Last week we were pleased to see that our company made a list of top hot cereal brands in the Wall Street Journal. We weren’t number one, but we made the list. It was pretty exciting for us to realize that we’re now playing with the big boys in the hot cereal arena.
Perhaps more interesting than being ranked among the top selling hot cereals, was the statement that Jaya Kumar, president of Quaker Food and Snacks, made regarding the reality of breakfast. Kumar stated that, “Only 40% of Americans eat breakfast… even though 97% consider it the most important meal of the day.” That number bothers me. This means that 57% of people do not eat breakfast even though they acknowledge its importance.
Does this discrepancy come from simply not making time for breakfast, or do people lack the full understanding of why breakfast is so important? I have trouble getting up just like the next person, but I absolutely cannot function if I don’t have breakfast. Low blood sugar levels are as good a reason as any to eat breakfast, but the science behind the first meal of the day makes it clear that breakfast is possibly the best thing you can do for yourself all day.
Our brains rely heavily on glucose to operate. The brain uses approximately 70% of the glucose we consume every day in the form of carbohydrates. Your brain needs to be ‘fed’ with new glucose supplies about every 12-16 hours. On average, Americans eat dinner between 6 and 7 pm. Most of us get about 8 hours of sleep a night. If you eat at 6 pm, rise at 6 am and don’t eat anything until lunchtime (which these days runs between noon and two), you’re brain is hitting that 16 hour mark around 10 am. Fueling your brain (and tummy) first thing in the morning will improve mental clarity and memory retention in a way that a cup of coffee just can’t.* I’m not knocking the java, but it offers your brain absolutely no fuel. Yes, it will get you running, but you’ll be more irritable and less attentive than you would be with a solid breakfast.
If time is your excuse- try a cup of yogurt, a banana or a quick piece of whole grain toast (heck, just eat the bread if it takes too long to toast it). It doesn’t have to be fancy- just fuel. The worst excuse is that you’re not hungry. “I just don’t feel like eating in the morning.” You know why? Because your body has already stopped sending you hunger signals. It sent them while you were sleeping and got no response, so it stopped for a while. Eating first thing in the morning is like putting fresh logs on a dying fire. You immediately get your inner fire (aka metabolism) going which actually helps with weight management. You have to eat to burn calories. Additionally, people who do not eat breakfast tend to overeat later to compensate because their bodies think they are starving.
If these aren’t compelling reasons to eat breakfast, I don’t know what would convince you. Tomorrow morning, grab a piece of fruit on your way out the door or take a few minutes to enjoy some whole grain cereal and see how much better your day will become.
*To read a great study published in the The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition about the effects of breakfast on cognition and the long-term effects of breakfast on general health, click here.