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Why breakfast is the most important meal of the day

Whether you’re enjoying a leisurely Sunday morning or getting ready for work, it’s important to take time to eat breakfast.

“Starting your day with a nutritious breakfast kick-starts your metabolism and provides fuel for your body and brain,” says Lena Beal, M.S., RD, LD, a therapeutic dietitian at Piedmont’s Fuqua Heart Center.

Besides nutritional value, research has shown a positive link between breakfast and mental alertness and physical performance.

What happens when you skip breakfast?

“By skipping breakfast, you miss out on important nutrients that you won’t make up for later in the day,” says Beal. “And these vitamins, minerals and fiber are important for a well-balanced diet.”

A study by the American Journal of Epidemiology found that people who skipped breakfast were almost five times more likely to be obese.

And a recent study from the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that children and adolescents who skipped breakfast had a higher body mass index-for-age and a higher waist circumference than those who ate breakfast.

Eating a balanced breakfast

A balanced breakfast should include:

  • one to two servings of whole-grains or high fiber
  • one 3 ounce serving of protein-rich food
  • one serving of low-fat dairy food for calcium
  • one serving of fruits or vegetables

The whole meal should total between 300 to 400 calories. For example, eat ½ cup of wheat cereal, ½ cup of blueberries or 1 small banana and ½ cup of low-fat milk.

Tips for eating a quick and healthy breakfast

It can be difficult to find time to eat in the morning, especially if you have children or face a long commute. To prepare a quick and healthy breakfast, Beal offers the following tips:  

  • Make a breakfast menu for the month featuring a different breakfast each week.
  • Plan grocery lists and prep steps that can be done over the weekend to set the stage for the week ahead.
  • Chop, mix, and measure out mix-ins so they’re ready to grab and go.
  • Cut up fresh fruit the night before and drizzle with lemon juice to prevent them from browning over night or on the way to work.

For more helpful, healthful tips, click here

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