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What’s the Macro on Eating Breakfast

Photo: Courtesy of Jennifer Pallian

I suspect it’s a matter of time. Modern life continually asks us to squeeze in more things, which means others things get squeezed out. So eating breakfast has, unfortunately, been pushed to the back burner. But skipping breakfast is not a good time-saving choice. And here’s why.

The breakdown

In the simplest terms: our bodies need nutrients from food to function, and we need to get these daily. Macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, fat) provide calories for energy, and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals) have dozens of functions in our bodies. We need these nutrients in different amounts.

To keep things simple for yourself, think about the five food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy). Each food group provides significant amounts of some nutrients and not others. So when you get a variety of foods across and within the food groups, your nutrient requirements will be covered. Together, these nutrients keep us running smoothly, help us grow, and assist us when we need repairs.

By the time you wake up, you probably haven’t fed your 37 trillion cells for 10 to 12 hours, and now they’re hungry. You need a supply of nutrients swirling through your blood so you can do all you need this morning. If you regularly skip breakfast or any meal during the day, it’s simply harder to get all the nutrients your body needs. Everything you eat and drink over time matters, and breakfast is a great opportunity to incorporate healthful foods in your daily eating style.

Making an effort

Breakfast can be as simple as a piece of fruit and some toast, a breakfast bar and a yogurt, a bowl of cereal topped with fruit, a handful or package of unsalted nuts, or some dinner leftovers. Get creative in your quickness, but be smart about it. There are some breakfast bars that are no better than candy bars, and there are some cereals with sugar as the first ingredient. That quick sugar rush is not doing your body any favors.

Without mincing words: Make time for breakfast. It’s worth it.

David Herring, M.S., Nutritionist, USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, [email protected]

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