You've heard it before: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Aside from fueling your body for the day ahead, breakfast can curb cravings and help you maintain a healthy weight. Now, we're learning that breakfast has even more up its sleeve.
Scientists recently discovered that eating breakfast every morning can actually help fight type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. And even though breakfast adds to your total caloric intake for the day, its metabolic benefits outweigh any potential negatives.
Here's how it works: eating breakfast causes fat cells to use up more sugar rather than storing it, helping to regulate insulin.
In the study, a small group of people 29 lean and 20 obese were given the option of fasting until midday or eating a daily breakfast of their choosing. The breakfast group consumed at least 350 calories within two hours of waking up, and 700 total calories by 11 am. In both groups, a range of metabolic functions were measured before and after the study, and fat cells were biopsied to get a closer-than-ever look at the precise effect that eating breakfast (or not) had on their bodies.
Researchers found that in participants with normal weights, eating breakfast increased the amount of sugar the cells used up and positively changed the activity of genes involved in insulin resistance and fat metabolism.
These findings help bolster previous research that showed breakfast contributes to better glucose control in fat cells. Taken together, these studies make a serious case for breakfast.
For the participants that were considered clinically obese, the findings were a bit more complicated. The more body fat a participant had, the less their fat cells responded to insulin. Meanwhile, fasting also appeared to increase the activity of genes involved in inflammation.
The bottom line: more research may be needed to fully understand how a morning meal affects different body weights, as well as the metabolic impacts of different foods. But for most of us, the study is even more reason to bring on the breakfast.
Yummy and Healthy Breakfast Recipes to Try
Has all this science convinced you to make breakfast a morning must? Here are two fast, easy recipes that are as healthy as they are delicious.
Microwave Black Forest Oatmeal
If you love sweets but not all the calories, this ones for you. Wake up with this light, energy-packed take on Black Forest Cake to jumpstart your day.
cup steel-cut (five-minute) oatmeal
tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
8-10 dried cherries
cup liquid of choice (water, milk, almond milk)
- Add dry ingredients to Mason-type jar; shake to mix.
- Add liquid, cover. You can make several and refrigerate until ready to cook.
- Microwave 60 seconds, stir and continue to microwave another 30-60 seconds.
- Microwaves vary, so you may need to experiment a little to get the timing right.
Simple Spinach and Feta Omelet
This savory Mediterranean treat ticks all the boxes of a healthy, balanced breakfast, with protein, veggies and dairy to start the day right.
4-5 eggs, beaten (if you're watching your cholesterol, substitute egg whites)
cup spinach, chopped
2 tbsp. feta cheese, crumbled
Cooking spray or oil
Optional: Chopped tomatoes, diced onion, sliced mushrooms the more veggies, the better!
- Heat skillet over medium-low heat.
- Lightly beat eggs with a dash of milk or water. Lightly season with salt and pepper.
- Spray skillet with cooking spray and pour in the eggs, making sure they fully cover the bottom. Cook 1-2 minutes.
- Place spinach, feta and any other veggies in center of the eggs. Cook 2-3 more minutes, until edges begin to curl.
- Using a spatula, fold omelet in half and continue cooking until cheese is melted.