Breakfast is referred to as the most important meal of the day by most health professionals, but why? There are a few things you should know about what and how your body metabolizes energy for this to make sense.
- Your brain requires carbohydrates to function.
- If you do not eat carbohydrates, your liver will make them from other foods, from your body fat, or glycogen found in your muscles.
- When you are asleep and not eating, your body needs to make energy in order to continue to survive. If you haven’t eaten before bed, your body creates energy from your stored body fat and from the glycogen stored in your muscles. this is known as gluconeogenesis and glycogenolysis.
So, all night long, your liver is converting stored energy into usable energy for your brain to continue to function. Since your brain is responsible for other organs such as your heart and lungs to work, this is a good thing. When you wake up, there is a shift in the hormones your body is producing. You body goes from “I am asleep and I need to make energy for myself to live” to “I am alive, awake, alert, and I am able to find food for energy.” When you do not feed your body in the morning, your body says, “I am going to continue to use body fat and muscle for energy, but I better use it sparingly because I do not know when I will be fed again. I may need this extra body fat for later use.” This is where the notion of a ‘slowed metabolism’ comes from. If you don’t feed your body, you will preserve fat and burn calories at a slower rate so that you have stored energy to use later. In order to tell your body that it doesn’t have to store body fat and burn fewer calories, you need to feed it.
Another reason breakfast is so important is that when you skip it, you increase the chances of over eating later in the day, as well as hoarding more body fat when you do eat. This is known as glycolysis (breaking down carbohydrates and storing them as fat). If you go too long without eating, your body is more likely to store carbohydrates for fat so that it can use them the following morning when you skip breakfast again.
Summary: Eating breakfast helps you burn more calories and body fat throughout the day. It helps your brain function more clearly, and it helps prevent you from over eating later in the day. Examples of a healthy breakfast include: 1-2 eggs, 100% whole grain toast, and fruit; 1/2 cup of cooked oatmeal, 1/4 cup of frozen or fresh fruit, and a hard boiled egg; 1/2 cup of greek yogurt with fruit; 100% whole grain bread with peanut butter and a sliced banana.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions. Caitlin@SmartBellyNutrition.com
Caitlin Lantier MS, RD, LD