Break the Fast!

Posted on Friday, February 21st, 2014

Written by Taylor Musclow

The word breakfast originated during the 15th century, and as the name suggests, it literally means to break the fasting period of the prior night. For years and years people all over the world have been starting their days out with a morning meal. What is served at breakfast varies across cultures, however; one thing remains consistent – it is always eating in the morning. Breakfast has often been touted as the most important meal and it’s true! There are many benefits of having something to eat in the morning before you start your day.

Breakfast gives your body the fuel and nutrients it needs to get up and going. The literature is endless on the importance of breakfast and the associated health and performance benefits. Important is the fact that eating breakfast provides your brain with energy and nutrients, particularly glucose. During your sleep your brain function slows down, however; it still needs glucose to function. Your body draws upon its stores to release glucose into the blood stream to maintain the functioning of your vital organs. If you go a long period of time between eating your dinner meal and eating breakfast the next day, there is less glucose circulating in your blood. This can negatively impact the functioning of the brain.

Numerous studies have examined the link between breakfast and brain functioning and, in particular, have looked at breakfast and academic performance. They have found that students who skip breakfast have greater difficulty with concentration, alertness, memory storage, and have even reported experiencing a less positive mood overall. What might be the most surprising point of all is the fact that they have found that students who skipped breakfast had lower grades in comparison to those who ate breakfast regularly. Therefore breakfast could be the contributing factor between getting an 80 on that test or getting a 75. Even more interesting is the fact that breakfast consumption has been shown to have a greater impact on performance in school than the number of hours of sleep. Findings have demonstrated that students who skipped breakfast had poorer academic performance in comparison to those who were sleep deprived. So yes, it really is true; breakfast is the most important part of your day.

Despite the positive findings of eating breakfast, it is often a meal that is missed. Even more alarming is the fact that students are common breakfast skippers and are the ones who need the meal the most. There are many factors that contribute to why someone may skip breakfast. Currently, there is a belief that skipping breakfast can lead to weight loss which is particularly popular among young women. But in fact the opposite is true - skipping breakfast can lead to weight gain and that breakfast actually promotes the maintenance of a healthy weight. Probably the most popular reason for not eating breakfast is a lack of time. The morning for most people and especially for students is rushed; most likely because of something called the snooze button. In an attempt to sneak in a couple extra minutes of sleep, it puts the pressure on to get ready in a hurry, leaving little time to eat something before flying out the door.

Quick Breakfast Options

A lack of time should not be the reason why you haven’t had your breakfast. There are many quick breakfast options that you can either prepare in advance or take with you while you’re on the run. Here are a few healthy grab and go breakfast ideas:

Fruit and Yogurt Parfait

You can make your own fruit and yogurt parfait with frozen fruit and your choice of yogurt. If you eat Greek yogurt, it has a little bit of extra protein in comparison to regular yogurt. Using frozen fruit instead of fresh fruit will help to keep your yogurt cold during transport. You can top it off with some nuts and seeds or even your favourite cereal.

Cereal and milk

Ah, the breakfast staple, but this one doesn’t involve a bowl and spoon. Instead, put your cereal in a Ziploc bag and pour yourself a glass of milk in a travel size mug. You can munch and sip away at your milk and cereal during lecture. Cereals are great options for breakfast as they are fortified with vitamins and minerals, giving you the nutrients you need. A general rule of thumb for selecting a healthier cereal (as there are only about 100 different kinds to chose from) is picking one with 4 grams or more of fibre and 8g or less of sugar per serving. This will ensure that you are getting all the right kinds of nutrients to start your day off right.

Peanut butter and banana sandwich

A peanut butter and banana sandwich is a perfect breakfast meal. You can bring it with you and even make it the night before saving you a little bit of time in the mornings. You could even add a yogurt or glass of milk to your sandwich for extra nutrients and protein.

2 hard boiled eggs and a piece of fruit

Hard boiled eggs are a great option when you are pressed for time because they can be made in advance and stored in the fridge until ready to eat. If you want to save yourself the embarrassment of stinking up the lecture hall, peel the eggs just before you leave and put them in a container until you’re ready to eat.

Fruit smoothie

Smoothies are an excellent breakfast meal as they have all the nutrients and energy you need packed into a portable container. Also you can never get bored with a smoothie due to the endless flavour combinations. Use frozen fruit and yogurt in your smoothie to thicken it up and give it some extra creaminess. You could also add in a scoop of protein powder or a dollop for peanut butter for extra protein and delicious taste.

These breakfast options are easy and can either be made the night before or thrown together in a matter of minutes in the morning. So don’t worry, you can still hit the snooze button as many times as you like AND still have time for breakfast! Remember, breakfast doesn’t have to be complicated. You are better off to have something to eat than nothing at all. So kick-start your day off right by having breakfast, your body will thank you!

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