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Reputable research asserts a staggering 31 million Americans skip breakfast each day. Wow. We’ve all heard how a morning meal is the most important one of the day, so why the breakfast boycott? Knowing the benefits will give you solid reasons to stock the fridge, fruit bowl, and pantry with fiber- and protein-rich yet easy choices to optimize your health, energy, and waistline:

Control weight

Studies reveal that people who regularly eat breakfast fare best at losing and keeping off weight than people who skip breakfast. When you eat in the morning, it helps jumpstart your metabolism (calorie burn) and wards off pre-lunchtime cravings. It can be easier to reach for a pastry or something sugary to fill a craving. If you consume something high in fiber and/or protein, you aren’t as likely to be tempted to grab whatever’s in the breakroom to stave off the churning in your stomach. Even if you make it to lunch, you might be so hungry that you’ll take in more calories than your breakfast and lunch combined. The key is to stick to a high-protein breakfast in order to feel more full throughout the day.

Reduce diabetes risk

Reducing the risk of diabetes by making breakfast a daily habit is especially true for women. According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women who skip breakfast are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes over the cohort of women who eat breakfast every day.

Improve memory

What you eat is as important as when you eat relative to improving one’s memory. Doughnuts aren’t going to do much for your health. A nutritious and properly balanced breakfast, however, can get those brain juices going. Studies have shown that people who eat breakfast fulfill their daily nutrient needs, compared to those who do not get morning nourishment. It’s not just good for the body; it’s good for the brain, too, as it has everything it needs in order to properly function throughout the day.

Increase energy

If you get a recommended eight hours of sleep a night, that’s more than eight hours without food in your body. When you think about it, that’s a long time to go without eating, which is why your body needs some sort of nourishment first thing in the morning. Think of it as putting gas in the tank. Your body’s tank is empty and needs something to get it going, or else it’s going to stall.

Strengthen immune system

Keep away the cold and flu by nourishing your body first thing in the morning. Researchers from the Netherlands found that large meals in the morning help boost blood levels of gamma interferon – a natural antiviral agent – by 450 percent.

Listen, nobody is too harried for breakfast. It doesn’t matter if you want to sleep more or are running late, there is no excuse worth skipping this super-critical meal. You don’t even have to get all fancy with French toast or eggs benedict. It doesn’t need to be complicated to be a good. In fact, many breakfast foods have been modified to fit into on-the-go lifestyles. A banana is a naturally portable food. It even has its own wrapper! Another healthy and filling option is Greek yogurt which is offered in varieties low in sugar (20g or less per serving) and come in individual servings, so peel back the foil and grab a spoon. You DO have time for breakfast; just be smart about what, when and how you’re eating it.