Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Or is it? The idea of eating something in the early hours of the day has been a topic of discussion for years in the health and nutrition field. The simple definition of breakfast has been called into question. Is breakfast the first meal you have in the day regardless of what time it occurs? Or, alternatively, is a meal considered breakfast only if it is consumed before 11 am? Does it make a difference if a person is awake at 5am versus 8am?
These are all great questions, and unfortunately some without readily available answers. Here is what we do know however, and hopefully this information can help you decide how to change— or not change your current lifestyle.
The best time to eat is within 60 minutes of waking up. Your blood sugar is naturally low when you wake up, assuming you have had at least seven to eight hours of sleep. Therefore, eating within 60 minutes of getting up can help prevent a complete blood sugar crash. If you ignore this, and just wait until three to four hours after waking up, close to lunch time, you are at high risk of overeating to compensate for the lack of energy because you are feeling post- blood sugar lows. Timing is important after all, but you may not need to sit down and have a complete meal to prevent a crash. Simply consuming 100 to 150 calories of balanced carbohydrates and protein may do the trick.
However, if you do have time to sit down and have a more complete meal in the early hours of the day, you may reap some benefits. Data from combined studies all suggest that individuals who eat a meal in the first hour after waking up are less likely to be overweight since they are better able to control their meal choices for the remainder of the day.
Have you ever gone grocery shopping when you are extremely hungry? You walk out of the grocery store with double the amount of food you realistically need, including a few items you just couldn’t resist — things that you normally would not purchase. The same concept applies to when you skip that first caloric intake of the day. You operate on a brain influenced by lack of fuel. Our brain uses glucose, a form of sugar, as energy fuel. When you don’t have readily available energy, your reaction may be delayed, your ability to think clearly is impaired, and you are at higher risk for making impulsive decisions.
Beyond just helping your weight management strategies by curbing your appetite for the duration of the day, eating breakfast also jumpstarts your metabolism. Eating sets in motion numerous biological processes related to digesting and storing food. These metabolic pathways result in increased energy expenditure, also known as diet induced thermogenesis (DIT). The combination of adequate energy levels post- breakfast and a metabolically active system are positive points leading us to conclude that eating breakfast is indeed a very good idea! This still leaves the question, is it really the “most important meal” of the day?
That is a question that only you can answer! And your answer depends upon your current priorities. If you are in pursuit of a weight loss goal, then yes, this first meal could be the missing link ready to set you on a path to success. However, what you eat for breakfast is likely the more important component.
To fuel our brain, as mentioned above, readily available energy in the form of sugar is necessary. Including fruits and whole grains takes care of that portion. Also, to meet your daily requirement for protein, it is important to consume about 20 percent of your daily protein goal in the morning. Lastly, healthy fats should also have a presence in your first caloric intake for the day. This is not only due to their value as a satiety tool, but also because they contain essential fatty acids along with other nutrients integral to your health.
Many Americans have time constraints as their main obstacle when it comes to adhering to a healthy breakfast routine. That is where the food industry has thrived in marketing on-the-go breakfast foods such as granola bars, pocket sandwiches and morning energy drinks. A cheaper and often healthier option is to make your own on-the-go items when you have time, and store them for the week. Well then, our Tahini and Oats Breakfast Cookie gives you a reason to get up in the morning! The combination of all the health benefits associated with oats’ high fiber content, the plant protein and healthy fats found in almonds and tahini (sesame seed paste), the touch of sweetness from the honey which contains anti-inflammatory properties, covers most of your needs to jump- start your busy day.
They are also convenient for those who get their daily exercise early in the morning. By condensing nutrients and calories into small bite sizes, you can consume something before your workout and avoid common GI- related side effects associated with eating right before aerobic activities. Feel free to tweak the recipe to better fit your needs. Consider perhaps the addition of flax seeds for an even higher content of omegas, fiber and protein, or the substitution of stevia instead of the honey for a lower sugar content. Stay in control of what you eat by selecting the very best ingredients every time you bake. You can count and rely on our nut and seed butters since they (except for lightly sweetened options, just look at the labels) only contain one ingredient!
Tahini and Oats Breakfast Cookie
1/3 cup of Once Again Tahini
1 cup of quick oats
1/3 cup of chopped almonds
1/3 cup of maple syrup or honey
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips or dried cranberries (You can use both!)
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
In medium sized bowl combine tahini and maple syrup (or honey) well. Add in oats, almonds, and cinnamon. Lastly, stir in chocolate chips or dried cranberries. You may also use both, 1/3 cup of each works well. On baking sheet, drop 1 tablespoon of batter for each cookie, and using a fork flatten them to bake evenly. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown on edges. Remove from oven and let it cook for a few minutes before serving. Store in airtight container for 4 days at room temperature, or in refrigerator for up to 7 days.