You’ve heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but is that actually true? Research says yes! According to the American Heart Association, men who skip breakfast have a 27% higher risk of heart attack or death from heart disease. Why? When someone skips breakfast, they are likely to be more hungry come lunchtime, increasing the likelihood of consuming a larger meal. This large meal will create a spike in blood sugar, which could promote high cholesterol. It’s also why eating breakfast is associated with a reduction in total fat intake and impulsive eating. If someone is full from breakfast, they will be less likely to reach for a snack.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition also observed multiple effects on cognition and memory. In one study, students had diminished speed and accuracy during a variety of memory tests.” Verbal fluency, math, and visual stimulation were all negatively affected as well. Eating breakfast not only keeps your stomach from growling throughout the morning, but it keeps you productive and decreases your risk for metabolic diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
So now that you’ve decided you should eat breakfast, the next question is: WHAT do you eat? For breakfast, you want to consume foods that are low on the glycemic index (GI). When carbohydrates are broken down in the body, they are turned into a sugar called glucose. The GI is a way of measuring how quickly your blood sugar increases, and how long it stays increased.
When you consume a high GI food, such as plain white bread, your body breaks it down rapidly, causing a blood sugar spike shortly after consuming it. This quick increase and decrease in blood sugar is what causes the “crashing” feeling after you consume a high GI food. When you consume a low GI food, such as 100% whole wheat bread, your body takes a longer time to break down the carbohydrates due to fat and fiber content, causing a slow influx in blood sugar over a much longer period of time. This means you won’t have that “crashing” feeling.
Here are some examples of low GI breakfasts that will keep you full and energized:
- Whole wheat toast and eggs with piece of fruit
- Greek yogurt with sliced banana and granola
- Whole wheat tortilla with egg, avocado, and salsa
- Whole wheat English muffin with slice of ham and egg
These ideas all sound great, but what if you’re short on time? Making your breakfast the night before is an easy way to ensure you won’t skip breakfast. One of my personal favorites is overnight oatmeal in a mason jar. This is just the base for a variety of recipes. You can be as creative as you want!
- 1/3 cup rolled oats
- 1/3 cup Greek yogurt
- 1/3 cup soy milk (or other milk)
- Any extras you would like
All you have to do is combine the ingredients and refrigerate it over night. In the morning, you can top with any other extras and enjoy. Examples of extras are sliced fruit, nuts, maple syrup, espresso, cacao nibs, pumpkin puree, granola, cinnamon, chia seeds, or peanut butter.
What’s your favorite quick and healthy breakfast item? Please share!
Ciera Mayes is currently attending Bastyr University and will be graduating this June with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition and Exercise Science. She’s also an intern with The Whole U at the University of Washington. She’s incredibly passionate about health and wellness and is looking forward to using her education to share the healing powers that food and physical activity can provide with others.