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Breakfast provides brain power for all ages

March 17, 2004|by LYNN F. LITTLE

Breakfast is the jump-start to the day. Without breakfast, people are like cars running with a low tank of gas.

Eating breakfast is just as important for adults and college students as it is for young children. Breakfast is for everybody. It has nothing to do with age.

Breakfast provides glucose needed to get the body ready to concentrate and perform at an optimum level.

Usually at breakfast we eat something with carbohydrates that gives us immediate refueling for our brain. Even if we are just going to work in an office, we need to refuel and get as sharp as we can to be as effective as possible. Small children who don't eat breakfast have been shown to be more likely to have attention and behavior problems. Eating breakfast does make a big difference in how we respond to the world around us.

Many of us may not be at our optimum in the morning, but to go to work or school we need fuel to start the day.

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Some people may be wary of a big breakfast for fear of putting on extra pounds, but eating breakfast has been proven to be more effective in maintaining or losing weight.

There's strong proof that we have a tendency, if we skip breakfast, to eat more throughout the day. Breakfast eaters are better able to control their weight. If you skip breakfast and finally eat lunch, you are more likely to eat more calories, which can lead to a weight increase. It works the opposite of what some dieters believe.

If you suddenly decide to become a breakfast-eater, you might have a tough time getting used to the routine, but eventually your body will thank you.

The best breakfast consists of two or three different food groups, including protein and carbohydrates. Carbohydrates give you immediate fuel, helping you become as alert as you can be. Protein is slow to digest and, along with dietary fat, will get you through that mid-morning slump and hopefully carry you to lunch.

Breakfast can be an endless variety of things. Last night's leftover corn muffin, a piece of cheese and a glass of juice would work - whatever is available that works for you. There really aren't any rules. The important thing is to eat something, "break the fast" and give your body a jump-start for the day.




Lynn F. Little is a family and consumer sciences educator with Maryland Cooperative Extension in Washington County.

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