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Breakfast: It really makes champions

Breakfast: It really makes champions by Allison Doriot

You’ve heard it before; breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Is it really? If so, what makes it so important? The 2010 Dietary Guidelines suggests eating a “nutrient-dense” breakfast, but what does this really mean? How do you know if you’re eating this so-called “nutrient-dense” breakfast? To do so, researchers suggest choosing foods that deliver a balance of nutrients needed for health, relative to calories provided. (1) Why? The importance of a nutrient-dense breakfast can impact your health more than you might think.

Studies show that eating breakfast shows immediate effects in cognitive performance (1). Not only is this important for kids before they get to their school desk in the morning but breakfast is just as important for adults. This boost in brain power results in better performance in the workplace as well. Consistently eating breakfast is also associated with weight management (1). Those who eat breakfast are less likely to over-eat later in the day. Breakfast-eaters also have that extra opportunity for good nourishment. If someone were to eat breakfast as opposed to skipping the meal, they would have more opportunity to get in the recommended amount of nutrients needed in a day for good health. On the other hand, those who regularly skip breakfast have been shown to have higher BMIs, larger waist circumferences, and an increased obesity risk (2). This is due to over-eating, or over-compensation, later in the day to make up for skipping that first meal.

The overall message here? Eat breakfast! However, be mindful of its composition as not all breakfasts are of good nutrient quality (3). Studies show that those who eat sugar and sweets with coffee and cream at breakfast-time have more daily intakes of saturated fats than those who consume different foods. The same is true for those who eat meats, typically bacon and sausage, eggs, and grains together at breakfast (3). Those breakfast meats are also major sources of sodium. According to a study done with NHANES data, those who included a whole grain source at breakfast-time had lower weights (3). So, we’re back to the “nutrient-dense” debate. The recommendation for a nutrient-dense breakfast for kids is to include a source of whole grain, fruit, and/or low-fat milk. A meal like this also provides adequate carbohydrates and protein to keep you fuller longer. Who’s to say that these recommendations can’t be aimed toward an adult as well?

You may already be aware of all of these healthful benefits that breakfast offers but aren’t sure how to implement a nutrient-dense breakfast into your lifestyle. Are you a fan of oatmeal? Add fresh or dried fruit, nuts and/or nut butters, and low-fat milk to your oats for a sweet and nutty breakfast that will satisfy you until lunch. Do you prefer eggs? Add chopped veggies like multi-colored peppers or tomatoes to your scrambled eggs or egg whites. Top with low-fat cheese and pair with whole-wheat toast and a piece of fruit for a well-balanced, healthful breakfast. In a hurry? Have a large batch of homemade trail mix prepared filled with whole-grain cereal, nuts, and dried fruit that’s ready-to-go. Scoop into snack-sized baggies for a balanced breakfast in a flash. Preparing a sit-down breakfast for the family? Try the recipe below from the USDA Mixing Bowl that’s healthful, tasty, and budget-friendly. You may even find yourself grabbing some leftovers from last night’s dinner to get a healthful breakfast in. Do what’s necessary to start your day out right with a nutritious breakfast. Eat better. Feel better. Do better.


Banana Oatmeal Pancakes

Makes: 10 Servings

Total Cost: $2.74

Serving Cost: $0.27



  • ¼ cup dried red lentils
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup plain yogurt, low-fat
  • ¾ cup, low-fat or skim
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 2 eggs, large
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 bananas, over-ripe mashed
  • maple syrup (to serve)


  1. In a small saucepan of boiling water, cook the lentils for 15-20 minutes, until soft. Drain well and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the yogurt, milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients along with the banana and lentils, and stir until just combined.
  3. Heat and grease skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Cook about 1/2 a cup of batter at a time, spreading it out with the back of a spoon if needed (it will be thick). Cook for a couple of minutes, until bubbles begin to break through the surface and the bottom is golden
  5. Flip with a spatula and cook until they are golden on the other side, and springy to the touch. Keep the pancakes warm on a rack set on a baking sheet in a 250°F oven while you finish cooking the rest.
  6. Serve drizzled with maple syrup (optional).


  1. O’Neil C, Byrd-Bredbenner C, Hayes D, Jana L, Klinger S, Stephenson-Martin S. The role of breakfast in health: definition and criteria for a quality breakfast. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2014: 114(12).
  2. N.D. evidence analysis library:
  3. O’Neil C, Nicklas T, Fulgoni III V. Nutrient intake, diet Quality, and weight/adiposity parameters in breakfast patterns compared with no breakfast in adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-2008. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2014: 114 (12).


About the Author:

Allie Doriot,  BGSU Dietetics Intern
Allison Doriot- BGSU Dietetics Intern

My name is Allison Doriot and I’m from Toledo, OH. I spent my high school days at E.L. Bowsher High School and continued my education at Bowling Green State University. Last May, I graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Dietetics degree and am currently a dietetic intern and graduate student at BGSU. In May of 2016, I hope to have completed my Master’s degree in Food and Nutrition. Columbus, Ohio is where I hope to start my post-college life to become a pediatric dietitian (or somewhere with kids), though there hasn’t been an aspect of dietetics I haven’t enjoyed yet. In my spare time, I love trying out new recipes so I can further my cooking skills and provide healthful and wholesome meals for myself and my future family.


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