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You know your mom was right. She always said breakfast was the most important meal of the day. Yet, you were probably running out the door this a.m., just like you do most days, with a cup of coffee and a quick toasted hunk of processed food for breakfast, if you ate anything at all.

You’re not alone. But you are certainly missing out.

"It’s the key to jump-starting the day," says Emory University dietician Julie Schwartz, MS, RD. "Breakfast provides your body with the fuel to stoke metabolism and fuel for your brain for optimal learning, day-to-day functioning, and the ability to work more efficiently. Most parents will agree that breakfast is important for our kids to perform well at school, so doesn’t it seem logical that breakfast would help an adult to perform better at work, too?"

Of course, most of us who skip breakfast or grab a fast food cheese-laden muffin concoction or wolf down a pastry when hunger strikes in the morning know we should be eating better. But who has time to prepare and eat a nutritious breakfast when you’re rushing off to work? It turns out, Schwartz insists, we all do.

It just takes a minimum of planning and no more than 5 minutes of effort to put together each of the five breakfasts below, according to Schwartz, the coordinator for Nutrition Services at the Emory Bariatric Center in Atlanta. And they all work as on-the-go meals you can enjoy during your commute or eat easily at your desk when you get to work.

Breakfast sandwich

Preparation time: 5 minutes.

2 pcs whole-grain bread or 6-inch tortilla or flat bread

1 egg, 1 c. low-fat cheese or humus, 1c. nut butter, or 1 slice low-fat lunch meat

1 pc fruit

1 pint juice or fat-free milk

Use whole-grain bread, toasted or not, or make your sandwich by wrapping a filling of your choice in a tortilla or piece of flat bread. Use whatever healthy filling appeals to you. For example, scramble an egg (just stir it up in a bowl and microwave for 3 minutes), or fill your sandwich with low-fat cheese, low-fat hummus, peanut or other nut butter, turkey, or other low-fat lunch meat. Grab an apple or banana and a small carton of juice or fat-free milk, and you have a balanced meal to eat on the go. Calorie count: 350 - 450.

FS Breakfast crunchy cereal

Low-fat yogurt parfait

Preparation time: 4 minutes.

6 oz. low-fat plain or Greek yogurt

1 c. fruit or berries

1 c. high-fiber cereal or 1/4 c. chopped nuts

Put the low-fat plain or Greek yogurt in a medium-sized plastic container. Add some cut up fruit or sprinkle some berries on top, then high-fiber cereal or chopped nuts. Put the top on the container, grab a spoon, and you’re out the door. Tip: If you like the cereal to stay crunchy, take it with you in a separate small container and add it just before you eat the yogurt.

Calorie count (varies based on amount of fruit and cereal): around 300.

Homemade smoothie

Preparation time: 4 minutes.

6 oz. low-fat or fat-free yogurt, plain or vanilla

½ cup fruit juice

½ cup frozen berries

½ cup frozen banana

¼ tsp vanilla or other extract

½ cup ice

Put the low-fat or fat-free plain or vanilla yogurt in a blender. Add the fruit juice, frozen berries, frozen banana, vanilla or other extract, and ice and blend. You can also add a tablespoon or two of wheat germ, flax seed, or flax oil to increase the nutritional value. Calories: 250 - 350.

High-fiber cereal bar plus fruit

Preparation time: 2 minutes

1 pc fruit (apple or banana)

½ c. dried fruit or 1 - 2 pcs string cheese

1 - 1 ½ c. high-fiber cereal or 1 breakfast bar

Grab a piece of fruit (apples and bananas are especially portable) or a serving of dried fruit and one or two pieces of string cheese and add that to your high-fiber cereal bar to make a balanced breakfast. To save time, have everything ready in a bag the night before, except the cheese. Pop that in before leaving. Calories: 370.

Whole-grain cereal

Preparation time: 3 minutes.

1 – 1 ½ c. cereal

½ c. berries or banana

6 oz. low-fat or fat-free milk

Have the cereal in a covered container you can grab in the morning and take it to work. Add the berries or banana and the low-fat or fat-free milk, and eat at your desk. Tip: You can keep the cereal in a desk drawer and, if your office has a refrigerator, just bring in fruit and milk on Mondays to use during the week. You can also use packages of fat-free dry milk that you can keep handy in your desk. Just mix the dry milk with water and add to your cereal. Calories: 350.

FS Breakfast fruits

As an aside, if you’re interested, here’s a little interesting science on breakfast:

Schwartz points out that the National Weight Control Registry study on weight management found that 78% of people who lost significant weight and kept it off had something in common -- they ate breakfast every day. In fact, starting the day with a healthy meal could predict how healthy you’ll eat the rest of the day, including whether you’ll avoid eating excess calories.

That’s the conclusion of a study by Rippe Lifestyle Institute scientists, published in the November 2008, issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Researchers followed the eating habits of 12,000 U.S. women and men. The trick to an optimum breakfast, the researchers found, is to choose morning meals that have fewer calories per gram weight. Called "less energy dense foods" by nutritionists, typically these food choices have fewer calories but are loaded with nutrients and fiber. They include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that soak up water, such as oatmeal or rice. The result of eating this kind of breakfast? You’ll feel full longer and tend to eat fewer high-calorie foods the rest of the day.

FS Author Sherry Baker

Sherry Baker is a freelance writer based in Atlanta, Georgia. She last wrote "Holiday Office Party Dos and Don'ts" for Synergy. Reach Sherry at featuredstories@adamcorp.com.