If you want to lose weight, for one, breakfast may not actually be that important after all. A recent meta-analysis in the BMJ investigating the effect of breakfast on weight and energy intake found that eating a morning meal was not a reliable approach to weight management. The researchers also found that skipping breakfast likely does not lead to weight gain.
There are plenty of reasons to eat breakfast that have nothing to do with weight loss. To consume important nutrients that you might otherwise not get enough of throughout the day. In other words, a missed breakfast is a missed opportunity.
Here are some of the key nutrients you can load up on in the morning:
- Fiber: Most Americans are not meeting their daily fiber needs. According to the Institute of Medicine, women need 25 grams of fiber per day and men need 38 grams per day, yet the average adult only eats 15 grams of fiber per day. Why do we need fiber? Research has shown that fiber may help lower cholesterol, protect against heart disease, regulate blood sugar and improve digestion. So, when you pass on a breakfast that possibly includes oatmeal, chia, flaxseed, hemp seeds, 100-percent whole grain bread or quinoa, you have decreased your chances of getting sufficient fiber that day.
- Calcium: I make oatmeal each morning with milk, which allows me to start my day with calcium. Without it, I probably wouldn’t come close to meeting my calcium needs. Many plant-based milks are also fortified with calcium and can be good additions to breakfast smoothies and cereals, hot or cold. Or, try yogurt, cottage cheese or kefir, which also provide bone-strengthening calcium.
- Vitamin D: Many foods we eat for breakfast – dairy products, orange juice, soy milk and cereals – are fortified with vitamin D. Others, like egg yolks, have it naturally. Your body needs vitamin D to help absorb calcium and therefore promote bone growth. So, if you don't eat breakfast, you've missed yet another opportunity.
Other popular breakfast nutrients include vitamin C, potassium, choline, lutein and protein. I'm not saying that you won’t get these nutrients (especially protein) without breakfast, but your chances of meeting your targets increase when you eat three meals a day instead of two.
Besides the nutrients, eating breakfast can help mentally set you up for the day ahead. Research has shown that children who eat breakfast may do better in school – their energy levels are up and their concentration is better. This can apply to adults as well. Starting your work day on an empty stomach or starting it with a well-balanced breakfast may be the difference between an unproductive day and a productive one.
Not hungry in the morning? Many times, this experience is strictly a result of late-night eating. Stop the late-night eating and your appetite will increase in the morning. Problem solved.
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