Why it's important to have breakfast
within 30 minutes of getting up
Ever since we were children someone has
been reminding us that it's important to start
the day with a good breakfast or in some
cases any breakfast at all. In a past issue of My Healthy Lifestyle we even took on the excuses that many people come up with for going without the traditional first meal of the day.
Working from that platform, it seems that it's not only important to eat breakfast, but it also matters when you eat.
Understanding why requires a bit of education on the human metabolism. Basically, when you wait too long before fueling up after your last meal – and this excludes the midnight snacks which create dietary problems of their own – our bodies tend to hold on to fat as stored energy.
This physiologic phenomenon is part of an evolutionary panic response that goes back to our prehistoric ancestors who were often dealing with feast and famine situations. So you can blame your inner caveman or cavewoman for the
efficient fat-storing units that we've become.
Eating a meal within 30 minutes of waking will help increase the rate of our metabolism which has slowed down to conserve the stored energy. Simply put, breakfast jump starts the whole process.
Is it 30 minutes after "waking up" or "getting up"?
If you're one of those people who like to hit the snooze button a few times, don't worry. The "30 minute rule" starts when you get out of bed and begin to be active. Of course there are some exceptions, including medications that you may take in the morning that may require that you maintain an empty stomach for a time. Also, if you work out first thing in the morning you may prefer to maintain an emptier stomach during that time. In that case, make sure you eat breakfast shortly after your exercise session.
How critical is the 30 minute mark?
Thirty minutes is recommended by a good number of nutritionists, but it's not a hard-and-fast rule. The important thing is to try and eat breakfast when it is comfortable for you and within a relatively short time from when you finally get out of bed, but in all cases, the longer you wait to eat, the greater the risk your metabolism will slow down and shift into the fat-storing starvation mode.
Some brief thoughts on what to eat sooner than later
The first rule of breakfast is that eating anything, particularly close to the time you get up, is far better than skipping breakfast altogether. After that, it's important to keep in mind that certain foods are more beneficial than others when eaten for your first meal of the day.
For example, nutritionists tell us that a good way to break the fast and gain high energy is by eating one or two servings of fruit and then following up (or combining the fruit with) foods high in fiber including oatmeal, whole grain bread or high-fiber cereal. Adding a low-fat source of protein such as egg whites or egg substitute, low-fat yogurt or turkey bacon will give your breakfast added staying power and help level out for blood sugar.
And for those times when there isn't much time – be sure to read this month's Employee Tip on a quick but healthy breakfast that you can prepare ahead of time and enjoy for a week's worth of breakfasts.
Speaking of food …
The link below doesn't focus on breakfast but it does offer some useful information on slimming down and better eating:
- Return to Newsletter Home