By Laura Lucas Pablo, Healthy Aggies Intern
You have your earliest class in the morning and all you want to do is sleep in as many minutes as you can forgetting that you also need to eat something. However, you tell yourself that you can eat after your class or wait until is lunch time just to get those extra hours of sleep. Starting with the obvious, we typically eat different foods a day at different times right? Breakfast, lunch and dinner, but why should it be this way? Why is it so important to have our first meal of the day. As most of us know, breakfast is known to be the most important meal of the day but it might be more important than you think.
Why is Breakfast so important?
Breakfast encourages healthier eating: It has been shown that people who eat breakfast tend to eat 12.3 percent healthier throughout the day which can lead to losing weight or maintaining weight, if that is something that you are concern about, eating breakfast might help you achieve your goal. Eating breakfast also has been shown to maintain our blood sugar levels and prevent food cravings and issues with will power later in the day meaning that breakfast might help you make better decisions later on in the day. What happens when you skip breakfast is that your blood sugar drops even lower, as a result, you become hungry and have less energy. This sets you up to impulsively snack in the morning, often on high-fat sweets or to eat extra servings or bigger portions at lunch or dinner. A study from 2010 found evidence that people who skip breakfast compensate later in the day with more refined carbohydrates and fats and fewer fruits and vegetables, but when you eat breakfast, your body feels nourished and satisfied, making you less likely to overeat the rest of the day.
Breakfast boost energy levels: When we wake up in the morning the sugar level that our body needs to our muscle and brain work their best is usually low, and breakfast helps replenish it. If your body doesn’t get anything in the morning, you might feel low in energy and most likely eat a heavy lunch consisting of fats and carbs as stated earlier. Glucose is the body’s energy source, it is broken down and absorbed from the carbohydrates you eat. In the morning, after you’ve gone without food for as long as 12 hours, your glycogen stores are low. Glycogen is the glucose that has been stored in your muscle tissue and liver where it is released slowly overnight to keep your blood sugar levels stable. Once all of the energy from the glycogen stores is used up, your body starts to break down fatty acids to produce the energy it needs. Without carbohydrate, fatty acids are only partially oxidized, which means that they do not have enough oxygen to transfer to the body which can cause reduced energy levels. Eating breakfast restores your glycogen stores and boosts your energy levels, as well as your metabolism for the day.
Breakfast provides nutrients: Breakfast provides a significant proportion of the day’s total nutrient intake and offers the opportunity to eat foods full with nutrients such as folate, iron, B vitamins and fiber. Essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients can only be gained from food, so even though your body can usually find enough energy to make it to the next meal, you still need to top up your vitamin and mineral levels to maintain health and vitality. So it might be a good idea to start eating your first meal of the day.
Breakfast promotes heart health:Eating breakfast does not only increase your energy but also promotes heart health. Studies have show that those who eat breakfast tend to lower their risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol. In a study conducted among a group of men where they studied those who ate breakfast and those who did not. After the experiment, they found that men who reported they skipped breakfast had a 27 percent higher risk of heart attack or death from coronary heart disease than those who reported they didn’t skip breakfast. Although this study consisted of men, it applies to women and to any races as well. Eating breakfast is a way to reduce heart problems but only when what we are eating is healthy. For example, if you eat a bowl of oatmeal with some eggs and fruits, it is a good way to start the morning since it gives you many health benefits.
Breakfast can help with cognitive function: The human brain is a remarkable organ, it represents 2% of adult body weight, yet is the most metabolically active body organ. In order for our brain to function throughout the day, we need to give it the necessary nutrients from food. A research in cognitive performance in school children, showed that cognitive performance consists of a healthy diet, a diet that includes breakfast. This is because as mentioned before, when we wake up in the morning our blood glucose and insulin concentration is low and these can interfere with brain function. A study was conducted on children where they tested their academic performance, school attendance and mood. After they finished their study, it was shown that those who perform better were children who ate breakfast. Although this study was more focused on children, the authors stated it also applies to adolescents ages from 19 and above because as we develop, our brain is also developing so it needs that energy and all the nutrients necessary to function better.
Takeaway: As college students, it is very hard to actually eat breakfast everyday either because we don’t have time or we go to sleep late and cannot wake up in the morning to prepare breakfast. But, I challenge you to eat breakfast with the right foods for two weeks and you will perform better during the day, not only physically but mentally.