The saying, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” is constantly repeated around us. However, many people start their mornings off without eating, developing a poor habit that haunts them throughout the day.
Lunch and dinner are equally important, yet breakfast receives most of the credit because it sets the tone for the day and affects just about every dimension of our being. Not eating breakfast lowers one’s physical performance, because there is nothing to refuel the body in the morning. As a result, energy levels fall drastically, leaving one feeling restless and groggy.
Breakfast becomes especially important for student athletes who need a much higher level of energy compared to the average student. Not eating breakfast affects one mentally even moreso, specifically one’s mood and focus. For instance, people who skip breakfast, will later feel agitated by hunger and not be able to focus much on the day’s tasks. This may also lead to overindulging in other meals like lunch and dinner.
Students are the most affected demographic when it comes to breakfast because it has such a significant effect on cognitive function. Considering the high amount of focus required of students, breakfast serves to increase focus as well as attention and memory over the morning hours, specifically when attempting to process complex visual tasks.
Breakfast serves as the first source of energy for the body, providing a rush of vitamins and nutrients, assuming the right foods are eaten. Certainly, anything is better than nothing for breakfast, yet, Fordham University Dietitian Melanie Simeone R.D., recommends fueling our bodies with nutritious, high-quality foods. She noted, “Some key nutrients to focus on early in the morning include fiber, protein and whole grains. Fiber will help keep you full—a good rule of thumb is to aim for eight grams of fiber at breakfast—and a combination of whole grains and protein will provide sustainable energy and may help [students] stay alert and focused in classes.”
Simeone listed some common breakfast foods that should be consumed in moderation as well, such as pancakes and waffles with maple syrup, breakfast cereals with a high sugar content and breakfast pastries. Instead, great breakfast options to consider include an omelet with two to three vegetabless, whole wheat toast or plain greek yogurt topped with fruit and granola.