Unless you are a sleep-eater, the gap between dinner and breakfast is typically the longest time your body goes without food. And if you are skipping breakfast to save calories, you might want to rethink that decision. Missing breakfast can lead to overeating at lunch or making poor food choices.

Research from the University of Bath in the United Kingdom shows eating a healthy breakfast may help regulate blood glucose levels and insulin production as well as boost metabolism throughout the day. Other research shows a healthy breakfast may help reduce the risk for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes as well as high blood pressure and cholesterol.

Basics of a healthy breakfast

Group together foods that provide complex carbohydrates, fiber, protein and a small amount of fat to help keep you full for hours. Three out of these four core groups make a great healthy breakfast option:

Whole grains: Rolls, bagels, hot or cold cereals, English muffins and waffles all come in whole-grain varieties.

Lean proteins: Eggs, turkey bacon, legumes and nuts.

Low-fat dairy: Skim or 1 percent milk, plain or low-sugar yogurt, cottage cheese.

Fruits and vegetables: Fresh or frozen, either on their own or added to a cereal or smoothie.

Quick and easy options

For many people, mornings are anything but convenient. By cooking ahead, staging your supplies or even packing a breakfast the night before, you can save valuable time and ensure you get a wholesome meal. Here are a few recipes for a healthy start:

Fresh fruit salad

Ingredients

1 red apple, cubed

1 Granny Smith apple, cubed

2 cups grapes, sliced

½ cup dried cranberries

½ cup chopped walnuts

8 ounces nonfat vanilla yogurt

Directions

1. In a large bowl, gently mix all ingredients with yogurt and chill until ready to serve.

Per serving: Calories 223, Fat 8.8g, Carbs 42.6g, Protein 8.2g, Sugar 18g

Multi-grain pancakes

Makes: 4 • Prep time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

¼ cup whole-wheat flour

¼ cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup rolled oats

¼ cup cornmeal

2 tsp. honey

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp cinnamon, ground

2 egg whites

2 Tbsp. plain, nonfat yogurt

2 Tbsp. skim milk

2 Tbsp. water

Directions

1. In medium bowl, mix whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, oats, cornmeal, honey, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.

2. In another bowl, whisk together eggs, yogurt, milk and water.

3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, mixing until moist.

4. Lightly coat a skillet with olive oil and set heat to medium.

5. Pour 1/3 cup batter onto skillet, turning when bubbles start to form in the center.

6. Cook for another 60 seconds after turning or until pancake is firm and golden brown.

7. Enjoy immediately, or refrigerate or freeze the pancakes and pop them in the toaster for a quick breakfast for later.

Per serving: Calories 148, Fat 0.9g, Carbs 30.3g, Protein 5.4g, Sugar 13g

Morning milkshake

Makes: 1 • Prep time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

1 cup skim milk

1 tsp. honey

1 Tbsp. almond butter

1 peeled banana, frozen (if using a fresh banana, add 5 ice cubes)

Directions

1. Blend all ingredients until smooth; serve immediately.

Per serving: Calories 268, Fat 14.1g, Carbs 42.4g, Protein 11.7g, Sugar 21g