If you remember nothing else, remember this: eating breakfast is important. In today’s post, we dive into why breakfast is important for brain functioning and some ideas for those who aren’t breakfast eaters.
Growing up, you’ve probably heard dozens of “fun facts” such as swallowed gum doesn’t digest for seven years, the Great Wall of China is the only man-made object visible from space, and breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
The fact is, a lot of these parables have been proven wrong, but eating breakfast every morning remains important and true to this day.
As a student, or someone who works while going to school, you may lean towards skipping breakfast due to a conflicting schedule, lack of sleep, or just not feeling very hungry in the morning. Add getting the kids ready for school or taking the dog out, your time for a morning meal may be nonexistent.
Unfortunately, skipping breakfast on a daily basis will derive your body of the energy needed to kick start your metabolism and the calories to fuel your brain. If you fall into the group of people who don’t consume breakfast in the morning, you’re causing harm to your diet and the ability to do well in school.
Don’t view breakfast as a task. Look at it as a moment in the morning where you can prepare for the day ahead.
Pump Up Your Concentration
You can’t learn if you can’t concentrate, and having nutrition for the day helps your concentration. To get an advantage on your mental edge, start eating breakfast before going to class.
Studies have shown that consuming a meal in the morning is a great way to improve your concentration for better memory retention. Why? Because when you give your body the fuel it needs to operate, your body maintains the proper amount of sugar levels to improve your overall attention span.
Without having food for fuel, your body will enter into a state of ketosis and begin to starve. If you have a limited amount of glucose in your blood, your system will find other forms of energy, in this case breaking down body fat into fatty acids for fuel.
When this happens, your brain will have a harder time concentrating as the acids impair normal brain functions.
Score Higher on Exams
The benefits of eating breakfast go beyond having an improved concentration. According to a study published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health, students who eat breakfast tend to score higher than those who don’t. They concluded, “breakfast consumption on school days is a significant correlate of adolescents’ academic performance at age 16–18 years after controlling for covariates”.
The study found that those who only had breakfast up to one time throughout the school week had significantly lower performance than those who had breakfast 4-5 times throughout the week on school days. Students who do not have the opportunity to eat manage to achieve an average of two grades lower within the UK school system.
These results support the notion that without the energy boost in the morning, one can lose a significant amount of mental cognition, experience decreased thinking ability, and have an overall slower problem-solving ability.
A Better State of Mind
Being a student isn’t always about having the best concentration or the highest grade. You can’t get to that level if your emotions aren’t in the right place. Supplying your body with the essential vitamins and minerals can help you start your day in the right mood to do well.
Researchers at Research Schools International found that, on average, consistently happy students had a positive correlation with a higher GPA. Even if external factors bring you to stress, eating breakfast can guide your mind in the right place by boosting your levels of dopamine, tyrosine, and norepinephrine.
Tips for Success
The fact is, you may not want to or don’t have time to eat breakfast at home. You may think coffee is a great way to gain energy (hint: it’s not). Here are a few tips for building a better morning eating routine:
- Keep it light: You don’t need to go all out and have a breakfast made for a king. Start light with an apple and a cup of yogurt. This way, you don’t have to wake up early and cook a full meal.
- Meal prep: Cooking food the day or night beforehand can make it easier to eat something in the morning as you won’t have to think about preparation. This way, you can hit the snooze button a few times and ease the stress of having a morning meal.
- Wake up 15 minutes earlier: Waking up just a bit earlier can make a difference in your routine. Not only will it give your mind time to wake up, it can open a window to pull together a quick meal.
- Don’t eat before bed: It’ll be easier to feel hungry in the morning when you didn’t eat anything the night before; thus, increasing the chance of wanting to consume breakfast.
What You Eat Matters
When you do eat in the morning, don’t just grab the first thing you see in the fridge. What you eat will matter for the rest of the day. According to Erica Giovinazzo, MS, RD, a nutritionist in New York City, you should have breakfast that contains good carbs, protein, and fiber.
These three things can help you control your blood sugar, cholesterol, and insulin levels to better perform throughout the day. So switch out the Pop Tarts for high fiber fruits, sugary granola bars for whole nuts, and pancakes for pure oats.
To make things easier, here are some healthy breakfasts you can quickly whip up in the morning.
5 Breakfasts You Can Make in 5 Minutes or Less
- Overnight Oats: There are dozens of recipes with all kinds of ingredients (we’re looking at you chia seeds), but a simple recipe is ¼ cup yogurt, ¼ cup milk, ½ cup oats, 2 TBSP peanut butter. Put it in the fridge overnight, and you’ve got a ready-to-eat/will-travel breakfast come morning.
- Peanut Butter & Banana wrap or toast: Simple – grab a banana, some peanut butter, and whole-wheat toast or a whole wheat wrap. Spread, slice & eat. Bonus: make wrap the night before for grab ‘n go sustenance.
- Wasa Crackers + cottage cheese: Little bit of fiber, little bit of protein, easy AF breakfast.
- Veggie patty + cheese sandwich: We like Dr. Pragers Cali burgers or Morningstar Garden Veggie. Toast some whole-wheat bread, grab a slice of cheese, microwave that patty and you’ve got a nifty little breakfast sandwich.
- Smoothie: So. Many. Options. Just like the overnight oats, a yogurt + milk + protein combo is easy and nutritious. We recommend peanut butter & banana, protein powder, and any frozen fruit. You can even go crazy and throw in some spinach or even (gasp!) kale.
Just like with every new habit (like making sure you get enough rest), the process of eating breakfast will take some time to get used to. Do your best to eat, even if it’s not much at all. The goal is to give your body and mind the proper resources to help to do better academically.