Breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day. After a night of sleep, our bodies go into a fasting mode and breakfast is the meal meant to “break the fast.”

Registered Dietitian Jane Dummer likes to use an automotive analogy to emphasize why breakfast is so important for our bodies.

“Our bodies are like cars running empty on fuel and we’re just hoping to make that last mile,” she explained. “It’s important to fuel your body when you wake up to keep your metabolism in check, send glucose to your brain and protein to your muscles.”

Some people skip breakfast in attempt to lose weight. Dummer said these attempts may result in a disadvantage to your body. “Studies have shown people who eat breakfast lose weight faster and maintain it, as compared to those who don’t eat breakfast,” she said.

Dummer also stresses the importance of portion sizes. A healthy breakfast should include carbohydrates, protein and fats, “but be sure to monitor portion sizes,” she said. “Commercial cereals and breads can be very calorie-dense.”

Give your toast, cereal and oatmeal a day off and try barley as your grain of choice for breakfast. Barley beta-glucan has been shown to lower cholesterol, which is a risk in heart disease.

Barley for breakfast can also help you save time. Linda Whitworth, Alberta Barley’s market development manager, said you can leave a batch of barley in a slow cooker on low overnight. In the morning, you can eat it as you normally would hot cereal. Add apple slices, blueberries, strawberries, or other fruits and flavour it with cinnamon, maple syrup or honey. If you have any leftover, save it to make a salad for lunch or dinner.