You know the old saying: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But is it really true? According to a new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN) the answer is yes. Researchers discovered that women who skipped breakfast regularly were at least 20 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. A separate study in AJCN revealed similar findings in male breakfast skippers, who were shown to have a 21 percent greater chance of developing diabetes.

There are other problems with skipping breakfast as well. Leah E. Cahill, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health recently warned, “Skipping breakfast may lead to one or more risk factors, including obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, which may in turn lead to a heart attack over time.”

If that’s not enough reason to start your day with a full stomach, the American Diabetes Association notes that missing your morning meal is also connected with unhealthy weight gain and metabolic conditions.

Fortunately, with a little planning and effort, it’s easy to enjoy a nutritious breakfast every morning. Don’t take risks with your health—use our simple tips to learn how you can make breakfast a regular part of your day.

Exercise First

Not hungry when you rise? Then kickstart your metabolism with a morning workout first. Not only might this help rev your appetite, but according to a study in the Journal of Physiology, exercising before breakfast may help prevent weight gain and insulin resistance.

Eat for Activity

It can be easier to stomach eating breakfast if you eat a smaller amount. While popular wisdom often dictates making breakfast the largest meal of the day, that may not make sense if your job is sedentary. Be sure to get a nutritious balance of whole grains, protein, and fresh fruit, but don’t go overboard on portion sizes.

Keep It Interesting

Tired of the same old, same old for breakfast? Mix things up with some new choices to start your day. There’s more to breakfast than cereal and toast. Try these ideas to add some pizzazz and get you jazzed about eating in the morning again:

  • Exciting egg dishes: whether in an omelet with veggies, poached on a whole grain bagel, or a part of huevos rancheros, eggs are an excellent source of protein.
  • Fabulous fruit options: make a tropical platter, blend fruit into smoothies, or add berries to pancake mix.
  • Beans and breads: you might not think of beans for breakfast, but a breakfast burrito is a perfect blend of protein and carbohydrates. Beans can top toast and other breads as well for a healthier alternative to butter.

Start Your Day Off Right

With so much to risk by skipping breakfast and so much to gain by eating it, make sure you start your day off right with a healthy meal. To help improve your morning appetite, you might want to go easy on dinner and midnight snacking. Also remember to leave enough time to eat in the morning—a stressful start can make sitting down to eat more challenging.