You may have heard breakfast is the most important meal of the day… but what makes that so? The choice to eat or not eat breakfast has a direct effect on our level of concentration, alertness, and energy. This is because our blood sugars in the morning tend to be low from an 8- to 12-hour fast during the night. Low blood sugar levels lead to feelings of lethargic, drowsy, and irritable. Trying to go about your day without filling your tank is like trying to get an engine to function at top capacity when there isn’t an adequate energy supply to make it run.
So what is blood sugar? Blood sugar is the glucose that circulates in the body and is primarily obtained from the foods we eat. It is the main source of fuel for our body and brain. Our body uses glucose as its key source of energy. When we eat food rich in carbohydrates, they are quickly broken down in the digestive system and converted to sugars that travel through the blood stream. If we are healthy, active, and eating correct portion sizes, the majority of this sugar in our blood stream is used by our body as energy but if there are extra sugars that we do not use they are stored as fat.
The importance of eating breakfast to fuel your body and mind for the day is only half of the story. It is equally as important that you make the best choices in the meal you select in order to sustain the energy you need to function during your day. When we eat a carbohydrate rich breakfast it is quickly broken down in the body and converted to sugar. If your meal was rich in simple carbohydrates (such as sugary types of cereal, sweet rolls, and juice) the breakdown and conversion happens quickly and enters the blood stream rapidly providing a very big energy boost. Unfortunately, with the help of insulin, this quick blood sugar spike induced energy boost does not last long and soon you are more lethargic, drowsy and irritable than you were before eating. This causes many people to head for the coffee or energy drinks to keep going.
Now the question remains: what should you eat for breakfast? When selecting what to eat for breakfast, choose foods with whole grains like oatmeal, healthy fats such as avocado, and protein in the form of eggs or Greek yogurt. A balanced meal of 350-400 calories each morning will allow your body to digest your breakfast more slowly and limit rapid blood sugar spikes (and falls) while also providing you with an energy level that will last longer. So, please don’t skip breakfast and make sure you select a breakfast that is rich in complex carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats that will leave you feeling full, alert, and energetic all morning long.