Skipping Breakfast? How It's Hurting You and 6 Ways to Love Breakfast Again
Eating breakfast can help you lose weight and even lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Take these steps today to get back into the habit.
If lowering cholesterol, reducing blood sugars, or losing weight are goals of yours, then guess what? Skipping breakfast is working against you!
We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But a lesser known fast is that breakfast is essential for optimal heart and diabetic health, and for achieving a healthy weight.
Here are some convincing reasons why you shouldn’t skip breakfast.
Is Skipping Breakfast Bad for Your Heart?
Those that skip breakfast show higher rates of coronary artery disease, the most common form of heart disease.
The production of cholesterol in your body is linked to your circadian rhythm. Shifting the timing of your three meals to earlier in the day can cause a 20-point drop in cholesterol!
Women who skipped breakfast for just 2 weeks saw a 10-point increase in their LDL (bad) cholesterol levels compared to 2 weeks of consistently eating breakfast.
Does Skipping Breakfast Raise Blood Sugar?
Your body’s ability to tolerate glucose (sugar) worsens throughout the day. For this reason, your blood sugar response can be worse after a late dinner than after eating breakfast.
One study showed that a meal eaten at 8pm caused twice the blood sugar spike compared to the same exact meal eaten at 8am.
Does Skipping Breakfast Help You Lose Weight?
Skipping breakfast and instead eating in the later hours of the evening can promote weight gain. For one, exposure to these more dramatic blood sugar surges (and therefore insulin spikes) later in the day may explain why skipping breakfast promotes weight gain.
In one study women ate less calories throughout the day when they ate breakfast at 8am as compared to when they ate breakfast just a few hours later.
In another study women lost more weight and achieved a thinner waist when they ate a high calorie breakfast compared to women who ate a high calorie dinner for 12 weeks.
Therefore, reintroducing breakfast to your day in addition to gradually shifting your calories into earlier parts of the day can:
Help you lose weight and reduce your waistline
Lower your cholesterol and heart disease risk
Improve blood sugar control
But I get it! If you're not hungry, the last thing you want to do is force yourself to eat. Or if you’re too concerned about feeding the family than you are about feeding yourself, keep it super simple.
If you currently skip this important meal, here are some practical ways to get back into a healthy breakfast habit and LOVE breakfast again!
1. Keep It Simple
Stick with versatile breakfasts that can be thrown together in minutes. Think overnight oats or chia seed pudding, both of which can be a matter of tossing a few ingredients into some jars or a large container and putting them in the fridge overnight.
Here is my go-to Overnight Chia Seed Pudding, a simple breakfast idea that can be made the night before and last for a few days. Chia seeds are an excellent source of fiber and omega-3 fats. Here's my super simple recipe:
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6 tbsp. chia seeds
2 cups unsweetened plant milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Mixed berries or other favorite toppings
Divide the first 4 ingredients up into 3 jars or small containers . Give it a good mix, cover with a lid and place in the fridge overnight. Add mixed berries or other choice toppings in the morning. Three satisfying breakfast meals - done!
A smoothie is a great way to squeeze some veggies into your morning while still eating on the go if needed.
Here is my simple formula - fill your blender cup with:
30-40% veggies (this could be leafy greens, zucchini or even cauliflower)
60-70% fruit (the sweetness will overpower and hide the taste of the veggies)
Something creamy (like banana, avocado, or soy yogurt)
Optional: a tablespoon of chia seeds, flaxseed, or peanut butter
2. Start Small
Not hungry in the morning? Slowly build up your morning appetite by starting small, and I mean really small. Eat something your stomach will be able to handle, such as:
A piece of fruit
A few nuts or trail mix
Small handful of dried fruit
A small bag of dry cereal
As your stomach gets used to this small meal, gradually increase how much you eat without shocking your system. Your body will adjust!
3. Make a Healthy Grab-n-Go
Are you in a rush each morning to get out the door? Take some time on the weekends to bake a batch of plant-based muffins, granola bars, or energy bars. Make a big batch so that you can grab them throughout the week and freeze any that you won't get to that week.
A healthy grab-n-go could also include the overnight oats or chia seed pudding ideas above, placed in jars to eat on the move.
Don’t feel like making a thing? Grab-n-go with these travel-friendly options:
Banana and a single-serve peanut butter cup
Non-dairy yogurt cup
Apple and handful of nuts
4. Cut Out the Late Night Snacking
Snacking at night or eating a late dinner might be the reason why you're not hungry in the morning, because our digestion slows down in sleep mode. If you wake up with a full stomach, you will definitely not be sitting down for a meal anytime soon.
Of course, ditching the late night snacks is easier said than done. Take these steps to slowly cut out this habit:
Eat enough throughout the day so you’re not hungry at night (don’t deprive yourself!)
Find new hobbies that you can engage in during the evening hours, like reading or playing a game with the family
Take time to de-stress at night to avoid stress eating (my go-to is a few minutes of meditation).
5. Get Moving
Jumpstart your metabolism and hunger first thing in the morning. Consider starting your day with:
A quiet morning walk
Quick yoga session
A round of stretches right in your bed
Set yourself and your environment up for success. Put your walking shoes or yoga mat by your bed so that you are prepared the second you wake up.
6. Be Inspired
Do you simply feel like you’re out of options? You want to eat a healthy breakfast but can’t stand the thought of eating oatmeal for the rest of your life? Have no fear. The world of healthy breakfast recipes has taken many creative twists.
Try out some unconventional sweet potato toast 4 way. Simply (but carefully) slice a sweet potato into 1/4-1/2 inch thick slices, pop them in the toaster until they are cooked but still firm enough to hold their shape, and top with your favorite toppings. I love banana with peanut butter or mashed avocado with crushed red pepper flakes.
Make any breakfast delectably sweet with a spoonful of homemade date paste. This high fiber sweetener is high in fiber and smooth like caramel.
Here is another low calorie breakfast idea (just 320 calories) packed with some of the most nutritious foods out there! It features:
Sweet potatoes, which are a great source of fiber, beta carotene, potassium, and vitamin C
Strawberries, which are anti-oxidant powerhouses
Flaxseeds, which are one of the top polyunsaturated fat foods due to their high omega-3 fatty acid content
Mashed Sweet Potato Bowl
1 large sweet potato, cut in half lengthwise
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 banana, sliced
3 strawberries, sliced
1 tbsp. ground flaxseed (buy it ground or grind it yourself in a coffee grinder)
1. Place sweet potato halves in a steamer basket over an inch of water on medium-low heat. Steam for 20 minutes or until fork-tender.
2. Mash sweet potato inside its skin. Scrape insides into a large bowl, add spices and mix well.
3. Top with banana, strawberries, and ground flaxseed.
* Double or triple the recipe, store in the fridge, and enjoy for up to 3 days. This recipe can be portioned out into jars as a healthy grab-n-go breakfast on a busy weekday morning.
If you want to lose weight, lower your cholesterol, or reduce your blood sugars, then skipping breakfast is not the way to go.
The dangers of skipping breakfast include higher cholesterol levels and heart disease risk, blood sugars, and even weight.
Whether you are not hungry in the morning, don’t have the time to prepare a meal, or are just simply not interested, there are practical ways to get back into the breakfast routine.
Be inspired by the easy breakfast ideas above to get you started, keep moving to burn energy throughout the day, and make a habit of prepping breakfast the night before.
Need even more simple breakfast ideas? Check out my FREE Heart Health-Restoring 7-Day Meal Plan for delicious breakfast recipes and more.
Struggling to make heart healthy habits stick? Consider my 6-week online Heart & Diabetic Health: Restored program and learn how to achieve incredible health, for good.