Treat Yourself to Breakfast

The health benefits of eating breakfast are immense.

Healthy Breakfast
Eating a healthy breakfast makes it easier to choose healthier foods all day long.

Begin your day with the first rule: Eat breakfast within 2 hours of getting up. Actually, the 2-hour mark is pushing it — that’s the absolute maximum time you should wait before eating. It’s better to consider eating within the first hour to be your real goal, with an extra hour of leeway if your morning gets out of control.

Research at Harvard University has linked eating breakfast with lower rates of both obesity and insulin resistance. And according to the National Weight Control Registry, a survey of successful dieters, an impressive 78 percent say they eat breakfast every day, while only a minuscule 4 percent say they never do.

Starting your day with a bite to eat is a good idea even if you don’t have diabetes or need to lose weight. The most obvious reason is that your body needs fuel after going many hours without nourishment, and eating breakfast tops off your tank so you feel more energetic and alert. But that’s not all. Getting breakfast into your system kicks your calorie-burning furnace into gear and keeps it burning hot throughout the morning. Otherwise, it will stay on “low” because your body turns it down while you sleep to conserve energy. Eating breakfast gives your body permission to turn up the thermostat so you burn the calories from your morning meal (assuming the portions are reasonable), and the coals stay hot so you’re more likely to burn stored fat.

Eating a healthy breakfast — especially one that contains whole grains, such as wheat or bran cereal — also seems to make it easier to choose healthier foods all day long. Studies confirm that breakfast eaters are better able to resist fatty and high-calorie foods. Need more inspiration? Consider this: In a study from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, overweight women who usually skipped breakfast started eating it every morning, and after three months, they had lost an average of 4 pounds more than women in a group that didn’t eat breakfast.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest