Breakfast is beneficial, Eagle County | VailDaily.com

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Breakfast is beneficial, Eagle County

HL importance of breakfast 2 KA 05-11-08

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” You’ve heard it all your life, but is it really true? Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? To Polly Perkins, a personal trainer at the Aria Spa and Club in Vail, the answer is yes.

“First thing in the morning you need to wake up and get something in there to get you going for the day,” Perkins said.

But not everybody has the time or the desire for breakfast, however.

Avon resident Ryan Leingang is the assistant superintendent for Country Club of the Rockies, a job that sometimes requires him to be at work before 5 a.m. This early-morning schedule doesn’t leave him much time to do anything in the morning, let alone eat a traditional breakfast. Most days Leingang grabs a granola bar and a can of soda on his way out the door.

That’s not to say that Leingang doesn’t like breakfast. His favorite meal is two eggs over easy, bacon and toast. But on mornings he has to work, getting more sleep is more important to him than getting the right nutrition.

“I do eat breakfast until about mid-summer when I have to work super early in the morning,” Leingang said.

Of course, missing breakfast takes its toll on him around mid-morning, he said. That’s when he gets tired and hunger pains begin to hit.

Skipping breakfast can lower the body’s ability to perform at its peak ” both mentally and physically.

“A lot of people go for the cup of coffee, which is actually an appetite suppressant and then you are running on an empty tank for the day,” Perkins said.

People who eat breakfast (preferably a healthy one) are more likely to consume more vitamins and minerals and less fat and cholesterol throughout the day, control their weight and have greater strength and endurance than those who don’t eat breakfast, according to the Mayo Clinic Web site, http://www.mayoclinic.com.

“Breakfast means break the fast of the night, and it’s intent is to refuel the body after its longest period in the 24-hour period without food,” said Geri Schmidt, doctor of Oriental medicine and nutrition at A Wellness Center in Edwards. Eating breakfast within an hour after you wake up will ensure a necessary quick start to the brain and body, Schmidt said.

Skipping breakfast for any reason can lead to low blood sugar and loss of energy when your body is still trying to wake up and become alert ” affects that can linger for the entire day. The body will also slow down its metabolism in an effort to preserve whatever calories are left over from the night before which can lead to weight gain, Perkins said. Eating first thing in the morning helps to stabilize blood sugar levels, which control appetite and energy. The benefits of eating breakfast far outweigh any excuse to miss the first meal of the day, Schmidt said.

As a matter of fact, in a caffeine-fueled society it seems there is no lack of excuses why people can’t or won’t eat breakfast. Schmidt has heard them all too: Not hungry in the morning, no time, don’t like breakfast foods, trying to lose weight and more.

Schmidt has a counter-argument for every excuse.

For instance, those who aren’t particularly hungry in the morning can eat something light like fruit, yogurt or a soft-boiled egg.

“The reason you don’t have the stomach for it is because you don’t have an appetite developed,” Schmidt said. That appetite can be regained, though.

If it’s the typical breakfast food selection that has you down, switch it up; Schmidt recommends brown rice with vegetables and salmon as an alternative.

“When they say ‘I don’t like breakfast foods,’ they can just substitute anything they want,” Schmidt said. The important thing is that the body is getting some form of nutrition to start the day.

As for the weight-loss excuse Schmidt said her thinnest clients usually eat a hearty breakfast while those trying to lose weight have been skipping breakfast for a long time.

Balance is the key word to a healthy breakfast, Schmidt said. She feels it’s important to eat good carbs like whole grains, good proteins like eggs and some fruit for breakfast. Eggs are one of Schmidt’s biggest recommendations because they are high in protein and healthful antioxidants like lutein (good for the eyes) and choline (an essential nutrient that’s necessary for brain function). But don’t fry them unless you want to destroy all those helpful benefits.

Perkins tries to relate to her clients the importance of a good breakfast by comparing the body to a machine.

“You need to feed the machine. You need to put in the food so it can actually operate healthfully, even if you’re just vegging out for the day,” Perkins said.

High Life writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 970-748-2939 or cowen@vaildaily.com.