Send Your Kids Back to School with a High Protein Breakfast
“Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.” As the saying goes, breakfast is the most important meal of the day and the key to a good start every morning—especially for kids! Breakfast serves as the nutritional boost growing children require every morning to get the learning process going.
Let’s think physiologically for a second: After a long night of sleeping, a resting body has gone without food for at least 7-10 hours. During this “survival mode” the body relies mostly on fat stores for energy, because these will last longer. This is entirely normal. But when the body wakes up, it craves its natural source of energy: glucose.
Now imagine a child in class on an empty stomach. It’s no wonder they are sluggish, inattentive, apathetic, disinterested and irritable when confronted with a difficult task. There is no readily accessible glucose for the brain to feed on! Unfortunately, these unfavorable behavior patterns can often lead to misdiagnosis as learning disabled or emotionally disabled, when in reality they are merely hungry.
Does your child skip breakfast? Lack energy in the morning? Research has indicated that breakfast skipping is a common practice in children and adolescents, increasing with age and seemingly associated with other lifestyle factors that may be detrimental to health1.
Since the 1970s, a myriad of studies have supported the benefits of breakfast, especially for kids.
Benefits of breakfast consumption
Higher consumption of required nutrients (e.g. Vit A, C, D, calcium, thiamin, iron)1
· Better food choices throughout the day compared to breakfast skippers2,3
· Improvements in academic and achievement test scores, grades, school attendance and tardiness rates4-8
· Fewer signs of depression, anxiety, hyperactivity9-11
· Associations with lower body weight or BMI in some studies11-14
What kids are eating11,16
- Low fiber, ready-to-eat-cereals
- Citrus fruit/juice
Away from home:
- Fried potatoes
- Breakfast sandwiches
- Bacon, sausage
What kids should be eating
Any breakfast rather than no breakfast1
A low glycemic load/index breakfast showed:
- Decreased hunger and greater satiety probably related to increased protein/fat/fiber content17
- Greater improvement in cognitive function (memory & attention)18
Translation: Fewer processed foods, whole grains (cereals or breads) instead of refined grains, and some lean protein instead of high-fat or no protein.
The fiber content and protein will increase satiety and help to offset a dramatic rise and subsequent drop in blood sugar.
Protein source: plant vs. animal
It’s no surprise low-fat dairy milk is a common breakfast item either on its own or combined with ready-to-eat cereal, being a lean protein source with a healthful balance of macronutrients: carbs, fat and protein alike. Unfortunately, for those children or adolescents with milk allergies or lactose intolerance, having even a small glass of milk may cause undesired effects like abdominal discomfort, hives, or lethargy—which would probably offset any attentiveness needed for class.
Eggs can be a good protein alternative for those with milk allergies/intolerance, but not for vegans or vegetarians. They might also take time to prepare or cook.
Plant proteins like Growing Naturals brown rice or pea protein powders are lean, hypoallergenic sources which can nutritionally boost your child’s breakfast and help them obtain the brain fuel they need to succeed in school.
Quick protein-boosted breakfast ideas
· Prepare cereals with rice milk alternative
· Add to your favorite fruit smoothie or veggie juice
· Sprinkle into hot cereal or porridge
· Add to low protein milk alternatives
· Add to yogurts
1. Rampersaud GC, Pereira MA, Girard BL, Adams J, Metzl JD. Breakfast habits, nutritional status, body weight and academic performance in children and adolescents. J Am Diet Assoc. 2005; 105: 743-760.
2. Skinner JD, Salvetti NN, Ezell JM, Penfield MP, Costello CA. Appalachian adolescents’ eating patterns and nutrient intakes. J Am Diet Assoc. 1985; 85:1093-1099.
3. Lattimore PJ, Halford JC. Adolescence and the dieting disparity: Healthy food choice or risky health behaviour? Br J Health Psychol. 2003;8:451-463.
4. Meyers AF, Sampson AE, Weitzman M, Rogers BL, Kayne H. School Breakfast Program and school performance. Am J Dis Child. 1989;143:1234-1239.
5. Boey C, Omar A, Phillips J. Correlation among academic performance, recurrent abdominal pain and other factors in year-6 urban primary-school children in Malaysia. J Paediatr Child Health. 2003;39:352-357.
6. Murphy JM, Pagano ME, Nachmani J, Sperling P, Kane S, Kleinman RE. The relationship of school breakfast to psychosocial and academic functioning: Cross-sectional and longitudinal observations in an inner-city school sample. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1998;152:899-907.
7. Kleinman RE, Hall S, Green H, Korzec-Ramirez D, Patton K, Pagano ME, Murphy JM. Diet, breakfast, and academic performance in children. Ann Nutr Metab. 2002;46(suppl 1):24-30.
8. Kim H-Y, Frongillo E, Han S-S, Oh S-Y, Kim W-K, Jang Y-A, Won H-S, Lee H-S, Kim S-H. Academic performance of Korean children is associated with dietary behaviours and physical status. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2003;12:186-192.
9. Wesnes KA, Pincock C, Richardson D, Helm G, Hails S. Breakfast reduces declines in attention and memory over the morning in schoolchildren. Appetite. 2003;41:329-331.
10. Wyon DP, Abrahamsson L, Jartelius M, Fletcher RJ. An experimental study of the effects of energy intake at breakfast on the test performance of 10-year-old children in school. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 1997;48:5-12.
11. Siega-Riz AM, Popkin BM, Carson T. Trends in breakfast consumption for children in the United States from 1965-1991. Am J Clin Nutr. 1998; 67(suppl):748S-756S.
12. Keski-Rahkonen A, Kaprio J, Rissanen A, Virkkunen M, Rose RJ. Breakfast skipping and health-compromising behaviors in adolescents and adults. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2003;57:842-853.
13. Sjoberg A, Hallberg L, Hoglund D, Hulthen L. Meal pattern, food choice, nutrient intake and lifestyle factors in The Goteborg Adolescence Study. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2003;57:1569-1578.
14. Wolfe WS, Campbell CC, Frongillo EA Jr, Haas JD, Melnik TA. Overweight schoolchildren in New York State: Prevalence and characteristics. Am J Public Health. 1994;84:807-813.
15. (same as #7-Siega-Riz, trends)
16. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2007. Breakfast in America, 2001-2002. Available:http://www.ars.usda.gov/SP2UserFiles/Place/12355000/pdf/Breakfast_2001_2002.pdf
17. LaCombe A, Ganji V. Influence of two breakfast meals differing in glycemic load on satiety, hunger and energy intake in preschool children. Nutr J. 2010; 9:53
18. Cooper SB, Bandelow S, Nute ML, Morris JG, Nevill ME. Breakfast glycaemic index and cognitive function in adolescent children. Brit J Nutr. 2012; 107: 1823-1832