Breakfast often doesn’t get as much love, as it’s hard to always find the time to prepare something to fuel the morning or to sit down at home for a full meal. Plus, many people aren’t hungry yet, especially those who wake up at super early hours, as they’re still trying to fight the grogginess and wake their bodies up.
However, not fueling for hours after waking up can leave your body in fasting, starvation mode, which doesn’t help the fact that it’s already depleted in nutrients and energy stores from a long period of rest (i.e. however many hours you slept that night).
On the other hand, some people might go overboard with breakfast and eat too much or choose the wrong foods, which can make their days less productive and enjoyable. There are a few common breakfast mistakes, which many people make, without realizing the negative consequences associated with the habit.
Such side effects from poor breakfast habits and food selection include decreased energy and brain power, productivity levels and mood, as well as increased appetite, blood sugar levels and potential weight gain, down the road. Steer clear of these breakfast mistakes that could be jeopardizing your day right from the start.
Grabbing Something Convenient and Lacking in Nutrition When on the Go
Resist the temptation to pick up a sweet coffee and bagel with cream cheese or a sugary pastry from the local coffee shop on mornings where you don’t have much time to sit down to eat before heading out. These pastries and sweet drinks will stimulate you and spike blood sugar but then lead to a crash shortly after, with increased hunger and sugar cravings for the remainder of the day. (And that’s when productivity and energy levels plummet.)
Instead keep breakfast to eat on the go ready at home for those mornings by meal-prepping in the week to prepare. Keep frozen bean and tofu breakfast burritos on hand for immediate access and prepare pre-portioned, packaged smoothie ingredients, sealed and stored in ziploc-sealed bags and stashed in the freezer, so you can blend within seconds, pour and take with you out the door.
Not Eating Enough Protein and Fiber
While you need good, clean fats from healthy sources like nuts, seeds and avocado, as well as other vitamins and minerals and antioxidants for greater energy and sustainability in levels, protein and fiber are two big factors in determining your breakfast’s value. Protein and fiber keep you fuller longer and wake you up, mind and body, and if you just did an a.m. workout, your muscles especially need a good dose of protein and fibrous foods to repair, build, strengthen and refuel those energy-depleted, tired muscles. Eat dairy-free yogurt with nuts and seeds and a serving of blueberries or make a protein smoothie with vegan, wholesome protein powder as a base, along with greens, peanut butter and some fresh fruit, like sliced banana or strawberries.
Don’t have time to make anything? Grab a protein bar, which has a good amount of protein to satisfy your needs, but also provides opportunities to boost nutrition and protein further (think: drizzling nut butter on the bar or chopping it up and adding to a chia seed pudding or dairy-free yogurt with pistachios or walnuts.)
Not Eating Breakfast at All
Sometimes you aren’t ready to be awake and aren’t “with it” just yet, and that means your appetite probably isn’t quite as strong yet either. So, you might skip it and figure you’ll eat when you’re hungry or might save some calories to then use at another point in the day.
Yet, this is the wrong way to approach breakfast! Eating something small will provide fuel to kickstart your morning. Plus, if you just had a workout on an empty stomach, your appetite might be suppressed shortly after finishing your workout and as you get ready for the day at home. This lack of hunger might tempt you to skip breakfast altogether or find it to be not important, but this is a huge mistake though, so prioritize breakfast or at least a snack, no matter what.
The body needs protein, fiber and fat within 30 minutes to an hour max after exercising, along with electrolytes like potassium, calcium and sodium, in order for the body to recover and repair damaged muscles. So, get something in your belly during that a.m. meal, even if it’s not a sit-down dish but rather something easy to eat on the go and of a size that’s easy on your digestion and appetite level but still sufficient in nutrition required during that recovery period and time frame.
Eating Too Large a Meal
On the flipside, some people wake up ravenous (especially after a night of compromised or little sleep, which messes with your hormones, like leptin and ghrelin, which support appetite regulation) and head straight to the fridge and pantry to grab something to eat. Eating too much food for breakfast can leave you feeling cramped in your stomach with pain and bloating (not so fun, as you sit down in your office chair in preparation for a long day ahead), as well as lethargic and less focused.
Plus, apart from the quantity, eating too quickly can also cause indigestion, particularly in those with GI conditions and reflux, and can confuse your body by decreasing the time it’s allowed to register fullness and recognize satiety cues. So, you might reach for another serving of breakfast cereal or another half of a breakfast sandwich since you still feel hungry, but that’s without giving yourself time for the hunger to subside first.
Be mindful to slow down with eating. If it’s about finishing on time for when you have to jet out the door when at home, package the leftovers and store them in a compartmentalized, durable lunch box or in containers or mason jars, where you can finish your breakfast once you get to the office or while on your commute, if possible.
And this is also great if you don’t have too much hunger too, since you can eat half the breakfast upon waking up and then keep the other half for a mid-morning snack once the munchies begin to hit.