I consider breakfast to be the most important meal of the day.
How many of you skip breakfast, eat hours after rising or grab and go with a banana?
When I discuss breakfast with a client, I compare the body to a wood stove. Say you fill your wood stove with a healthy amount of wood the night before. There may be a few embers left (or none) in the morning.
If you fill it again with wood without first priming it with kindling and getting a hot coal bed burning, your stove will not burn completely, creating lots of dirty smoke and probably leaving your house cold.
Of equal importance is continuing to add fuel throughout the day to maintain heat production.
Our bodies are similar, needing a nice healthy source of fuel in the morning to allow our metabolic system to function optimally throughout the day. Continuing to “stoke our personal wood-stove at regular intervals to maintain the energy production is also necessary.
What to eat has long been the battle, whether you are eating for performance, health reasons or hunger. Eating a well-balanced meal of protein, fat and carbohydrate is a safe go-to when considering nutrition. When you start your wood-stove you can’t leave out the kindling, quick lighting starter and a match and expect your furnace to start and continue throughout the day.
Fats, like the wood, will take longer to digest, leaving you feeling satisfied for a longer time. Protein and complex carbohydrates quick start your system and replenish glycogen stores depleted in the overnight fast.
Nutritional studies highlight eating simple, rapidly available carbohydrates, meals loaded with simple sugars and little protein or fat may increase the risk of metabolic syndrome.
A recent study reported in the Journal of Strength and Condition suggests that eating a balanced meal versus no breakfast elicited an immediate improvement in strength and power during a morning workout.
The study encourages eating breakfast 1-to-4 hours before exercising. The study also notes regular breakfast eaters have a higher resting metabolic rate or burn more calories in the morning than those who skip breakfast.
People who regularly skip breakfast have higher body mass indexes and obesity-related chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, and heart disease is more prevalent.
Let’s take a trip around the world and compare customary breakfasts with our own. A traditional Japanese breakfast would consist of white rice, miso soup, nori and pickles. A beaten raw egg poured over hot rice and tea round out the meal.
A trip to Denmark would offer slices of rye bread, yellow cheese and a soft-boiled egg. Yogurt, breakfast cereals and breads with jam are popular alternatives.
In France, most breakfasts do not include a savory offering. Coffee or hot chocolate, juice, breads and pastries with butter, jam or chocolate paste are the norm.
In Spain, breakfast frequently only contains two items, with a mid-morning snack to follow. Popular choices are chocolate with doughnut-like fritters or biscuits, toast, butter and jam. Regional preferences favor savory flavors like raw cured spiced spreadable sausage or toast with olive oil, salt and tomatoes.
Traditional breakfasts in Britain and Ireland consist of full breakfasts or eggs, meats, veggies, baked beans, fried bread, toast and pudding.
Many breakfasts are modified from traditions of old. Hard labor dictated a larger, heartier breakfast. Households employed servants that were available to prepare lavish breakfasts. Due to the availability of cold storage, many breakfast dishes included the savory leftovers from the night before.
Toast to the “breaking of the fast” — enjoy your healthy breakfast every day!