There are plenty of reasons why you might opt out of the first meal of the day. Maybe you woke up late, or forgot to stock up on options at the food store, or got caught up scrolling through Instagram for just a little too long. We hate to break it to you, but no matter the reason, it's probably not as important as getting a nutritious breakfast in you first thing in the morning! In fact, it can seriously screw with your health if it becomes a trend. We talked with Jessica Sepel, a clinical nutritionist, best-selling health author, and international health blogger to find out exactly what could happen. And if you swear that you just don't have time to eat in the a.m., let these quick breakfast ideas be your guide!
It Can Cause Sudden Sugar Cravings
"I am a big believer in the importance of keeping your blood sugar levels stabilized all day," Sepel said, adding that breakfast helps do that. "Most people are eating toast with jam or cereal . . . a blood sugar disaster!" Our bodies need protein, healthy fat, and slow-releasing carbohydrates in order to feel satisfied and keep our blood sugar levels in check. "When I don't eat breakfast, I crave sugar and carbs all day too," she said. Sound familiar? Nutritionists, they're just like us!
It Can Kill Your Energy Levels
You wouldn't set out for a road trip when you're close to an empty tank, would you? So heading out for a busy day without having more than a cup of coffee in you just seems silly! "I think by correcting breakfast, you set yourself up for stable energy throughout the day. Simple as that," Sepel said. Make eating a breakfast part of your morning routine just like brushing your teeth, and you'll quickly see your energy levels improve.
It Can Stand in the Way of Your Weight Balance/Loss Goals
Forgetting about breakfast can have a more serious impact than just depleted energy if it becomes a regular habit. "Skipping meals can put your body in a stressed state, triggering the release of cortisol, your stress hormone," Sepel said. "Increased cortisol levels have been linked to weight gain and an inability to lose weight." Therefore, if you're looking to manage your weight or even lose some, don't even think about forgoing the first meal of the day.
It Can Lead You to Eat More Later
You know when you haven't eaten in hours and when you finally get food in front of you, you can't help but to eat it all? Yeah, that's basically what happens when you skip breakfast. When lunchtime rolls around, you're more likely to reach for a burger (with the fries) to satisfy your hunger, and that trend continues throughout the day. However, if you start off with breakfast, you'll have an easier time opting for less food and healthier options. "By starting your day with a protein-rich breakfast, you are essentially stabilizing your blood sugars from the start of the day, which will help you make healthier choices throughout the day," Sepel said.
It Can Cause You to Have Mood Swings and Irritability
One word — hangry. We've all been there and yes, it's a real thing. When it happens it's hard to think about anything else. Food is essential for your well-being, and it's important to eat every few hours. Think about it — you just slept for (hopefully) eight hours, and all your body wants is water and food to refuel. Of course, that hunger is going to hit you sooner or later and, when it does, it's likely to come with a less than pleasant mood.
It Can Slow Your Metabolism
Those blood sugar levels just keep getting more and more important! Sepel explained that keeping them stabilized will speed up your metabolism. Studies show that eating breakfast revs up your metabolism, and you're more likely to lose weight and keep it off. "From a nutritionists' perspective, I believe not eating breakfast can affect your blood sugar levels, which can have an impact on your thyroid and your metabolism," Sepel said.
It Can Make It Difficult to Focus
You're probably familiar with that long stretch of time between lunch and dinner. All you can think about is, what can I have for a snack? That's why it's important to always carry an apple or some almonds in your bag! Now imagine having that difficulty focusing throughout most of the day. Eating a nutritious breakfast will combat that feeling and keep your energy levels up. Sepel notices the difference too, noting that she feels ready to take on the day when she starts it off with some good eats. "When I don't eat breakfast, I struggle to focus and definitely suffer from 'brain fog,'" she added.
Bottom line: eat breakfast. Try meal-prepping ahead of time so eating on the go is easy and nutritious! Everyone will be thankful you kept those mood swings away.