Health professionals have long extolled the benefits of eating breakfast and advocated for making the most of this morning meal. Yet, we still find Americans, both young and old, are skipping breakfast. A 2015 survey of 10,000 people from Instantly revealed that less than half of Americans eat breakfast every day. That’s a lot of breakfast slackers!
Breakfast is an opportunity to consume more nutrients, such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and protein, to boost energy and thinking power. These added nutrients enhance critical thinking and bolster energy, so you can be at your best. And, breakfast eaters have been shown to be healthier eaters throughout the day – yet another good reason to eat your morning meal.
In addition to these benefits, for people with diabetes, there’s much more at stake when it comes to missing breakfast. A randomized clinical trial published last year in the journal Diabetes Care evaluated the effects of skipping breakfast on blood glucose levels after lunch and dinner in subjects with Type 2 diabetes. The results showed that when the participants fasted until lunch, they had much greater spikes in blood sugar after lunch and dinner, as compared to days when they ate breakfast. The common thinking is if you don’t eat food in the morning, or skip breakfast, you should have better blood glucose readings. But this study showed that the insulin response to eating lunch and dinner was blunted when the subjects skipped breakfast. Most importantly, as the researchers pointed out, these blood glucose spikes and high after-meal blood glucose levels over the long term are strongly linked to cardiovascular complications for people with Type 2 diabetes.
If you’re stumped on what to eat for breakfast, there is research to help us here too. A healthy breakfast includes lean protein, and studies show having protein at breakfast can help prevent spikes in blood sugar levels for people with Type 2 diabetes. So how much protein should you eat? Based on research, you should aim to eat 25 to 30 grams of protein for this meal; this equates to 1 cup of milk plus two eggs or 6 ounces of Greek yogurt plus 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, and is within the recommendations from the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
In addition to consuming lean protein, you should eat healthy carbohydrates, such as whole grains, fruit, vegetables or beans, at breakfast. The amount of carbohydrates a person should eat varies by the individual. A study in Diabetes Care found that both high- and low-carbohydrate diets had health benefits. So work with your dietitian and check your blood glucose levels before and two hours after meals to determine how many carbohydrates you should be eating to best manage your diabetes.
Still not sure what to eat? Try these quick, healthy breakfast ideas:
- Plain Greek yogurt (7 ounces) with 3/4 cup of blueberries, cinnamon and 1 ounce of almonds
- Three egg whites plus black beans wrapped in a small whole-grain tortilla
- Top one slice of whole-grain bread with 3/4 cup cottage cheese sprinkled with cinnamon, a sugar substitute and 1 ounce of sliced almonds. Broil in the oven until the cheese starts to melt.
- Four ounces smoked salmon with chopped cucumber and tomato on a whole-grain English muffin
You’ve probably heard the saying “timing is everything.” Though there are other factors to consider here, timing is clearly important when it comes to diabetes and food. So take a moment to enjoy breakfast, and have confidence that your blood sugar will actually improve.