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How many calories should be in a good breakfast?
How many calories should I be eating for breakfast? Most days I just run out of the house with a piece of fruit in my hand eating on the way to work. I only live about a mile from work so I walk every day.

What is a good breakfast for those dieting and exercising?
What would you say would be the best possible breakfast (without breaking the bank) for me to eat, keeping in mind I work out for at least an hour pretty much every day?

How to choose the right portion size
In the last few decades portion size has become a major issue, with portions in restaurants increasing dramatically. Forty years ago a 32 ounce milk shake with 1,160 calories would have been unusual. There was no such thing as a Quarter Pounder (let alone a Double Quarter Pounder) and getting a mountain of nachos would be rare. These huge plates have spilled over into how people choose their food.


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Start Your Kids Out Right

CerealI've said over and over that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It keeps your metabolism up, helps you avoid injudicious snacking, and keeps you satisfied until lunch so that you don't overeat. People who skip breakfast tend to eat more calories throughout the day and tend to have higher Waist to Hip ratios and higher Body Mass Indices than those who eat breakfast.

But it's important for kids, too, and not just for the same reasons that it's important for adults.

Researchers in Australia (Am J Clin Nutr 2010;92(6):1316-25) made use of information collected through the Childhood Determinants of Adult Health study (CDAH), which was a follow-up of a 1985 study that surveyed a nationally representative sample of children between the ages of 7 and 15. The CDAH contacted over 5,000 of these children - now adults - in 2001 and 2002 and asked them to respond to questionnaires regarding their diet, health and other demographic information. Both as children and as adults, the participants' height and weight were measured. As adults the subjects' waist and hip measurements were taken along with cholesterol, fasting glucose and blood pressure scores.

Both as children and then again as adults, the participants were asked if they usually ate breakfast.

The scientists grouped the participants into four groups:

  • Those who ate breakfast as children, but not as adults
  • Those who ate breakfast as children and as adults
  • Those who did not eat breakfast as children and did not eat breakfast as adults
  • Those who did not eat breakfast as children but did eat breakfast as adults

They then compared the four groups in terms of the healthfulness of their overall diet, then looked at cholesterol scores, blood glucose scores and blood pressures. They found that those who skipped breakfast both as children and as adults tended to have the least healthy overall diet, a larger waist circumference (1.85 inches, on average) and a higher Body Mass Index (an average of 1.8 points higher). They also had higher total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) and lower HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol).

What this means for you

Obviously skipping breakfast does not, by itself, cause a higher BMI, waist circumference, or poor cholesterol scores. What it does do is help you follow a healthier diet. Start yourself and your kids out right by making breakfast a daily habit. It's a habit that's worth keeping.

First posted: November 24, 2010