Scientists have had a hard time proving a clear link between breakfast and slimming down. Some studies have found that people who eat a morning meal do lose weight, and others say it doesn’t make a difference.

But there is a reason breakfast earned its “most important meal” title. It can help you make healthier choices later in the day. If you skip it and you’re starving by lunch time, it’s harder to choose that salad over a cheeseburger. Plus, if you get energy in early, you have more time to burn it off during the day.    

“Breakfast should be your largest meal,” says John Meigs Jr., MD, president-elect of the American Academy of Family Physicians. “When you load calories at the end of the day, you don’t have time to burn them off. When you go to bed with a full stomach, it’s all packed into storage called fat. You don’t sleep well and then don’t function well the next day.”

You have to eat the right things, though. Powdered doughnuts and a diet soda won’t help. You can get something healthy together no matter how much time you have:

1- If you’ve got time: Scramble some eggs and serve with fruit, and whole-grain wheat toast.

2- If you’re in a rush: Toast some English muffins for ham-and-low-fat-cheese sandwiches. Make breakfast tacos with corn tortillas. Or top unsweetened cereal with some fruit.

3- If you’re running out the door: Microwave some eggs, toast a whole-grain frozen waffle, or even peanut butter sandwiches will do in a pinch. Or at least grab a banana.

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