Timing is everything
Is it better eat within 30 minutes of waking up, or waiting an hour or two before sitting down to eat breakfast? While some answers can be conflicting, in general, knowing the best time to eat breakfast can help you get the maximum amount of benefits to start your day off right. Deciding what to eat for breakfast plays an important role in your morning routine, too. Healthful foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins can enhance satiety, squash cravings, and boost energy levels to get you through the day (or at least until lunch). Once you've made up your mind on what you'd like to eat, it's time to consider how soon you should eat breakfast after waking up.
Most health experts believe in listening to the body to gage hunger levels, and to decide when to eat based on how you're feeling at the moment. "It's best to listen to your body. If you are hungry first thing, nourish your body. If you are more of a late riser, then eat when your body tells you it's ready for food," explains dietitian Elizabeth Ann Shaw. "Listening to your internal cues is the best way to maintain a healthy lifestyle."
Likewise, healthy lifestyle coach Liz Traines says it's never good to force consumption, if your body doesn't need food. She recommends eating within an hour or two of waking up—even if it's something small. "Eating something within a short time period can start the engines," Traines says. Her favorite quick breakfasts include a slice of toast topped with avocado and an egg, a smoothie, and a handful of nuts.
It's also important to keep the rest of the day's meals in mind, and by eating a breakfast within an hour or so of waking up, it'll be easier to plan accordingly, advises Ashlee Wright MDA, a dietitian at Orlando Health.
"Breakfast is the most commonly skipped meal among the patients that I see. Getting to the point where you are incorporating a healthy breakfast daily is important. Ideally, I recommend to have breakfast within an hour after waking up. This helps to get your metabolism started for the day," says Wright. "Also, you are more likely to choose better options if you have breakfast earlier and plan ahead. From that point on, try to plan lunch about four to five hours later and dinner four to five hours after lunch, with nutritious snacks in between."
For a productive, balanced day, grab something to eat within an hour of waking up. Your body will probably be more responsive to food by then, anyway!