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Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

We’ve all heard it. Repeatedly. And many of us even think there’s some truth to it. Yet breakfast is still the most widely neglected meal. Check out some of these startling stats:

  • While 54 percent of Americans say they’d like to eat breakfast every day, only a third actually do.
  • 77 percent of young children eat breakfast every day, but that number falls to 50 percent among middle school students and 36 percent among high school students.

Why is Breakfast Important?

Let’s start with the word itself. Breakfast. Break – fast.

That’s exactly what we’re doing in the morning: breaking what is typically about a 12 hour fast!

“After sleeping, we need to re-fuel our brains and bodies for the day.  Without a healthy breakfast, we simply are not as likely to function at our best,” notes pediatrician and author Dr. Laura Jana.

A Better Breakfast:

Putting together a nutritious breakfast doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. There are really just 4 main components to a satiating and healthy breakfast:

  1. Complex carbohydrate – Complex carbs provide sustained energy that will keep you going strong all morning. Avoid simple carbohydrates (like sugary cereals) to stave off a blood sugar spike and crash.
  2. Plant-based protein – Of all the macronutrients, protein takes the longest to digest. Translation: it helps keep you full longer.
  3. Healthy fat – Include a a bit of healthy fat for a more filling and satisfying breakfast. They are also great for your heart and brain!
  4. Fiber – Fiber is key for breakfast, as it helps regulate blood sugar levels and keeps you full longer. Fiber also improves regularity and helps protect against cardiovascular disease.

Make it Happen:

Simple enough, right? Well it’s also easy to implement! Here are a handful of breakfast ideas (in order of time commitment) incorporating the tips above:

  1. Fruit, yogurt, and granola. Look for soy, almond and coconut-based yogurts, and opt for lower-sugar yogurt and cereal varieties to avoid that sugar spike.
  2. A green smoothie. Add some nut butter for healthy fat and protein powder for extra protein. Check out our Guide to Amazing Green Smoothie Combos for more ideas!
  3. Whole grain muffins. Muffins made with wholesome ingredients like fruit, nuts, oats, teff flour, and other whole grains have some serious staying power! Make a batch over the weekend, freeze or refrigerate, and you’ve got breakfast all week. Here are a few delicious options.
  4. Oatmeal. Steel-cut is especially delicious and satisfying, but any variety will do. Add some nuts and dried (or fresh) fruit for extra flavor and nutrition. You can even stir in some protein powder!
  5. Tofu scramble. It takes a bit longer to make, but is well worth the time investment! Make a batch ahead of time and quickly wrap in a burrito or eat straight from the fridge on a weekday morning. Or savor it for a weekend brunch. Here’s one of our favorite recipes!

What’s your go-to breakfast? Share it in the comments section below, or send us your best breakfast recipe!

Image Credit: QuintanaRoo/Flickr

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