbstreet says breakfast should consist of protein, fat and carbs to maximize nutrition and increase satiety. These are five of her favorite quick breakfasts.
Combine oats with milk, chopped fruit and egg to bind everything together. Bake the mixture in muffin tins for a great make-ahead option that can be easily reheated or grabbed on the way out the door. Baked oatmeal also pairs well with yogurt or nut butter, if you want to add a little something extra to your morning meal.
Combine oats, milk and yogurt, and store in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, add your favorite fruits, nuts or seeds.
CHIA PUDDING CUPS
Whisk together milk and chia seeds. Add fresh or frozen fruit and store overnight in the refrigerator. In the morning, top with nuts and your preferred toppings.
Make a big batch of hard-boiled eggs to have on hand for the week. These can easily be grabbed from the refrigerator and paired with toast and avocado or nuts and fruit. They can also be sliced and added to a breakfast sandwich or a wrap for a one-handed meal.
WHOLE-GRAIN FROZEN WAFFLES
Pop these in the toaster to make a waffle sandwich with nut butter and bananas.
Harbstreet notes that you don’t have to eat traditional breakfast foods in the morning. “Eating leftovers from the night before or using ingredients typical to lunch or dinner is still a great way to incorporate more variety, yet save time in the morning.”
Not everyone likes to eat breakfast. As long as you’re meeting your body’s nutritional needs, it’s probably OK to skip a morning meal. But there are many benefits to eating breakfast, and you’re more likely to meet your nutritional goals if you take a few minutes to eat in the morning. Breakfast doesn’t have to be an elaborate affair. Keep it easy, and you can quickly fuel up before starting your day.
Make progress every day while you work on mini fitness and nutrition goals, like walking more steps or learning to track macros. Go to “Plans” in the MyFitnessPal app for daily coaching and easy-to-follow tasks to keep you motivated.