It’s called “break-fast” for a reason. That first meal of the day is our “break” from the evening’s “fast.” A timely breakfast is critical because our blood glucose is running low by the time we wake up in the morning. While much of our body can fuel itself on fat-- including our heart and other muscles -- our brain and red blood cells demand glucose and only glucose!
By the time we wake up in the morning, our body has burned through dinner and our liver glycogen stores (which are a quick source of glucose) and is on the search for another glucose source. And do you know where it finds that source? No, not in your fat cells, unfortunately. Fat can’t effectively be converted into glucose. I hate to tell you, but if you don’t eat breakfast, your body starts chewing on your lean muscle mass to meet your glucose need. Yes, that’s right, it eats the stuff you worked so hard on at the gym!
So, stop cannibalizing your lean muscle mass and eat breakfast instead! Not only will it improve your body shape, researchers have shown that eating a healthful breakfast can improve focus and concentration while reducing hunger throughout the day. Breakfast eaters tend to be leaner than those who eat most of their calories later in the day. The key is to eat an adequate breakfast – not just a nibble (which can increase your appetite).
What to eat? Pair proteins (dairy, meat, beans, nuts) and carbohydrates (bread, cereal, grain) together for an even source of energy all morning. Then, in order to meet your daily fruit and vegetable needs, add at least one fruit or vegetable to your plate. Carbohydrates provide glucose while proteins help to rebuild your body protein and keep you full longer. Make sure you add at least one fruit or vegetable to your meal in order to meet the USDA recommendations. Remember, that’s 4-10 daily servings of fruits and vegetables.
Try some of these great breakfast combinations!
- Oatmeal with skim milk, raisins, and nuts
- Peanut butter on a whole grain English muffin, topped with fresh raspberries
- Eggs, grits, and sliced tomato
- Vegetarian sausage on a whole grain roll with a banana on the side
By Dr. Jo® Lichten
Find out more about Dr. Jo’s speaking schedule and Reboot, her upcoming book, at http://www.DrJo.com/.
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.