You’ve definitely heard people say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. In recent times, however, some health and nutrition experts have challenged the belief, terming it a nutrition myth.
So what is it? Is breakfast really your most important meal of the day or is that simply an old wives’ tale? Somebody tell me what’s going on!
How Do You Define Breakfast?
Some skeptics have gone a step further and challenged the whole idea of breakfast. How do you define it? Is it your first meal of the day or any meal you eat in the morning hours? If it’s the former, would you consider a 1 PM meal to be breakfast if it’s your first meal? What about those people who “snack” in the morning and then claim to have skipped breakfast, have they really skipped it? Does the nature of the meal count? For example, if you wake up and eat stake rather than drink a cup of coffee, will you still call that breakfast?
As you can see, there’s really no standard definition of breakfast. But for the sake of creating a common ground, we are going to refer to breakfast using its most common definition – the morning meal that you usually have immediately after waking up. For most people, it usually consists of at least one beverage, like coffee, tea, milk or juice.
Now that we’ve gotten that cleared up, we can get back to the question at hand, is breakfast your most important meal of the day?
The simple answer is yes, and here’s why:
For weight loss
Some theories suggest that if you keep skipping breakfast you will gain weight. The common argument here is that you will end up overeating at lunch (or any other meal) as you seek to make up for what you missed. That kind of makes sense, except that a study was conducted and it proved otherwise.
It showed that if you skip breakfast, you will consume either a similar amount or lesser calories than if you hadn’t skipped it. A 2013 study of people who were used to consuming an average of 625 calories for breakfast showed that those who skipped the meal ate about 770 calories at lunch and those who had both breakfast and lunch packed a whopping 1075 calories by day’s end. Meaning if you skip breakfast you are bound to overeat at lunch, but the excess calories are nowhere close to what you will pack if you eat both meals.
WHOA!? What? All this time I thought I was beating myself up over not being a breakfast person when I was actually doing myself a favor? Oh yes. I can’t wait to use this info the next time someone tells me I should wake up early to get a meal in.
For appetite control
Depending on what your breakfast menu looks like, you can use the meal to curb your appetite for the rest of the day. Foods rich in sugar and carbs are obviously bad as they will make you yearn for more food, while proteins, certain fruits, and vegetables will control your appetite. Breakfast doesn’t have to be boring, some of the best foods you can eat in the morning to keep you full and energized are delicious.
Controlling your appetite is the first step towards proper weight management. So rather than filling up on sugar and carbs you might want to consider nuts, lean meat, soy, vegetables, blueberries, granola, and yogurt among other appropriate foods.
For day long energy
For most of us, breakfast comes after the night – a period where there is less eating and more sleeping. It is normal for your blood glucose to take a dive after the overnight fast, and if you start your day without replenishing it, you will hardly have the energy required to get through the 2 o’clock slump.
What breakfast does is that it raises the body’s energy level by restoring blood glucose to the required level. For better results, stay away from foods that are rich in sugar and carbs as those will bring fatigue rapidly.
If you just can't live without carbs, you can find the best carb blockers, to help out.
For kids, breakfast could be undoubtedly the most important meal of the day. A 2013 study found that kindergarten children who ate breakfast regularly had higher IQ scores than their counterparts who skipped the meal. The same might not be true for older kids and adults, but breakfast will certainly help you gain and maintain mental focus, attention, and concentration. It will also improve your physical performance, thanks to restored blood glucose level.
Have you ever tried to study or work on an empty stomach? I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve tried, but I know exactly the number of times I’ve been successful concentrating on an empty stomach. You guess it- zero.
Apart from restoring blood glucose level, breakfast also lowers the level of cortisol – a stress hormone that peaks during the morning (around 7 or 8 AM). When the level of the hormone decreases so does your level of stress. Well who would have thought, there really is such a thing as comfort food.
So far it is evident that breakfast is, in fact, a very important meal. But not everything that is said about its importance is true. For instance, chances are you’ve heard people say that eating breakfast boosts your metabolism and thus contributes to weight loss. Sorry to disappoint, but it doesn’t. Make your own decision if the benefits of breakfast outweigh the extra snoozing time.