A Nutrisystem Journey: Why Is Breakfast So Important?
You've probably heard the saying "breakfast is the most important meal of the day," but I've always wondered what the big deal about breakfast is. I'm not usually hungry when I first wake up, and prefer to linger over just coffee until lunch time. Having heard about the importance of breakfast over and over again, and now that I'm on Nutrisystem which requires me to eat all day long — including breakfast — I decided to figure out just what makes breakfast so important.
The Mental Advantage
When you start the day with a healthy breakfast, you're giving your body and mind the fuel it needs to recover from all the time you spent sleeping. When you go all night without eating, your glycogen stores begin to deplete. Skipping breakfast results in a loss of focus and concentration by lunch time, including the ability to think clearly and problem-solve. These effects are more notable in children, according to Susan Kraus, a registered dietitian at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey.
I can personally see the difference between days that I skip breakfast and days that I eat breakfast, now that breakfast has become part of my Nutrisystem routine. I don't think as clearly when working in the morning on just coffee for fuel, but when I'm following the meal plan in my daily tracker and eating the way I'm supposed to — my energy levels are up all day long and I'm thinking clearly.
Eating a healthy breakfast is said to reduce cravings and lead to making better choices throughout the day. If you eat a leftover slice of pizza with extra cheese for breakfast, you're more likely to grab fast food at lunch and continue the trend of unhealthy, mindless eating throughout the day — but if you make good choices for a balanced breakfast, you will probably make better choices the rest of the day.
My mom always says eating breakfast causes her to want to snack all day long, whereas if she skips breakfast completely, she doesn't feel the need to eat as much. Is it because she's thinking about food? She's probably right about wanting to eat more after eating breakfast, but it's probably what she chooses to eat for breakfast rather than just thinking about food. Foods high on the glycemic index will cause blood sugar to increase rapidly, followed by a "crash." Experts recommend a balanced breakfast containing protein, carbohydrate, fiber, and fat. The combination will make you feel full longer than just grabbing carbs on your way out the door. Bagels slathered in jelly or cream cheese sure do taste great, but it's almost nothing but carbohydrates and you end up hungrier sooner, and are probably craving more carbohydrates and sweets as a result.
My Own Breakfast Routine
In an effort to get healthier and reach my goal weight, I've been participating in Nutrisystem through a blogging program where I share my experiences while on their meal plan. For breakfast, I enjoy one Nutrisystem breakfast entree, a dairy or protein, and a fruit. Most days, I opt for one of the cereals with 4 ounces of fat free milk and half a banana for my "first breakfast". Then, because I still have a dairy or a protein left on the meal plan, I'll wait about two hours until I start to get the first signs of hunger, and eat an egg or a yogurt to complete the breakfast serving.
My favorite cereal is the Cluster Crunch. It's like a mixture of cheerios and honey bunches of oats. I add half a banana and milk and good to go! But I also like the Cinnamon Bun and Double Chocolate muffin from time to time, to spice things up.
More recently, Nutrisystem has been sending me some of their Nutrisystem Select foods — these are the frozen gourmet meals. My favorite frozen breakfast is the breakfast burrito, but I also enjoy the French Toast from time to time — I just put the slice of bread into the toaster and toast until it's done and believe it or not, it tastes like french toast!
You can follow my overall experience and progress weekly here at HealthyTheory.com or @debbiedragon on Twitter. Please leave comments on your own weight loss journey or ask questions about Nutrisystem. I'm happy to answer what I can based on my experiences!
Journey Update: I started Nutrisystem on November 1st. I have lost 21 pounds. (I took two weeks off though, so now I need to catch up!)
Other Posts in this Series:
- One Meal At a Time
- A Successful First Week
- What is the Glycemic Index?
- Dieting Over the Holiday Season
- Can You Drink Alcohol and Still Lose Weight?
Nutrisystem is providing their program free of charge for my participation in the Nutrisystem Nation Blogging Program.