Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day because it provides your body and brain with the fuel it needs to function all morning and into the afternoon. Many studies have shown how eating breakfast can improve memory, mood, concentration, and lower stress levels.
Eating breakfast is good habit to start as a child and continue through adulthood, but many teenagers in high school do not eat breakfast. Why? Most students say that they don’t wake up early enough to have time to eat a decent breakfast. “I usually don’t eat breakfast in the morning because I’m either not very hungry or I don’t have enough time,” said Darcy Popmarkoff, GCHS freshman.
It is recommended that everyone eat breakfast, but it’s particularly important for athletes and their performance. National statistics show that one in four high school aged athletes skip breakfast. Skipping breakfast can cause your metabolism to slow down and limit your ability to burn calories. The goal of breakfast is to rehydrate the body, energize the brain, and feed the muscles their first of three meals. This will also help the athlete stay fueled throughout the day and make it through an after school practice. A good pre-game breakfast would be fruit, eggs, whole grain toast and yogurt.
“Most of the time I eat oatmeal on game days because it is a good source of nutrition,” said Freddy Edwards, injured Warrior quarterback and GCHS sophomore. Most dieticians suggest that athletes of any kind follow these 5 rules when it comes to fueling properly for a big game: load up on carbs beginning 3 days prior to the game, make sure to eat enough protein throughout the day, limit the fat intake, drink fluids early and often, and replace lost electrolytes.
Starting off the day with a healthy breakfast is critical for an athlete. Most high school athletes pay close attention to what they are eating, especially on game day. Research shows that most injuries occur in the last 20 minutes of practice or a game, which is typically when fatigue increases. A decreased level of carbohydrate intake is one of the main factors responsible for the onset of fatigue. What this means is that without the proper nutrition for athletes prior to and during competition, the body will run out of fuel and shut down, regardless of how well the athlete is trained from a physical standpoint.
Stand outside QuikTrip or McDonalds any given morning and you’ll see many kids walking out with sugary drinks, donuts, chips, or other fattening snacks. Do they consider that a healthy breakfast? Is eating a donut and a large soda better than not eating anything at all? Most dietitians would say no. When you eat foods and drink soda with so much sugar, your body will initially respond to the high sugar level and feel satisfied. Then your body increases your insulin production to keep up with the high sugar level. Within a couple of hours you will likely feel hungry again and fatigued because the sugar level has been reduced. Typically by 3rd hour of a normal school day, you will have felt the “sugar crash”. This is not good for your body and should not be part of your normal diet.
Eating breakfast in the morning will help you maintain your energy level throughout the day, enhance cognitive function, maintain a healthy weight, and avoid spikes and decreases in your insulin levels. Taking time to eat breakfast will improve the overall quality of your diet, particularly that of a student athlete. I challenge you to walk past the QT donut case and soda station and eat a healthy breakfast.