OK, we get it, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Every kid’s TV show, health class, and helicopter parent has ingrained this into your brain. As much as the kid in you may want to resist advice from all of the above parties, they were right. If you are someone who exercises, spends time on your feet, or uses your brain in virtually any capacity during the day, you should be eating breakfast. But there’s something important that the Disney channel may have forgotten to tell you: what you eat during your first meal of the day really matters.
Why Is Breakfast So Important?
During your sleep, your metabolism slows down to recover from the activity of the day. When you fail to eat breakfast in the morning, according to Dr. David S. Ludwig of Children’s Hospital Boston, you start off with an energy deficit — you leave your body without the fuel it needs to run. But this isn’t just about your body; while your brain only takes up 2% of your body’s weight, it may be using up to 20% of your body’s energy (aka, calories from food) to run smoothly. If you’re a sufferer of half-awake work mornings, we’ve got a shocker for you: your nitro cold brew, in all of its caffeinated glory, may not be cutting it.
OK… So What Should It Look Like?
Let’s be honest: breakfast is often an out-the-door afterthought. Whether it’s a heaping bowl of sugary cereal or a processed protein bar, sometimes the only criteria for “good breakfast” is how quickly you can down it before your busy day. But what if the very thing you’re doing to speed up your morning routine is actually setting you back? A “healthy breakfast” doesn’t have to be complicated, and may be the secret to avoiding that 3pm sugar crash. We’ve broken it down to four simple rules to start your day right.
1. Pick Whole Grains
Can’t give up on cereal? You don’t have to. But try to swap out your sugary cereal for something that boasts tons of whole grains, like bran cereal or steel-cut oats. Why? High fiber, whole grain choices won’t spike your blood sugar. Plus, the high fiber content of whole grain items means they take longer to digest, which will keep you full for so much longer. Bye bye, afternoon sugar cravings.
Our Recommendation: Cacao Crisp gr8nola
Everything you love about your favorite sugary cereal, minus the sugar and plus whole grain oats. Use it as a topping on your favorite smoothie bowl, eat it with your milk of choice, or just take it by the handful as you run out the door. No excuses.
2. Healthy Fat Is Your Friend
Healthy fats don’t just keep you full for longer (like your new BFF fiber), but they also have been proven to improve cognition. Add foods with healthy fats to your breakfast, and you may just notice a game-changing difference in your day. From nut butter to olive oil, there are so many simple ways to sneak healthy fats into your favorite meals — why not give it a try?
Our Recommendation: Avocado toast
Avocados are the perfect source of healthy fats to fuel your mind and body. Save $9 and make your own avocado toast at home — we promise you can make it just as good as your favorite brunch spot. Add smoked salmon for omega-3s, or keep it simple with tasty whole grain bread and Everything seasoning.
3. Protein, Protein, Protein
Many typical American breakfasts are lower in protein — saving the protein all for later meals in the day. Instead, you should be spreading out your protein intake throughout the day for maximal muscle absorption. And just like healthy fats, a good source of protein will help keep you full for longer!
Our Recommendation: Yogurt
Whether you love traditional greek yogurt or a delicious coconut milk alternative, yogurt is a great source of protein that won’t weigh you down as you go about your day. We love topping ours with something crunchy like granola, or fresh fruit. Plus, you get the benefit of great digestion from probiotics.
4. Sit Down & Slow Down
It seems simple, but this tip may just make the difference in your breakfast. When you take breakfast out the door or on the road, you may not be processing what you’re eating. According to a study at Harvard Medical School, being distracted while eating not only makes you eat more during the meal, but makes you eat more later on in the day, too. Waking up just 10 minutes earlier and making a meal that fuels your body shouldn’t be seen as a chore — it should be seen as an act of self love.
Whether you are someone who overcomplicates breakfast or skips it entirely, it’s time to redefine the most important meal of the day. You don’t have to do a whole breakfast makeover; instead of taking away your favorite first meal foods, start by adding things in. Swap out your sugary cereal for whole grain oats or granola; add some peanut butter to your smoothie bowl; top your toast with an egg, or just take your rushed breakfast to the table. By planning out your breakfast with our 4 tips in mind, you’ll have the mental and physical energy to take on your day — and you may just find a brand new routine that you love.