When you wake up in the morning, your stomach is running on empty. In order to replenish your energy and to stimulate your metabolism, it is essential to “break” your fast – ideally with energy that will sustain you until lunch. 4 in 10 Canadians report not eating breakfast every day. 42% of them say they are just not hungry and 38% of them blame a lack of time.
Starting your day with a healthy, protein-rich breakfast will:
1. Provide energy to keep you motivated and engaged in what you are doing.
2. Increase alertness and improve memory.
3. Prevent sugar cravings, unhealthy binges, and overeating throughout the day.
4. Support a healthy metabolism.
When you skip breakfast, you send a message to your brain that you are starving. Your metabolism then responds by slowing down the process of burning calories in order to conserve energy. This can make losing excess weight or maintaining a healthy weight difficult.
Why you shouldn’t send your kids to school on an empty stomach:
Breakfast is particularly important for school aged children because studies suggest that 60% of learning happens before lunch. A 2016 study published in The Review of Economics and Statistics suggests that students tend to be more productive in the morning than they are in the afternoon, especially in math. According to Breakfast Club Canada, when children eat a balanced meal in a positive stimulating environment, there are marked improvements in:
• behaviour and concentration;
• academic performance;
• social skills;
• self-confidence and the ability to interact with peers and adults;
• overall interest in the subjects being taught; and
• incidents of bullying.
Dietitian tips for building healthier breakfasts:
What you eat for breakfast matters. In fact, research from the University of Missouri and Biofortis Clinical Research found that when women consume high-protein breakfasts, they maintain better glucose and insulin control than with lower protein or no-protein breakfasts. Another study published in The Journal of Nutrition concluded that reducing the glycemix index and increasing the fiber content in breakfast foods benefit metabolic health.
Use the following as a guide to building healthier breakfasts:
Include a healthy protein source such as 1/2 cup of cottage cheese; 3/4 cup plain yogurt or 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt which is higher in protein; 50 grams of cheese (<20% m.f.); 50 grams of lean unprocessed meat; 1 egg; 2 tablespoons 100% natural nut or seed butter; 1/4 cup unsalted nuts; or 1/2 cup softened tofu (great as a substitute for eggs in a vegan scramble).
You should aim to eat a variety of foods from every colour category, every day. Include whole fruit and veggies at breakfast such as 1 whole fresh fruit or 1/2 cup unsweetened frozen fruit or berries; 1/2 cup whole fruit salad (not the canned kind soaking in sugary syrup); 1/4 cup no-sugar-added dried fruit; or 1 cup sliced tomato, cucumber, peppers, greens or other.
Support digestive health by eating more fibre. At breakfast include fibre sources such as a slice of whole grain bread; 30 grams of #sugarfree, whole grain, fibre-rich cereal; 1/2 cup unsweetened whole oats (not instant); or 1 small homemade bran muffin that is low in sugar.
Breakfast foods that are high in sugar or glycemic load should be avoided or consumed only occasionally (click here to learn more about the connection between refined sugar and food addiction). These foods include pastries (croissants, Danishes, donuts, etc.); white bread; cereals that have added sugar and low fibre content; fruit salad in syrup, fruit juice, or fruit sauces like apple sauce (opt for whole fruit instead); honey, jam, maple syrup, Nutella and other sugary spreads; high-sodium foods like smoked salmon, processed meats and bacon (if you enjoy these foods look for low sodium and nitrite-free versions, and enjoy in healthy moderation).
Dietitian's Tip: For extra fibre, micro nutrients, and omega-3 fatty acids, add one of the following to your cereal, yogurt, smoothie or sprinkle directly on toast: 1 tbsp. ground flaxseeds, 1 tbsp. chia seeds or 1 tbsp. hemp seeds.
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