Health Benefits of Breakfast: 3 Reasons Not To Skip Your Morning Meal

Photo credit: Matt @ PEK from Taipei, Taiwan [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

How many times have you woke up in a hurry, got ready, and rushed out the door without a second thought to eating breakfast? We’ve all been there and have suffered the consequences when mid-morning hits and we are starving and ready to eat the first unhealthy thing we come across. Avoiding this trap and making breakfast a part of your daily routine can not only add to the success and productivity of your day, but also begin your path to a healthier lifestyle. Here are just a few benefits of this important daily meal.

Increased energy level – You will find that by eating a healthy breakfast your energy level is much higher throughout the day. You will be more productive and less inclined to eat that unhealthy bag of chips calling your name. Breakfast provides the right kind of nutrients our body needs to get through the day and be the best version of ourselves. We will be much more likely to focus on productivity when we routinely give our bodies the fuel it needs to carry on.

Weight Control – It’s been said that those who tend to eat breakfast in the mornings are more likely to lose weight or simply not weigh as much. That being said, it makes sense because we don’t find ourselves bogged down with those nasty cravings that come with not eating anything in the morning. We tend to make healthier choices throughout the day when we aren’t starving and looking for anything to satisfy us. You need breakfast to get give your metabolism a boost so you can burn more calories throughout the day.

Happier and Healthier – Eating breakfast routinely every morning will not only start you on the path to a healthier life but also cause you to have a better, happier attitude. We are mentally and physically able to focus on things that matter when we give our bodies the right kind of nutrition. This means staying away from sugar and caffeine and consuming more whole grains, dairy, and fruit. Studies have shown that people who skip breakfast tend to be grouchier throughout the day. When you deprive your body of the fuel it needs, it affects all aspects of your life.

There are huge benefits to getting into a routine each morning and eating a healthy breakfast. This one meal sets the tone for the entire day and our mood and physical well-being is affected by it. You will not only be more productive but your overall health will improve by just making a few changes to your daily routine. Rather than rushing through those early morning hours give yourself a little more time in the morning to plan a healthy meal. The success of your day depends on how you start it out.

 

 

The Cumulative Effects of Exercise

Our activities tend to have a cumulative effect. Everything we do, from the food we eat, to the way we exercise, affects our health and has an effect on the people around us. It adds up. Eating all those extra calories will result in added pounds and fat. Walking a few extra minutes every day adds up to greater weight-loss, firmer muscles and a healthier body.

Photo credit: “Mike” Michael L. Baird [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Exercise helps improve the health of your whole body, including firmer muscles and stronger joints. You can lose weight and maintain your current weight by exercising regularly. Exercise not only benefits your body, but also has a positive effect on every one in your life. You will have more energy and stamina to handle the day-to-day chores, such as taking care of children, working, mowing your lawn or cleaning out your garage. Exercise helps boost your energy and creates a sense of well-being as your brain produces endorphins. You will probably sleep better at night, too.

Greater energy and stamina, as well as a healthy, firm body, can lead to greater self-confidence. This new-found self-confidence will shine through in everything you do at work and at home. Regular exercise combined with a healthy diet can help improve your metabolism, which will increase your energy levels. You may find that you can think more clearly as your physical health improves. Exercising with friends and family can also help strengthen your relationships. Stronger relationships can lead to a happier life.

Have you noticed that when you yawn, people around you start to yawn? It is contagious. The same is true of your mood. When you are happy, people around you tend to catch the happy mood. As your physical health and mood improves, you will notice that your mood is also improving. Your family and co-workers will notice your happier state too. Small annoyances that used to ruin your day may have no effect on you now that you are exercising regularly. You may even notice that you don’t mind the delay in traffic or the slow checkout clerk at the grocery store. The longer your exercise on a regular basis, the greater the happy effect will become.

The more you exercise the greater your health, strength and stamina. Regular exercise improves not only your physical health, but your mental health as well. Improved relationships with everyone in your life, in turn, improves your mood and outlook even more. It all adds up to a happier, healthier you.

 

 

8 Foods to Boost Energy

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The saying, “You are what you eat” rings so true for many of us, and who doesn’t want more energy on a daily basis? This article highlights 8 readily available foods to keep energy levels up and spirits high.

WATER

Though technically not a food, water is our number one essential life force! Did you know that at the first moment of thirst, our bodies are already in dehydration mode? Thirst is the body’s signal of a desperate need to hydrate. Water helps to carry nutrients to your cells, and many of us are lacking hydration on a daily basis. At the first sign of sluggishness, drink a large glass of water. Chances are, you’ll perk up! You will always feel best when you are properly hydrated.

FRESH FRUIT

Fruits contain carbohydrates and sugar, both of which turn to glucose and all of which have gotten a bad wrap in recent years. But in proper doses, they are essential for your body to function energetically. Glucose is easily metabolized into quick energy, making fruits a great pre-workout snack. Some great choices include bananas, grapes, apples, citrus fruits and dates.

