Breakfast can be confusing

By: Nick VanBogelen CSCS, AT, ATC
East Jackson Schools Athletic Trainer
Orthopaedic Rehab Specialists, P.C. 
 
A bowl of muesli, a slice of toast, a muffin, and a tall glass of fresh orange juice. Sounds like a healthy breakfast, but it isn’t. Truth is, breakfast can be confusing. You may have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day in TV ads, in-store placements, and large marketing campaigns. These may lead you to believe that many breakfast products are healthy and in some cases, it is true, but not always. Beyond the myths and marketing, here’s what you need to know about breakfast:
 
1.    Breakfast Differences
Many breakfast products contain a great deal of sugar and simple carbohydrates. After an entire night of fasting, the simple carbs are digested quickly, causing your blood sugar and insulin levels to rise quickly. Your body stops burning fat and starts storing the simple carbohydrates as fat. Even worse, after the simple carbs are digested, you experience an energy crash and then begin craving food in just a few hours. In contrast, complex carbohydrates, like whole grains or plain oatmeal, provide lasting energy. Their absorption takes longer, preventing large swings in your blood sugar. Adding protein and fat to your meal will also help level out your blood sugar. With a healthy combination of complex carbohydrates, protein, and fat, you’ll feel full for longer and get power out of the complex nutrients.
 
2.    Make Your Own Decisions
The habit of breakfast has been manufactured by the modern food industry. Food companies have invested millions to convince us that their breakfast products are the best. “Healthy” products are marketed to convince us that sugar-coated cereal or pastries are the best choice and they are not! It may take more effort on your part, but it is important to ignore the advertising and make your own decisions. The easiest way to do this is to read nutritional labels. On each food product, you’ll find the real breakdown of carbs, protein, and fat. With this information, you can make your own decisions about what is healthy and what isn’t.
 
3.    Avoid Fruit Juice
Did you know that a glass of orange juice contains more sugar than a glass of Coke?
If you look at the nutritional labels, you’ll find this to be true. This doesn’t mean that Coke is the better choice, but drinking lots of juice isn’t the right option either. Juice contains a lot of the simple sugar fructose, which has been associated with obesity, insulin resistance, and type II diabetes. Drink water instead.
 
4.    Stick to a Routine
Whether you regularly eat one, two, or three meals a day, it’s important to eat enough calories and stick to a routine. By doing so, your body will learn when it can burn fat.
Some people skip breakfast their whole lives while staying healthy and maintaining their weight. This is perfectly fine. It means that their bodies have adapted to their routine and learned to function without breakfast. If these people changed up their routine and began sporadically eating breakfast, their bodies would get confused and begin to put on weight.
Many people tend to eat irregularly. They have breakfast one day, but then skip it the next day. In these cases, the body becomes confused and unsure of when the next meal may be. To compensate, the body stores more fat in order to “survive” the next fasting phase. If you eat breakfast irregularly, stay consistent by eating a good breakfast each day.
 
The Breakfast Bottom Line:
·     Steer clear of sugary foods. Choose whole, natural foods with a mix of fat, carbs, and protein to keep you satisfied.
·     Adding protein to your breakfast can help you stay full for longer and keep constant energy during the day.
·     Try new recipes. Combine eggs, spinach, mushrooms, vegetables, ham, or cottage cheese with complex carbs.
·     If you have lived a healthy life without eating breakfast daily, it is fine to continue.
·     If you sporadically eat breakfast, it may help to make it a regular habit. Try it for a week and decide for yourself.