an egg yolk in the shape of an exclamation point on toast

Breakfast Matters

For as long as I can recall, breakfast has been touted as the day's most important meal. However, in America, breakfast is the most commonly skipped meal. Common reasons for skipping breakfast include not being hungry or having time to eat, or omitting breakfast to lose weight.

However, growing evidence shows that individuals who habitually skip breakfast are at increased risk for unwanted weight gain, obesity, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes. If you have pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes, you may feel concerned about how eating first thing in the morning impacts your blood sugar control; you may also be uncertain about what to eat.1-3

We will review the health benefits of eating breakfast and offer suggestions on creating a healthy, well-balanced breakfast.

What makes a nutritious breakfast?

Breakfast should include nutrient-dense foods that provide unprocessed carbohydrates, lean proteins, and healthy fats. This combination of nutrients will help you feel satisfied for a more extended period.

In addition, the following components of breakfast may also help keep you feeling full:1

  • Increase the protein amount to approximately 30 grams per meal
  • Choose solid foods over liquid foods
  • Eat a more calorie-dense meal at breakfast to result in fewer calories consumed later

If you are typically not hungry for breakfast, try to eat something small 1 to 2 hours after waking up, such as half of a banana with peanut butter or a slice of whole-wheat toast with almond butter. Just a little something at breakfast might go a long way.

People who eat breakfast report greater fullness and an increase in the hormones associated with fullness compared to people who don't eat breakfast. And, breakfast eaters tend to have a higher quality diet than those who skip breakfast altogether.1,2

The benefits of eating breakfast

So, what has research shown about the benefits of eating breakfast? Eating breakfast can help you stay focused on complex tasks, especially associated with work. Breakfast will help refuel your body following physical activity and keep you fueled throughout the day if you usually exercise in the morning.

Those who eat breakfast tend to have better appetite regulation and are less likely to overeat later in the day, which may help prevent unwanted weight gain compared to people who do not eat breakfast. And specifically in people with type 2 diabetes, consistently eating breakfast can improve glycemic control, and people who skip breakfast tend to have worse glycemic control, including more glycemic variability and a higher A1c level.2

Tips for eating breakfast on-the-go

If you tend to skip breakfast because you don't have time to make a meal, you can try to prepare your breakfast the night before. Some people enjoy a drinkable Greek yogurt and a snack bag of almonds for breakfast. This is quick to grab and easy to eat while on a commute. Ever thought of eating last night's dinner for breakfast? Breakfast does not need to consist of the "traditional" breakfast foods!

Diabetes-friendly breakfast ideas

In addition to the breakfast recipes archive, here are a few quick diabetes-friendly breakfast ideas:

Oatmeal

Combine ½ cup oatmeal with ½ cup of milk and top with slivered almonds. For a boost of vitamins, add freshly sliced tomatoes and fresh berries. If more protein is desired, add Greek yogurt, walnuts, or turkey sausage.

Approximate nutrition facts:

  • 385 calories
  • 39g carbohydrate
  • 15g protein

Cottage cheese

Enjoy 1 cup of cottage cheese with ½ cup of fresh berries, like blueberries, raspberries, or strawberries.

Approximate nutrition facts:

  • 235 calories
  • 17g carbohydrate
  • 31g protein

Avocado toast

Toast 2 slices of whole-wheat bread. Using a fresh avocado, smash the avocado to spread on top of the toast, and top with a diced egg white.

Approximate nutrition facts:

  • 233 calories
  • 28g carbohydrate
  • 16g protein

English muffin

Toast a whole-wheat English muffin. Spread 2 tablespoons of natural peanut butter on the English muffin.

Approximate nutrition facts:

  • 310 calories
  • 30g carbohydrate
  • 13g protein

Although it can be challenging to fit breakfast into the morning and make sure it fits your type 2 diabetes management plan, enjoying breakfast is possible! You can become a regular breakfast eater with some planning.

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