Making a healthy breakfast part of your morning routine can help you make better choices throughout the day.

For many people, breakfast is a low priority. If you think you are saving time or cutting calories by skipping breakfast, think again. Making a healthy breakfast part of your morning routine can help you make better choices throughout the day. 

Here are three compelling reasons to make breakfast a priority:

1. Weight control. Breakfast-eaters tend to weigh less than breakfast-skippers. The National Weight Control Registry has tracked more than 10,000 people who have lost significant amounts of weight and kept the weight off. In that group, 80 percent eat breakfast every day. Eating breakfast reduces hunger and decreases the likelihood that you will overeat later. Eating in the morning also boosts your metabolism for the whole day and helps stabilize blood sugars. 

2. Health benefits. Breakfast-eaters tend to have overall healthier diets. Eating breakfast makes it easier to get the recommended amounts of calcium, iron, riboflavin, folic acid, iron, and vitamins A and D. Eating breakfast provides strength and endurance for the day. According to the American Heart Association, breakfast-eaters have lower cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and a decreased rate of heart disease. Eating breakfast also helps combat insulin resistance and the risk of diabetes. 

3. Academic or work performance. Breakfast-eaters have better concentration and are more alert and creative at school or work. Carbohydrates are essential for a healthy brain and contribute to an improved memory, better mood and decreased stress. Eating breakfast restores the body’s supply of glucose after a long night of sleep. Glucose is the brain’s main fuel. Starting the day with a good breakfast is important for everyone and especially for children and adolescents. 

But what is the best breakfast? It should be something that you enjoy eating and will eat on a consistent basis. Aim for variety in each breakfast, including three to four food groups — grain, meat, fruit and dairy. Get in some protein. People who eat protein at breakfast perform better on tests involving thinking and concentration. Peanut butter, eggs and yogurt are some easy proteins to add. Cereal is the go-to breakfast for many people, and there is nothing wrong with that — if you choose a cereal made with whole grains and zero or little added sugar.

Breakfast doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are some ways to make it easy:

Set the table the night before with cereal boxes, bowls, spoons and glasses.

Make extra food to freeze for a quick breakfast later. Muffins, pancakes, waffles, egg burritos or fruit smoothies are all great options.

Think nontraditional. Reheat some dinner leftovers or munch on a cold slice of pizza. Melt some cheese in a tortilla, or spread some graham crackers with peanut butter.

Cook some hard-boiled eggs to keep in the refrigerator. Or make yogurt parfaits or overnight oatmeal to grab in the mornings.

Anita Marlay, R.D., L.D., is a dietitian in the Cardiopulmonary Rehab department at Lake Regional Health System in Osage Beach.