NUTS

Nuts contain great healthy protein, fats and fiber that help keep you full. They contain an array of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin E, and are high in omega-3s. Nuts also contain magnesium, which helps the body convert nutrients into energy.  A small handful (about ¼ cup) packs a powerful energy punch.

EGGS

There’s a reason why eggs have been a staple breakfast food for centuries. Eggs are full of amino acids such as leucine, which plays an integral role in how muscles use glucose. Eggs also contain B vitamins such as riboflavin, folate, B12 and B6, vitamins all essential for energy production. Because of this, eggs are said to be helpful with endurance training.

Having a proper breakfast also jump-starts your metabolism for the rest of the day, so eat those eggs!

QUINOA

Quinoa is one of “nature’s perfect foods” and boasts itself as one of the most protein rich foods that we can eat. It is a complete protein on its own, meaning that it contains all 9 essential amino acids. Quinoa is high in Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), which helps in the production of energy within our cells. B2 also improves energy metabolism within brain and muscle cells, and helps cells release energy from carbohydrates, fats and proteins.

DARK LEAFY GREENS

Green leafy vegetables are true nutritional powerhouses and are some of the most nutrient-dense foods in existence. They are packed with vitamins and minerals that contribute to stable blood sugar levels that in turn help maintain energy levels. Dark leafy greens are also full of iron, which is essential in maintaining red blood cell health throughout the body. Red blood cells are full of oxygen, and iron allows for them to move around at maximum potential. Greater oxygen distribution leads to more alertness and higher concentration capabilities. Popeye was definitely onto something!

KOMBUCHA

Kombucha is a fermented tea drink that has amazing detoxifying and probiotic properties. These detoxifying effects allow for your body as a system to function to its greatest potential. This means that on a cellular level, things are running smoothly and your body can use its energy sources efficiently. In short, this means more energy for you!

DARK CHOCOLATE

We’re talking the good stuff here. In small amounts, dark chocolate with higher cacao content can have some positive effects on your energy levels. Besides containing a small (and safe) amount of caffeine, it contains vitamins and a stimulant similar to caffeine called theobromine. When choosing a bar, the darker the better. If you can also keep the ingredient list to a minimum, this ensures whole ingredients that are less processed and easier for your body to process and reap the benefits.

 

Don’t Make Excuses! Exercise!

 

It can be difficult to overcome excuses not to exercise. You know you should get moving. You know that people who exercise regularly are healthier and less likely to develop diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. You have also heard that people who exercise are usually happier and sleep better than people who rarely or never exercise. You need at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week. Walking, jogging, riding a bicycle or even doing work around the house, such as mowing the lawn, are good ways to exercise. What’s your excuse for not exercising? Here are some tips about overcoming excuses so you can get moving and get fitter.

You may say that you don’t have time to exercise. A busy lifestyle with work, kids, social commitments and duties does not have to prevent you from exercising regularly. A few minor adjustments to your lifestyle can help provide ample time to workout. Three days each week, trade your television time for exercise time. Instead of spending an hour in front of the television, workout for 30 minutes or go for a brisk walk before or after your favorite television program. You don’t have to exercise for 30 straight minutes. Break up your workout into three 10 minute sessions throughout the day. Ride a bicycle to work or walk if you can. Park your car a couple of blocks from work and walk. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

You may put off exercising because you think it’s boring to trudge along on a treadmill or pedal a stationary bike for 30 minutes. Exercise does not have to be boring. Do the kinds of activities you like to do or try something new. Music lovers can take a dance class, such as salsa or ballroom dancing. Take tennis lessons or join a dance aerobics group. Start a walking group with your best friends or co-workers. Exercise doesn’t have to be boring. Working out with a group is a great way to spend time with old friends or make new friends.

You probably feel tired after a long day at work. You may be tempted to put up your feet and zone out in front of the television for a couple of hours instead of exercising. Exercise will actually help you feel stronger and more energized. Exercise increases your heart rate and your respiration to move more oxygen through your body. Your brain will release hormones called endorphins, which will help improve your mood. You will feel better physically and emotionally after a good workout.

Eat Before Or After A Workout?

