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Sharp Health News

Is breakfast really the most important meal?

Feb. 22, 2016

Myth Monday: Breakfast
You wake up to the smell of bacon, eggs and a side of French toast. You justify such a heavy meal in the morning with the idea that you will burn it off throughout the day. 

Laury Ellingson, CSO, a registered dietitian at Sharp Grossmont Hospital, offers a better recipe for a balanced breakfast, and cracks open the myth of breakfast as “the most important meal of the day.” 

“While all meals throughout the day are necessary, breakfast is especially important,” says Ellingson. 

She points out that in the morning, you probably haven’t eaten since dinner the night before. If you skip breakfast and do not eat until lunch the next day, then that is an 18-hour fast, which isn’t healthy. 

“Your body needs fuel, like gas and oil in a car, to operate well,” explains Ellingson. “If you don’t give it the fuel it needs, the car does not run.” 

Breakfast is an important meal to refuel your body, especially with these four components:
  • Fiber 
  • Protein 
  • Healthy fats 
  • Complex carbohydrates 
“Many think ‘fiber helps you go,’ but it also contributes to many other health aspects,” says Ellingson. “Fiber contributes to regulating your GI tract, it can lower cholesterol and it can slow the absorption of sugar.” 

Ellingson suggests women get 25 to 30 mg of fiber and men get 35 to 40 mg of fiber per day. Most people only get about 10 to 15 mg of fiber in their daily diet. Ellingson offers some additions to your morning smoothie to up your fiber intake: 
“These will provide more protein and fiber, and will help you feel full longer,” adds Ellingson. 
 
When you think about protein, you may picture a plate with ham, bacon or sausage. Ellingson offers alternatives that you may not think of like Greek yogurt, which you can add to your smoothie or eat solo topped with granola and fruit. 

Avoid fruit juices that are not 100 percent juice and those that have added sugar and additives, which turn healthy complex carbohydrates into simple carbohydrates. 

“Some carbs are definitely better for you than others,” offers Ellingson. “Whole grains, like 100 percent whole-wheat bread, English muffins and bagels, paired with some ground peanuts are OK to eat. The trick is to read the packaging and confirm it says ‘whole wheat,’ preferably with 100 percent whole wheat.” 

Moderation is the right approach for any diet — don’t completely give up coffee or the occasional slice of bacon. Ellingson assures that if you balance your breakfast to include protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and fiber, you will fuel your body for success throughout the day.

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