Breakfast is often called the most important meal of the day but is this really the case? The answer is “yes”, according to the experts, as eating breakfast has many health benefits.
It kick-starts your metabolism, helps you to burn off calories during the day, gives you more energy to get tasks done and helps you focus on your work.
Pitfalls of skipping breakfast
When you don’t eat breakfast, it can throw your body’s natural rhythm of fasting and eating into disarray. Overnight, while sleeping, your blood sugar can drop, so there won’t be sufficient to make your brain and muscles work at their best.
Eating breakfast will help to replenish blood sugar levels. When you don’t give your body that “fuel”, you will feel drained of energy. It will also make you more likely to snack and overeat later in the day.
Breakfast enables you to get nutrients and vitamins from healthy foods including dairy, grains and fruits. When you skip the first meal of the day, you’re unlikely to get the nutrients your body needs to function healthily.
What time should you eat breakfast?
According to nutrition experts, the best time to eat breakfast is as soon after you wake up as possible. You should certainly eat it within two hours of getting up, otherwise you will be missing out on the benefits. You will also feel more tempted to eat high-sugar junk foods to perk yourself up.
If you exercise in the morning, you should still have breakfast first. Eat something light but nutritional, such as a banana or avocado on toast, around 20 to 30 minutes before you work out.
Even on a busy morning, never let a healthy breakfast become a casualty of your lateness. You will suffer later in the day and by mid-morning, if you’re at work, you’ll feel tired, sluggish and in need of a snack long before lunch.
How much breakfast should you eat?
One of the main reasons people say they don’t eat first thing is that they simply don’t feel hungry in the morning. Even if this is you, it’s still important to have a healthy but light breakfast.
A common cause of not feeling hungry in the morning is eating too much, too late, the night before. This is also bad for your metabolism, as your body is trying to burn off the calories before you go to sleep when you eat late. However, if you’ve over-indulged, you may go to bed full of excess calories – a cause of weight gain.
If you are hungry in the morning, as long as you eat healthy foods, you can have a sizable portion – especially if you know it has to last you ‘til lunchtime. It might stop you from being tempted by unhealthy snacks for “elevenses”.
Breakfast before work
It’s imperative you have breakfast before going to work. If you work in an office, it may be tempting to have a drawer full of unhealthy snacks, such as crisps and chocolate bars, to tide you over that mid-morning lull if you’re feeling hungry and flagging.
When you work in a coworking environment, it’s extremely important to eat breakfast. Working in a flexible environment, especially if you’re self-employed or a sole trader, means you rely even more on feeling energised, productive and enthusiastic.
After all, there’s no manager standing over you, spurring you to get your tasks done. When you’re someone who must be self-motivated in order to do the job at hand, feeling bright mentally and full of energy is the key to success.
Impact on business
Although 93% of people think breakfast is the most important meal of the day, surprisingly, only 44% actually eat it on a daily basis. If you’re a small business owner, your employees’ eating habits can have a significant impact on your company’s performance.
Research has found employees who eat an unhealthy diet are 66% more likely to suffer productivity loss than those who regularly eat healthy foods such as fruit, vegetables and whole grains. The survey of 15,000 UK and US employees also found people with a poor diet were absent 21% more than colleagues with healthy eating habits.
A healthy diet starts with breakfast and eating it should be a part of your daily routine. A cup of tea or coffee and a doughnut doesn’t qualify as eating a healthy breakfast! It will provide you with a quick energy burst, but within just a few hours, you’ll be feeling lethargic.
Diet and decision-making
New research, published by the National Academy of Sciences, suggests people who eat a well-balanced breakfast are more able to make decisions at work. A team of researchers from various universities across Europe studied two groups of people. One had eaten a low-carb breakfast, while the second had eaten a high-carb breakfast.
Each group was asked to study various hypothetical situations in the workplace. For example, the subjects were asked whether it was fair if your boss gave you only £10 of a £90 bonus when he, or she, was supposed to share it with you.
It was found the workers who had eaten the highly nutritious, high-carb breakfast were better able to make reasoned decisions. The second group, who had eaten a less nutritional, low-carb breakfast, had less ability to made decisions and plan properly.
The study concluded that a diet without carbs, but full of fat and protein, wasn’t balanced and was therefore detrimental to the subjects’ cognitive skills.
The implications for employees suggest it’s not only important when or how much we eat at breakfast time, but also the types of food we eat. Pay more attention to your diet for greater cognition and productivity in the workplace.
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