There is truth to the saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. How we choose to fuel our body at the start of the day can largely impact our mood, focus, energy, and food choices. Not only that, but breakfast is key in jumpstarting our metabolism so that we can efficiently break down food and burn calories throughout the day. Studies have shown that neglecting nutritious food before starting a long work day can have detrimental effects to our work performance. When we eat foods that are highly refined at the start of the day—including sugary breakfast cereals, pastries, or fried foods—we actually increase inflammation and stress hormone production. While we may feel a sense of comfort when eating these foods in the moment, they can actually cause us to feel irritable, sleepy, and less focused throughout the day.
Why is it that we start to crave sugar when we’re stressed? When we’re under chronic stress, our brain sends out signals to our body for instant energy (i.e. glucose or sugar) to function. This causes a stress-induced sugar craving cycle that originates from elevated levels of the stress hormone (cortisol), causing us to crave these high-energy sugary foods. However, highly-refined, sugary foods will induce large spikes and drops in blood sugars, which also contribute to these cravings for more throughout the day.
An ideal breakfast will not only provide your body with substantial energy, but will control hunger by keeping blood sugar levels consistent throughout the day. By choosing breakfast foods that are low-glycemic, you’ll avoid large changes in blood sugar and cravings for these high-energy foods. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, a healthy, well-rounded breakfast can boost productivity levels, as the quality of food we choose to fuel at the start of the day has a direct impact on our cognitive performance.
You’ll want to include both dietary fiber and protein in your breakfast, both of which will promote feelings of fullness throughout the day and keep blood sugar levels balanced. Additionally, healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, and seeds are also recommended to start your day. Healthy fats are key sources of fuel for optimizing cognitive function and mental clarity, and provide the most energy per gram while keeping blood sugars balanced. The foundation for a filling breakfast is one that consists of whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, and lots of fruit and veggies.
Here are three of our favorite Challenge-approved breakfast options that’ll help get your morning off to a great start:
A powerhouse combination of rolled oats, banana, and natural peanut butter, this high-fiber breakfast will stabilize blood sugars and keep you feeling energized all day long. Rolled oats are low-glycemic to prevent large spikes in blood sugars that would normally contribute to sugar cravings. Top it off with quality, organic, unsweetened peanut butter and chopped walnuts for an extra boost of healthy fats and protein.
This simple, delicious breakfast can be whipped up in 5 minutes and is the ultimate energy booster for a productive morning. Avocados are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for brain function. You can choose a whole-grain ezekiel or gluten-free bread, then top with mashed avocado, sliced cherry tomatoes, and drizzle with a quality balsamic vinegar!
This savory breakfast bowl is loaded with all the best nutrients to get your day off to an energizing start. Black beans are rich in dietary fiber to promote feelings of fullness, and eggs are a rich source of protein to stabilize blood sugars and curb cravings throughout the day. Garlic and lime are the ultimate flavor boosters to top off this protein-packed breakfast.