I have to admit, I’ve never understood the reason for “breakfast foods.” Why should I have to eat cereal, eggs, etc. everyday. There probably isn’t a good reason to eat just these certain foods, however there is research showing that you should eat certain types of food for breakfast. So what is a healthy breakfast?
A number of studies have had participants eat different types of food at breakfast and then tested them on a number of variables afterwards. One such study had participants eat a high fiber/ high carb, a low fiber/ high carb, and one of two high-fat breakfasts in random order on separate mornings. The high fiber/ high carb breakfast was the most filling, caused hunger to return the slowest, led to the lest calorie intakes across the day, and was associated with the greatest amount of alertness.
High-fiber, whole-grain cereals and breads can help keep your blood sugar on an even keel and avoid a midmorning energy crash. With the hundreds of types of cereal on the market, bran cereal, bran flakes, and steel-cut oatmeal are typically the healthiest bets.
Another study found that eating a high protein breakfast is also beneficial. It had participants eat either a 50% protein, 30% carb, 20% fat breakfast or a 10% protein, 70% carb, 20% fat breakfast. The high protein breakfast led to greater satiety, improved mood, and greater attention. According to the experts at Harvard,
Yogurt is a good choice; Greek yogurt has more protein than regular yogurt. Eggs (up to one a day) are okay for healthy people. Although yolks are high in cholesterol, eggs have proteins, vitamins, and other nutrients and don’t appear to increase the risk for developing heart disease… Limit processed meats to the occasional treat as these foods are associated with a higher risk of colorectal cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
So, high fiber, high carb, high protein breakfasts appear to be the healthiest. Stock up on things like whole grain pancakes, whole grain cereal, fresh fruit, yogurt, and eggs. Or, feel free to break free of traditional breakfast foods. It’s the type of food you eat, not specifically what you eat for breakfast that matters. To make it easier for you to access breakfast, you could even consider grabbing breakfast on the go from somewhere like matt’s big breakfast for example. This specific restaurant is only available in certain areas, but with the franchising opportunities they offer, there should be some open closer to you in the future, hopefully! For now though, there are multiple breakfast restaurants you could get some food from. Make sure to have something for breakfast!
Bonus: In case you’re thinking about skipping breakfast altogether, another study found that eating breakfast improved alertness. It also improved visuospatial memory and mood specifically in men.
Holt, S. H. A. “The effects of high-carbohydrate vs high-fat breakfasts on feelings of fullness and alertness, and subsequent food intake.” International journal of food sciences and nutrition 50.1 (1999): 13-28.
Lloyd, Helen M., et al. “Acute effects on mood and cognitive performance of breakfasts differing in fat and carbohydrate content.” Appetite 27.2 (1996): 151-164.
Widenhorn-Müller, Katharina, et al. “Influence of having breakfast on cognitive performance and mood in 13-to 20-year-old high school students: Results of a crossover trial.” Pediatrics 122.2 (2008): 279-284.
Zeng, Yao-Chi, et al. “Influences of protein to energy ratios in breakfast on mood, alertness and attention in the healthy undergraduate students.” Health3.06 (2011): 383.