A popular idea among adults and adolescents is to skip breakfast in order to lose weight. However, this act of skipping breakfast usually leads to weight gain according to Lindsey Stevenson, nutrition and health specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
“Breakfast skippers often feel famished or starved before lunch time so they turn to munching on unhealthy snacks like chips or candy, or they overeat throughout the day,” Stevenson said. “Limiting oneself to just two meals a day typically leads to consuming way too many calories in those two sittings, as opposed to spreading one’s daily caloric intake over three meals.”
Consuming two calorie-dense meals leads to large spikes in glucose and insulin levels according to Stevenson. Large spikes of glucose in response to the foods consumed during a meal causes the pancreas to release large amounts of insulin which helps cells use the glucose for energy, but also promotes fat synthesis of excess glucose.
“When there is more glucose in the bloodstream than what the body can use, insulin signals a conversion of glucose into a fat molecule so that the energy is not wasted, but rather stored up for use at a later time,” Stevenson said.
The large spike in glucose and insulin levels is followed by an equally dramatic drop in glucose and insulin levels, which signals to the body that it is time to eat again, even though it’s just a few hours after a heavy caloric meal was consumed.
“Benefits of eating a well-balanced, healthy breakfast include improved academic or professional performance such as being more alert, having better concentration on the tasks, and being more creative,” Stevenson said. “Research has shown that those who choose to eat healthy breakfasts tend to eat healthy meals and snacks throughout their day.”
Stevenson offers several simple healthy breakfast ideas that are quick and healthy.
Try a small whole-wheat bagel with peanut butter, a banana, and a glass of skim or low-fat milk. Oatmeal with skim or low-fat milk topped with dried or fresh fruit and chopped nuts is another good option. A breakfast parfait made with low-fat and low-sugar yogurt, fresh or frozen fruit, and homemade granola is an excellent choice too. Another good choice is a sandwich made with a whole grain English muffin, turkey bacon, and low-fat cheese.
“If you are one of the many adults or adolescents who skip breakfast, set a goal for yourself to start eating breakfast this month and make it a habit,” Stevenson said.
HOMEMADE GRANOLA RECIPE
Serves 9 (half-cup servings)
Prep time: 15 minutes, Cook time: 10-15 minutes
4 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons canola oil
One-half teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
4 Tablespoons sliced or chopped almonds (or your nut of choice)
Non-stick cooking spray
One-half cup dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, apricots, dates, or prunes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, add honey, oil, and cinnamon. Whisk with a fork. Add oats and nuts. Stir until well-coated with honey mixture. Coat a baking sheet with non-stick spray (or cover with parchment paper). Spread oat mixture evenly onto sheet. Bake until lightly browned, about 10-15 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes to cook evenly. Watch closely to be sure granola does not burn. Remove from oven. Let cool completely. Transfer cooled granola to a medium bowl and stir in dried fruit.
Granola can be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to three weeks, so it’s a good recipe that can be made in large batches ahead of time to be used later. Granola is versatile and can be used as a cereal, a snack, in a yogurt parfait, or to top off a fruit salad.
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For more information about nutrition, call the MU Extension Center in Houston at 417-967-4545. The regional office of the Family Nutrition Education Program is located in Springfield and can be reached at 417-886-2059. Nutrition information is also available online http://extension.missouri.edu.