Eat A Healthy Breakfast

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Let’s take a moment to remove our hats and think about the Breakfast War, truly one of our most irritating battles. One day we will erect a monument and it will read EXPERTS DISAGREE. And do they ever. When we were kids we were told that breakfast was the most important meal of the day, that it jump-starts your metabolism and helps you lose weight. Later, we discovered that it was a myth, but people still talk about it. Some people will tell you that you won’t be able to focus on your work if you don’t eat breakfast. Some people will tell you that the key to healthy living is to skip breakfast entirely.

THERE’S NO “MOST IMPORTANT MEAL OF THE DAY”

Really, they’re all important. Breakfast is just the name we give to the meal we eat after waking up. And even that might be a recent invention.

From an evolutionary point of view, we are likely not required to eat breakfast. This article makes a somewhat good point that most of our traditional breakfast food (porridge, eggs, bacon, congee, etc.) mainly rely on agricultural technology and domesticated animals, which suggests that in the primordial days “breakfast” was either leftovers from the hunt or just non-existent. So it’s not like breakfast is a special key that starts our body’s engine.

Breakfast doesn’t kickstart our metabolism, because our base metabolism more or less stays the same throughout the day. It does speed up whenever we eat anything, it’s true, but it’s not like we go into a torpor state during the night and have to start up again. (A more reliable way to speed up your metabolism is to increase your muscle mass, which increases the energy required to maintain your frame).

So can you skip breakfast? Absolutely. Should you skip breakfast? Well, maybe not.

Eating breakfast is often a good thing. It gets you calories and vitamins and provides your brain with its beloved glucose.

But you should only eat when you’re hungry. I’m often starving when I get up in the morning, but a lot of people only get hungry a few hours after waking up. Because you don’t have to jump start anything, you can wait until your body tells you it needs calories. Those are what make you energized and focused. Breakfast is just a name.

WHAT YOU SHOULDN’T BE EATING

Don’t eat the usual culprits. Too much refined sugar (i.e what’s in a lot of our breakfast cereal) will spike your blood sugar and cause you to crash later. Fried meats, like bacon, or deep-fried hash browns are tough to digest and high in fat.

Also, Rebekah Richards over at Livestrong.com recommends eating whole fruits over juice. Juice is high in sugar, lacks almost all of the nutrients you get from fruit, doesn’t fill you up, and, depending on which brand you get, is packed with additives and thickeners (Guava juice, I’m looking at you and your buddy, Indigestible Cellulose).

WHAT YOU SHOULD BE EATING

First of all, forget eating for a second. You should be drinking water. Because we lose water during the night, the first thing we often need to do in the morning is rehydrate. Being dehydrated can cause fatigue, fuzziness and short-term memory loss, which can ruin your day.

As for food, you’re going to want to take in some good carbs and some good proteins. Whole grain breads or cereals work wonders, provided you can take the time to establish that they’re made with whole flour.

White flour is essentially just empty calories and is just one step above refined sugar, in terms of the good it’s doing for your body. Fruit is also a good source of carbs, so take the time to cut up an apple or a mango.

While dairy’s not great for you, some yogurt or cottage cheese is a good way to slam in some protein without frying bacon or eggs.

Eggs are good, solid sources of protein, but they’re hard to digest and packed with cholesterol, so I recommend eating them in moderation. Honestly, a wonder breakfast is huevos rancheros: tacos filled with black beans, scrambled eggs and veggies—done right, it’s pretty much a powerhouse of proteins, carbs and vitamins.

I think breakfast is a valuable part of the day. And while we shouldn’t valorize it as being essential, it’s still an important thing to do. Just do it right, and being healthy will follow. 

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