With back to school in full swing, many of us are trying to find ways to set our days up for success. A tried and true method? Eating a hearty breakfast.
You've likely heard that this morning meal is the most important one of the day, and research backs this up. In fact, those who eat a quality breakfast have been shown to have a better health-related quality of life and lower levels of stress and depression than those who eat a poor quality breakfast.1
Particularly in children and adolescents, eating a healthy breakfast may lead to:
And for adults, breakfast eaters appear to have a better memory.2 One study found that those who forego the meal missed out on key nutrients and didn't make up these gaps throughout the day, which could lead to deficiencies.3
For many, mornings can get so hectic that either this meal is skipped or unhealthy choices are made. While dining on sugary pastries can be delicious, eating them won’t provide you with nutrient-dense and balanced meals.
For a filling meal, research suggests aiming for choices with a larger amount of protein, with at least 350 calories.4
So, how are we supposed to eat a balanced meal with the “right” foods on a time crunch?
If you are one of the many people who are rushing out the door in the mornings, here are four ways to pack in more nutrition at breakfast time with little effort.
Eggs are a staple at the breakfast table for good reason. Not only are they a good source of high-quality protein, but they also have many other key nutrients that support brain health and energy levels, like choline, lutein, and vitamin B12.
In a recent study published in the journal Nutrients, researchers found that if children add one egg at breakfast, their usual intakes of pantothenic acid, riboflavin, selenium, and vitamin D increased at least 10%.5
These results suggest that the simple act of adding an egg to a meal can help children get many key nutrients they need for proper growth and development.
Next time, try adding a scrambled egg to your morning toast or grab a hard-boiled egg while you are running out the door.
Juice has gotten a bad reputation over the years for being “sugary.” But as long as you are choosing 100% fruit juice, and not juice with added sugars, this drink can fit into a balanced diet.
Most Americans are not eating the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables every day. Sipping on a glass of 100% orange juice helps you meet strive toward that goal.
Orange juice naturally contains flavonoids or natural compounds that may help support cognitive health. In fact, drinking orange juice has been linked to better performance on some cognitive tests as well as processing speed and attention.6 Researchers have also found a link between the juice and increased blood flow to an area of the brain related to attention.7
Many grab-and-go breakfast options are heavy in carbohydrates. And while they do help give us energy, protein is what is going to help support satiety and keep you full.
If you have time to cook a scrambled egg and turkey bacon in the morning, then keep at it. But if you are pressed for time, adding easy proteins like a piece of cheese, a handful of nuts, or a pre-cooked microwaved chicken sausage patty can help keep minds focused on their work instead of their hunger later in the day.
Smoothies are a go-to for busy folks who love fruit and want something quick and easy. But chopping and measuring on busy mornings can make smoothie prep a no-go.
Making smoothie kits the night before allows you to simply “dump” your ingredients in a blender and sip away in minutes. Chop and measure your ingredients and put them all in a container in the fridge the night before. As you are brewing your morning coffee, toss your container in the blender with some ice and liquid, and you will be good to go.
Don’t forget to add some protein to your concoction to give your smoothie some staying power. Chia seeds, nut butter, protein powder, or Greek yogurt can all be simple sources of protein that can be easily added to your blend.