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Breakfast -

The Key to A



Lynn Smith
Professional Health Coach

How does your day start? Are you someone who hits the snooze button, staying in bed as long as possible? Or maybe your mornings are rushed and hectic, trying to get the kids out the door. In this crazy morning routine, are you taking time for breakfast? Many people don't.

They say they don't have time, they're not hungry in the morning, or some mistakenly reason that in an attempt to lose weight, skipping breakfast will help. But did you know the opposite is true? If you're tying to lose weight you need to eat breakfast.   Milton Stokes, R.D., M.P.H., and chief dietician for St. Barnabas Hospital in New York City, says, "People skip breakfast thinking they're cutting calories but by mid-morning and lunch, that person is starved." The results? "Breakfast skippers replace calories during the day with mindless nibbling, bingeing at lunch and dinner. They set themselves up for failure," says Stokes.  

Other researchers concur. Gretchen Hill, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at Michigan State University says, "People often think they can save calories by skipping breakfast, but if they kept food journals, they'd find that they more than make up for those saved calories later in the day." There is a biological reason this happens. A nerve chemical called neuropeptide Y (NPY) is released by the brain when you skip breakfast, which unconsciously signals you to keep eating. This is called "night-eating syndrome". The result is that once you start eating at mid-day you don't stop and you end up eating more between noon and bedtime than someone who ate breakfast.  

In looking at the habits of successful weight-loss losers, James O. Hill, Ph.D., co-founder of the National Weight Control Registry, and director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center said, "Most- 78% - reported eating breakfast everyday, and almost 90% reported eating breakfast at least five days a week - which suggests that starting the day with breakfast is an important strategy to lose weight and keep it off."  

The benefits of breakfast can make for a smoother day, too. Breakfast can increase concentration, memory, energy, and muscle coordination.  

Think about the consequences of not eating in the morning. If the last time you ate was at 8pm last night and you don't eat until lunch time, that's sixteen hours your body has been forced to run without fuel. Your brain and central nervous system both need glucose, or blood sugar, as fuel to keep your systems working. But going that long without eating has another effect on your body. Elizabetta Politi, R.D., M.P.H., and Nutrition Manager for the Duke Diet and Fitness Center at Duke University Medical School says, "When you don't eat breakfast, you're actually fasting for 15 to 20 hours, so you're not producing the enzymes needed to metabolize fat to lose weight."  

If you skipped breakfast with the intent of saving the calories in order to lose weight, you could be creating circumstances that cause your body to hold on to fat. But it gets worse.  

When you wake up in the morning, your body is naturally ready to look for food. It is at this point your metabolism is revved up and your levels of cortisol and adrenaline are at their highest. If you skip breakfast, or eat too little, your brain, which is looking for energy, will find another fuel source. In response to the search for fuel, energy starts getting pulled from muscle, resulting in muscle tissue getting destroyed. Because of this fuel shortage, when you do eat, your body and brain still think they're in crisis mode, and your body saves that energy in the form of fat.  

Now that we've discussed the importance of breakfast, let's take a look at some healthy choices, because hitting the drive-thru on your way to work isn't a going to be a good choice.  

There have been some recent studies on the benefits of eggs at breakfast. One study in the International Journal of Obesity reported that eating two eggs at breakfast, as part of a reduced-calorie diet, helped overweight adults lose more weight and feel more energetic than the participants who ate a breakfast bagel of equal calories. Nikhil V. Dhurandhar, Ph.D., lead researcher and Associate Professor in the Laboratory of Infection and Obesity at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, a campus of the Louisiana State University system says, "People have a hard time adhering to diets and our research shows that choosing eggs for breakfast can dramatically improve the success of a weight loss plan."

In his study, participants who consumed the egg breakfast as part of their reduced-calorie diet lost 65% more weight, exhibited a 61% greater reduction in BMI, and reported higher energy levels than the participants who consumed the bagel breakfast.
  Eggs aren't the only healthy breakfast alternative. Make yourself a smoothie. Take two cups of strawberries, one banana, and half a cup of pure water and blend them in a blender. If you like your smoothies a little thicker, slice and freeze the banana first.  

Work at creating a healthy breakfast habit for increased energy and a slimmer waistline.


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