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The Most Important Meal of the Day

The Most Important Meal of the Day

Eating a nutritious breakfast is associated with many health benefits.

In Groundhog Day, Phil Connors (Bill Murray) declares the upside of living the same day over and over is that he can indulge in the decadent breakfast of his dreams every day. “Don’t you worry about cholesterol, lung cancer, love handles?” asks his coworker. “I don’t even have to floss,” he replies smugly, as he stuffs cake into his mouth.

That’s certainly not what nutritionists mean when they advise you to eat “the most important meal of the day.”

To gain breakfast’s health benefits, the meal should be 13+ hours after your last one and consist of lower glycemic index foods (100 percent whole grains; no added sugars or processed carbs) and lean proteins (egg whites; broiled, skinless chicken; or salmon burgers). That’ll improve your concentration at the office or school, protect healthy HDL cholesterol levels, promote lower blood pressure and help you dodge diabetes. In contrast, skipping breakfast can promote weight gain and lots of associated health risks.

A study from the University of Bath in the UK randomly assigned 12 men to one day of eating milk and porridge (oatmeal) for breakfast and then cycling for an hour, and another day of cycling but with no breakfast. Turns out, eating breakfast was associated with burning more carbs during the same workout! And remember, it’s also a healthy move to eat a smaller and earlier dinner. Dr. Mike’s book (due out January ’19) What to Eat When will tell you more about how to make these changes to your eating habits really fun.

Medically reviewed in December 2018.

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