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What Happens If You Don't Eat a Healthful Breakfast?

By August McLaughlin

Breakfast has been coined the "most important meal of the day," and this notion may hold more truth than fable. A healthful breakfast jump-starts your day, provides an opportunity for nourishment and self-care and may significantly influence your moods, energy and abilities for the remainder of the day. Make breakfast convenient by stocking up on healthful fare you enjoy. If you have difficulty sticking to a healthful diet, seek guidance from a qualified professional.

Poor Nutritional Health

Skipping breakfast or making poor breakfast food choices may lead to reduced nutrient intake. A healthful breakfast can put you on track to make wise dietary choices throughout the day. Routine breakfast eaters tend to consume a more healthful overall diet — lower in fat and higher in nutrients — than people who don't eat breakfast. To make the most of your breakfast, aim for a balanced meal containing healthful foods from all vital food groups, including fruits and/or vegetables; a healthful starch, such as whole-grain toast or oatmeal; a lean protein source, such as low-fat milk, yogurt or egg whites; and a healthful fat source, such as nuts, peanut butter or flaxseed.

Reduced Cognitive Function

Not eating a healthful breakfast can lead to reduced cognitive function. In other words, you may experience difficulty concentrating, learning or recalling information or performing well at work or school. In a study published in the "Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism" in 2002, researchers examined the breakfast habits of 97 inner-city elementary school students. One-third of these children were classified as being at "nutritional risk," meaning they consumed few nutrients and/or deficient amounts of calories at breakfast. These students demonstrated poorer attendance and grades and greater tardiness and behavioral problems compared to students who ate more healthful breakfast meals. After six months of eating prepared, healthful breakfasts, students formerly at nutritional risk showed improvements in math scores, behavior and attendance. Researchers concluded that prepared, healthful breakfast meals provide multiple school-related benefits for children. For potentially similar benefits, try planning or preparing healthful breakfast meals in advance.

Low Energy and Moods

Breakfast supplies energy your body utilizes as fuel for daily activities. Skipping breakfast is linked with reduced physical activity. A balanced breakfast promotes healthy blood sugar levels, which is important for preventing energy decline and irritability later in the day. To avoid these risks, steer clear of high-glycemic foods, or foods that have a significant impact on your blood sugar, such as sugary cereals, pastries and white bread. Overeating, particularly fatty foods or refined carbohydrates, at breakfast can also cause lethargy and low moods.

Weight Gain

Poor breakfast habits can also result in weight gain. While many people believe that skipping breakfast promotes weight loss, the opposite is true, according to the Weight-control Information Network. People who skip breakfast tend to carry more body weight than people who eat breakfast and three to four additional meals or snacks daily. Eating too little or skipping your morning meal may lead to excessive hunger, overeating and poor food choices later on. If you're not hungry or feel rushed for time in the morning, enjoy a balanced, healthful snack, such as fruit, yogurt and granola or sliced fruit with low-fat cheese slices. Choose fiber-rich foods, such as oatmeal and whole fruits, over sweets or juices, which are less satiating and provide fewer nutrients.

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