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There can be some confusion about whether you should eat before, during or after a workout for maximum energy, but still burn excess calories to lose weight and burn fat. Your body needs energy to keep it functioning at peak efficiency. You need nutrients including vitamins, minerals and protein to help build and repair muscles and keep cells free of toxins. You should eat a healthy diet from all the major food groups and include enough complex carbohydrates to provide the energy you need. Drink plenty of water before, during and after a workout to replace lost water due to sweating. 
You should not start a workout when you are hungry. You will not have the energy or nutrients needed to maximize your workout. Low blood sugar resulting from fasting can cause you to feel weak, and in some cases, lightheaded. If your blood sugar is very low,  you could even lose consciousness for a brief time. This can be dangerous. Don’t fast before a workout. About one hour before a workout, eat foods that have a high  glycemic index, such as fruits, whole grain breads and pastas. Avoid eating too much fiber before a workout because it can make you feel sluggish. Select quick digesting foods that are rich in carbohydrates. 
Keep your body hydrated and fueled during high intensity workouts that last 45 minutes or longer. Keep a bottle of water handy and drink from it frequently during your workout. Sports drinks with electrolytes are also a good choice to replace salts and minerals lost through sweating and to maintain the electrolyte balance in your body. A granola bar is a good choice for a quick snack if you feel hungry during your workout. 
After an intense workout that lasts more than 45 minutes or longer, you will need to replenish your protein and sugar stores. A high protein peanut butter sandwich, 8 ounces of water and a banana can provide your body with the vitamins, minerals, protein and carbohydrates necessary to repair tissues and recover from a strenuous workout. Yogurt, natural fruit juice (no added sugar) and some nuts, such as walnuts or almonds, granola or sliced fruit can help replenish depleted nutrients.  

For information about what you should eat for energy, see:
WebMD, What to Eat Before, During and After Exercise, by  Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD

Energy Boosting Snacks

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Do you feel drained of energy in the afternoon? Fatigue in the afternoon is not uncommon. Some people go for a quick sugar fix to boost their energy. Sugary snacks, like candy bars and soda, will boost your energy in the short term, but you will crash after a short time and may even feel more fatigued than before. Sugary snacks and sodas also add unwanted calories and caffeine. Natural sugars and carbohydrates can give you a boost of energy that lasts without the crash. You will also enjoy the added benefits of nutritional vitamins, minerals and trace elements that your body needs. 
Nuts and seeds are high in fiber and protein that will help you feel full and boost your energy level. Walnuts and almonds are delicious and an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids that help boost your brain. Almonds also contain manganese, vitamin E, magnesium, copper and vitamin B2. Manganese is an important trace element that improves sleep, helps your muscles to relax, boosts your immune system and helps improve your overall mood. The protein in nuts helps to stabilize your blood sugar and is slow to digest. A handful of nuts in the afternoon can boost your energy and help to curb your appetite.
Whole grain snacks such as granola bars or crackers contain many nutrients and complex carbohydrates that can help boost your energy and relieve afternoon fatigue. Whole wheat snacks contain iron, protein, manganese, magnesium, fiber, and vitamins B1, B2 and B3. B-vitamins help fight fatigue, stabilize blood sugar and maintain energy levels. Complex carbohydrates are digested and absorbed slowly, which means your energy boost can last for hours. 

A cup of yogurt can provide a boost of energy and calcium, protein, zinc and phosphorus. Most brands of yogurt also contain vitamins B2, B5 and B12. Yogurt is easy to digest and quickly absorbed by the body. You will get a quick boost of energy, which will last much longer than a sugar boost from a candy bar or soda. Yogurt also contains tyrosine, which is an  amino acid that stimulates the production of neurotransmitters in the brain for improved mood and brain function. Add some fresh fruit to a cup of yogurt for extra natural sugar energy and nutrients. 

Morning Exercise to Energize Your Day

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We’ve all had days when we didn’t want to get out of bed. To energize your body for the day ahead, try doing some Pilates or other exercises right in your bed. Stretching exercises in your bed before you go down for your morning coffee and breakfast can jump-start your metabolism. A morning workout in your bed can help you have more energy for your regular workout routine later in the day. Your mind and body will be prepared to take on whatever challenges come your way throughout the day. Throw back the covers and exercise!
After hours of sleeping, your back may feel a bit stiff. Roll your body into a ball to stretch out  your spine and work your abs. Sit up in bed and bring your knees to your chest. Hold your knees with your hands and then curve your back by bending forward over your knees. Roll back on the bed on your back and then roll to the upright position again. Perform this exercise for 10 repetitions. 
Strengthen and energize your core muscles by doing some leg lifts next. Stretch out on your bed with your legs extended and your arms relaxed by your side. Point your toes toward the ceiling. Lift your left heel off the bed about 12 inches. Lower your left leg until your heel is about 1 inch from the bed. Hold your leg off the bed for about 10 seconds and then raise your leg back up. Repeat 10 times for each leg. 
Bring your knees up to your chest and point your toes. Lift your head and shoulders off the bed using only your abdominal muscles. Hold this position for about 10 to 15 seconds and then relax. Repeat this exercise 10 times. Stretch your abdominal and back muscles next by bending your knees so that your lower legs are parallel to the bed. Keep your feet and knees together and your shoulders flat against the bed. Swing both knees to the right side of the bed. Try to keep your shoulders on the bed. Hold for 10 seconds and then swing your legs to the left side. Do 10 repetitions for each side.