By Alejandra Perez, CSUN Dietetic Intern
Imagine sitting at work or in your first class of the day. It is early in the morning and you are still somewhat sleepy. All you can think of right now is how much you miss your bed. Suddenly, another thought pops into your head. The student (or co-worker) next to you is eating a breakfast wrap that smells really good. Your gut lets out a loud growl. Today, like other days, you skipped breakfast because you were rushing. As the clock ticks, you get hungrier and hungrier. Only 2 more hours until you have a break and you can go eat something!
Does the scenario above sound familiar? Skipping breakfast has some immediate consequences such as feeling hungry, having low energy, and being unable to concentrate on other tasks. Eating breakfast also has the following benefits:
Helps You Meet Fiber Requirements
Per day, the average adult needs about 25-30 grams of fiber. Evidence suggests that fiber protects against cardiovascular disease, obesity, type II diabetes, and is essential for bowel movement (i.e. prevent constipation)[i]. However, the average person only consumes 15 grams of fiber per day.[ii] Common breakfast foods such as whole grain cereal, oatmeal, toast, and fruit are rich in fiber. A medium apple with skin has 4.4 grams of fiber, while shredded wheat cereals have 5 to 9 grams. If your fiber intake is usually low, start by having fiber at breakfast time. Add a splash of milk to your oatmeal or cereal and you’ll be on your way to meeting calcium and vitamin D requirements as well.
Helps with Satiety and Weight Control
If you are feeling hungry in the morning but didn’t make breakfast plans, 1 of 2 things may happen. You may end up buying a quick snack such as cookies or sugary cereal bars that are high in calories but low in nutritional value. You may be in a situation where it’s not possible to get anything to eat until lunch time and since you’ll be starving by then, you may overeat. A study with 6,764 participants found that those who ate breakfast daily had a healthier weight.[iii] When you skip breakfast, you are basically fasting and the insulin response after consuming a meal will be high.3 A high insulin response may lead to increased fat storage and weight gain.3
Helps Improve Mood
Consuming breakfast has been linked with a positive effect on mood. In a study among students between ages 13-20, participants reported feeling more alert 15 minutes to 2 hours after eating breakfast.[iv] The males reported feeling more positive and interested in the things around them after eating breakfast.4 The macronutrients in breakfast affect the synthesis of monoamine neurotransmitters, which regulate mood.4 Also, who wouldn’t be happy to eat a delicious breakfast?
Tips for Planning Your Breakfast
Your morning breakfast does not have to be an elaborate meal that takes long to prepare. You can add a fried egg to whole-wheat toast for a breakfast rich in protein and fiber. Slice up vegetables at night and add them to an omelet in the morning. Follow the recipe below for overnight oats that you prep before you go to sleep and they’re ready in the morning. Yogurt, fruit cups, and peanut butter banana sandwiches are great on-the-go options. If you’re going to be on CSUN campus, spare a few minutes to stop at the Mercado and purchase a cup of oatmeal or cereal to go. Try to choose whole-grains and avoid pastries/ sugary items if possible.
Overnight oats are a quick and easy breakfast option that are high in fiber, which you can customize to your taste preferences. Chilled oats will also be perfect for the warmer weather coming up.
- 1/2 cup of old fashioned rolled oats (other types of oats may turn mushy)
- 3/4 cup of your favorite milk (dairy, soy, almond)
- 1/4 cup of fruit (berries, banana, peaches)
- 2 tablespoons of almonds, pecans, or other nuts
- 1 tablespoon of chia seeds
- Other toppings you like (cinnamon, nutmeg, honey, etc.)
- In a glass jar or to-go container, combine the oats, milk, your favorite fruit, and chia seeds if you’re using them. Cover the container, shake, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
- In the morning, add any nuts or crunchy toppings you want.
- You can add more milk if you prefer your oats to have more liquid.
- Sweeten or spice up your oats with a dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, cocoa powder, or honey.
Looking for more breakfast inspiration? Watch this quick Breakfast Toast Tutorial created by our Nutrition Experts team.
[i] Brownawell, A., Caers, W., Gibson, G., Kendall, C., Lewis, K., Ringel, Y., & Slavin, J. (2012). Prebiotics and the health benefits of fiber: Current regulatory status, future research, and goals. The Journal of Nutrition, 142(5), 962-74.
[ii] Increasing Fiber Intake. UCSF medical center. Retrieved March 08, 2018, from https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/increasing_fiber_intake/
[iii] Purslow, L., Sandhu, M., Forouhi, N., Young, E., Luben, R., Welch, A., . . . Wareham, N. (2008). Energy intake at breakfast and weight change: Prospective study of 6,764 middle-aged men and women. American Journal of Epidemiology, 167(2), 188-92.
[iv] Widenhorn-Müller, K., Hille, K., Klenk, J., & Weiland, U. (2008). Influence of having breakfast on cognitive performance and mood in 13- to 20-year-old high school students: Results of a crossover trial. Pediatrics, 122(2), 279-84.