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Power up your day with breakfast

17It isn’t called ‘the most important meal of the day’ for no reason. Beginning your day with a hearty breakfast plays a crucial role in keeping you fit and healthy. The right breakfast fuels your body, provides long-lasting energy and satiety, aides in weight control, and improves performance at work.In fact, ‘breaking the fast’ can be a ‘great nutrition strategy’ as it gives an excellent opportunity to fit in a great mix of carbohydrate, lean protein, fiber and some healthy fat, giving a perfect start to your day. An essential part of healthy lifestyle, eating the morning meal prevents you from doing a lot of other unhealthy things such as overeating and overindulging in calorie and sugar-rich food during the day. “I am totally a breakfast person. I do much better in the day when I eat my breakfast. Also, it’s one meal that allows me to catch up with the family, talking about my day,” shares celebrity chef Aditya Bal.A nutritious breakfast boosts metabolism, curbs mid-day hunger pangs and helps maintain a healthy weight. “Your stomach has been lying empty for 8-10 hours. It’s the fuel of the body which gives you energy and better drive. As a result you stay more active and happier at work,” says Dr Sandeep Bhargava, gastroenterologist, Saket City Hospital, Delhi.Beware skippersIt’s the most important meal of the day, yet most of us give it a miss. Why? ‘No time’ is the most common excuse. It is skipped in favour of some extra sleep or plain laziness. Breakfast skippers, however, stand at a higher risk of developing a heart disease or suffering a heart attack than those who start the day with something in their stomach. Skipping the morning grub means ‘feasting’ on calorie-rich food during the day and putting extra strain on the body, which can result in high cholesterol and elevated blood pressure.For diabetics it’s extremely important not to miss the first meal of the day as it helps in keeping the blood sugar levels under control. Skipping breakfast also wreaks havoc on the metabolism. “It has been linked to elevated risk factors for metabolic disorders like obesity, diabetes, hypertension and heart diseases,” informs Dr Bhargava. Breakfast plays a very important role in the growth years. “Often called as the brain food, it helps improve the reflexes in kids. As they are into their learning years, the morning meal helps improve their concentration and learning abilities. Kids going to school with an empty stomach are more likely to find it difficult to stay alert and active,” says Dr Vandana Kent, senior consultant, pediatrics, Rockland Hospital.Look slimmerTried every diet and exercise out there and still can’t lose weight? Here’s the easiest way – make sure you are having breakfast everyday. Rushing out the door in the morning without filling your stomach can push you towards picking unhealthy food during the day. “After skipping breakfast you feel so hungry by the noon that you tend to overeat, and anything that is eaten extra than your daily calorie requirements is stored as fat in the body, and this is why most people fail to reach their weight-loss goal,” informs Leena Mongre, director, LM Fitness, Mumbai.When you prolong the nightlong fast, the body starts breaking the lean muscle tissue to produce energy – and don’t be mistaken – this isn’t fat. The goal should be to lose the weight without losing the lean muscle mass. “When you have breakfast, it kickstarts your BMR (body metabolic rate) right in the morning. You don’t get acidity or feel bloated as your stomach isn’t empty till noon,” explains Mongre. It keeps your hunger down and you snack less throughout the day, and start shedding extra pounds. “It is important to have every meal in adequate quantity. I personally lost a lot of weight after I disciplined my schedule of eating each meal of the day especially breakfast,” says popular television chef Kunal Kapur.Simple and sumptuousIt takes just seven minutes to eat your breakfast,” says Mongre. So where is the challenge? Whipping up a breakfast that is fast as well as healthy is what comes across as a daunting task for many. However, the truth is – one doesn’t need to cook up a ‘feast’ for breakfast.Unlike dinner, it can be anything simple, sumptuous and nutritious. The idea is to kickstart your metabolism for the day and cover larger share of your daily calorie requirement with the breakfast. “Breakfast salads are something that take no time. You can use leftover food like chicken, fish or rice, add your favourite veggies to it, olive oil, little vinegar and throw in big chunks of bread and you are good to go,” suggests Bal. It can be something as simple and healthy as a glass of milk or fresh juice, eggs, multigrain bread, fruit or yogurt. “In fact, three-fourth of your nutrition should come from you breakfast.It should be a balanced combination of complex carbohydrates, protein and a little bit of fat. Try to cook fresh and not use packaged food,” suggests Mongre. A breakfast that is high in protein -think eggs and yogurt – can easily ward off your hunger pangs, helping you eat less and ultimately lose weight. “Avoid heavy and greasy food in the mornings as it will make you feel sluggish during the day,” advises Dr Kent. And be sure to eat within 30-60 minutes of waking to take advantage of your body’s full fatburning potential.-India Today