Given that breakfast is known as “the most important meal of the day,” it’s amazing how many Canadians skip it. While 60 percent have breakfast every day, according to an Ipsos-Reid survey, 7 percent never do, and 33 percent only sometimes get their brekkie on.
As a Registered Dietitian providing private video appointments at TELUS Health MyCare™, people often tell me that they don’t have time to eat in the morning, skip breakfast in order to lose weight, or are simply not hungry in the a.m.
Is it bad to skip breakfast?
It really just depends on the person. It’s important to listen to your body, so if you wake up without an appetite and choose to fill your tank later in the morning or at lunchtime, that’s totally fine. But if you nix breakfast only to find your energy levels sagging later in the morning, or end up overdoing it at lunch or with evening snacks because you are starving, then it’s time to rethink your morning routine.
Here are some other breakfast questions I often hear, along with the science-backed answers I provide:
How important is breakfast?
For many guys, skipping breakfast is like driving a long-distance without filling up the gas tank. Your energy levels, and mental and physical abilities, will tend to fade much sooner without it.
This is supported by research. A study of 6,000 students from the Toronto Foundation for Student Success, for instance, found that students who ate breakfast had better grades and were more likely to graduate, while a British study revealed that eating breakfast improves mental performance, hand-eye coordination, and the ability to deal with stress.
There are also longer-term health drawbacks to skipping breakfast. A 16-year study of nearly 27,000 participants found that men who skip it have a 27 percent higher risk of heart disease. Another study found that people who regularly eat in the morning have a significantly lower risk of obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
How do you build a healthy breakfast?
A protein-rich breakfast is the way to go. Why protein for breakfast? For one thing, it provides a longer-lasting energy source than carbohydrate-packed pastries or sugary cereals. If you do eat cereal, go for those that contain no more than 10 grams of sugar per serving.
For another, eating plenty of protein prevents overeating later in the day by making you feel fuller longer. Proteins are great for our skin, hair, bones and heart, and last but not least, they build muscle tissue. That’s why the average adult male needs to eat 0.8 grams of protein each day for every kilogram of body weight, which works out to about 73 grams for a 200-pound man.
Here are some breakfast-friendly foods that are packed with protein:
They’re popular for breakfast for a reason. As well as being simple to prepare, one large egg contains 6 grams of protein.
A typical serving of Greek yogurt contains about 15 to 20 grams of protein, double what’s in regular yogurt.
Try cottage cheese or ricotta cheese to increase your muscle-building power. Half a cup of cottage cheese has 15 grams of protein.
As well as containing 6 grams of protein per cooked cup, oatmeal is rich in vitamins and minerals.
From peanuts and almonds to cashews and walnuts, there’s no shortage of protein and healthy monounsaturated fats in the nut family.
What are some easy things to grab if you’re in a rush?
Pairing protein-rich foods with fibre-rich fruits and vegetables will give you the energy kick you need to start your day, as well as the longer-lasting energy you need to make it to lunch. For example:
- An apple and a handful of nuts
- A hard-boiled egg with a couple of slices of tomato or sauteed greens, like spinach. It doesn’t get much easier than boiling five eggs on Sunday night and popping them in the fridge for the week
- A bowl of Greek yogurt with fresh berries on top
What are some quick and easy breakfast ideas?
Gentlemen, start your blenders! Smoothies can supercharge guys’ engines with shots of protein and plenty of essential vitamins and fibre. Click here to check out three easy recipes.
Some guys like to add protein powder to smoothies, but it’s likely not needed unless you’re in hardcore training mode. Add ingredients like Greek yogurt, milk, nut butter, or hemp seeds that are naturally rich in protein.
Instead of cooking oats in the morning, mix half a cup of them with half a cup of Greek yogurt, half a cup of milk, and a teaspoon of your sweetener of choice—maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, whatever works—cover and refrigerate overnight. Your taste buds and your mojo will thank you in the morning!
Prep these handheld hunger-smashers the night before and grab them out of the fridge in the morning. Add some scrambled eggs, veggies, or beans, and you will have a tasty and filling breakfast ready for you as you’re running out the door. Click here for an easy recipe to try.
Is cereal for breakfast a bad idea?
Most breakfast cereals aren’t great. The problem with most cereal is that it’s big on sugar and short on protein and fibre. It won’t give you energy for very long, it will fill up almost immediately, and you will likely be hungry again in half an hour. The good news is that breakfast cereals have come a long way, and certain brands, like Kashi, are making some high protein, high fibre cereals.
How you can know your cereal is healthy-ish:
- At least 6 grams of protein per serving
- Less than 10 grams of sugar per serving
Be sure to check the serving size on the label because oftentimes, it’s absurdly small, like half a cup. And half a cup of cereal is more suitable for a toddler than a full-grown man.
If you have time on your days off to take breakfast to the next level, how about a plate of Fierce French Toast? Just because it’s breakFAST doesn’t mean you can’t take it slow…
Is there a grab-and-go breakfast food that works great for you? Share your tips in the comments below!