Despite hearing that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, most of us rush to get out of the door, forgetting to have it. Later on, we end up beating ourselves up for skipping this meal. However, others choose to willingly ignore the meal in the belief that it may promote weight loss. But if this is the case, is breakfast essential? Doesn’t it mean that your lunch meal can always substitute it? Let us find out!
There are good reasons why breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day. However, there are also myths surrounding this A.M. meal, which might explain the ongoing debate on its importance.
In this read, we will unveil the facts and myths surrounding the breakfast meal. We will discuss its benefits, its impact if skipped, and if it is the most important meal of the day. Read on for this and more insight.
Is Breakfast The Most Important Meal Of The Day?
For years, you might have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. As such, you might have tried your best always to have this meal, no matter how rough your mornings are. But did you ever stop to consider why this meal is essential?
According to WebMD, breakfast is substantial because of its benefits and because it is the first meal of your day. As the first meal, it helps you “break the fast” (4). The fast refers to the duration you were asleep and went without food.
When you have breakfast, you break this cycle and provide your body and brain energy to perform your day’s activities. Here are some other solid reasons why breakfast is often called the most important meal of the day (4):
It Gives You Fuel
By the time you wake up in the morning, all your energy tends to be used up. There is no way you can go about your day’s activities without enough energy. If you can, you will tend to be sluggish, lazy, and with a low energy drive.
It is primarily why you need to take breakfast. This early morning meal provides you with the energy or fuel you need to go about your daily activities (4). However, the foods you eat are also as important as having this meal.
Although you can have donuts and pastries, they do not rank among healthy breakfast options. It would help if you consumed healthy and nutritious meals to leave you energetic and full throughout the day. The best healthy breakfast foods include whole grain cereals, eggs, flaxseeds, coffee, Greek yogurt, nuts and nut butter, tea, berries, and other fruits (5).
It Leads To Higher Cognitive Performance
Cognitive performance is crucial as it affects our thinking and capacity to perform daily activities. When you go for hours without eating through the night and then skip breakfast, you tend to affect cognitive performance. Experts acknowledge that eating breakfast can boost cognitive functioning, including better thinking, problem-solving, decision making, reasoning, and learning (12).
It Reduces Risks Of Various Health Conditions
Breakfast intake has also been linked to the reduction of various illnesses. A study conducted in Japan revealed that individuals who did not frequently eat breakfast had an increased risk of stroke, cardiovascular diseases, and cerebral hemorrhage (2). These findings concur with those of a US prospective cohort study that associated increased CVD incidence (cardiovascular diseases) with infrequent breakfast intake (10).
It Revs Up Your Metabolism
If you go for more than 10 or 12 hours without eating, your metabolism tends to slow down and go into an energy-mobilizing mode (3). This might explain why you tend to have low energy early in the morning. The only way you will boost your metabolism and get enough energy for your day’s activities is by eating breakfast.
Remember that you still need to pay attention to your daily caloric intake. So, also count your breakfast calories to make sure that they align with your daily calorie requirements. Choose healthy things to eat for breakfast that restrict you within your calorie range. Opt for foods that allow you to maintain the consumption of the following foods in the shown ranges (3):
- Fat consumption- between 20 and 35% of your daily calories
- Fiber- 25 g
- Carbohydrates- 45 to 65 % of your daily calories
- Protein- 10-35% of your daily calories
Morning breakfast cereal can help you achieve these goals. Opt for unrefined cereal that boasts of whole grains, nutrients, and minerals (3). Read your labels before quickly adding cereals to your trolley to validate that they are unrefined.
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It Promotes Good Heart Health
WebMD acknowledges various studies that denote a link between breakfast consumption and improved heart health (11). The site summarizes one study that found a link between people who skipped breakfast and had atherosclerosis (11).
Atherosclerosis is a health condition whereby your arteries narrow and harden because of plaque buildup. Such buildup can lead to fatal heart attacks and stroke. Additionally, it can increase fat deposits around your waistline as well as your blood pressure and cholesterol levels (11).
Another study still summarized by WebMD shows that people who skipped breakfast were more likely to adopt other unhealthy practices. These include behaviors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and lack of exercise. These are among the risk factors that cause heart diseases (11).
It Regulates Your Blood Sugar
Breakfast intake also keeps your blood sugar levels steady throughout the day regardless of whether you have diabetes or not (11). If you do not have diabetes, this may help you prevent insulin resistance, a condition that may eventually lead to diabetes.
Similarly, it can lead to good moods. WebMD states that low blood sugar levels can affect your mood and make you angry, grumpy, or nervous (11). Diabetic individuals should not skip breakfast as it is likely to lead to low blood sugar or hypoglycemia.
Hypoglycemia is a fatal health problem that can lead to several complications if not addressed on time. According to Medical News Today, it can lead to seizures, coma, loss of consciousness, and difficulties eating or drinking (1).
Pay attention to the early warning signs of hypoglycemia to avoid these life-threatening complications. The most common symptoms to look for include hunger, tremor, blurred vision, rapid or irregular heart rate, heart palpitations, shaking, and dizziness (1). In severe hypoglycemia, you may experience weakness, poor concentration, confusion, irritability, and coordination problems (1).
Breakfast Myths Debunked
Like any other meal, there are myths surrounding breakfast intake. The problem with such myths is that they confuse most people, making them question the importance of having this morning meal. Let us debunk each of these myths and state the respective facts.
Myth 1: Skipping Breakfast Can Lead To Weight Loss
There is a belief that skipping breakfast can promote weight loss. The rationale behind this is that skipping this meal will reduce the overall consumed calories (9). Reduced calorie intake may promote weight loss since your body burns more calories than consuming.
Fact: Skipping breakfast does not promote weight loss in any way. Instead, a recent systematic review and meta-analysis concluded that skipping breakfast is associated with increased risk of overweight and obesity.
This goes to show that skipping breakfast might do more harm than good to your waistline.
Myth 2: Eating Breakfast Aids Weight Loss
While some people believe skipping breakfast can promote weight loss, others believe having it can encourage weight loss. The rationale behind this is that you can shed pounds so long as you are eating good breakfast foods.
Fact: Medical News Today acknowledges that eating a morning meal or not isn’t the only factor which determines your success with weight loss (13). The only proven technique to prompt weight loss is maintaining a calorie deficit. A calorie deficit only occurs when you consume fewer calories than your body is burning (8).
It means that you can eat breakfast but still consume more calories than your body is burning. The effect is consuming more calories than your body is burning is not weight loss but weight gain.
Myth 3: Skipping Breakfast Can Make You Extra Hungry Throughout The Day
There is a belief that most people who skip breakfast tend to feel hungrier throughout the day. As a result, such people are believed to overeat during lunch or frequently snack until they get a proper meal.
Fact: One study found no evidence linking skipping breakfast to people eating more throughout the day (6). You may alternatively have had a heavy breakfast but constantly feel hungry, even before lunchtime. It can occur if your morning meal did not include any high-fiber foods.
Such foods are known to increase satiety levels, leaving you feeling fuller for longer (7). Some of the high-fiber foods you are advised to include in your breakfast meal include avocado, sweet potato, oranges, blackberries, raspberries, and chia seeds (7).
The Bottom Line
There are solid reasons why breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day. It provides energy for your daily activities, boosts your metabolism, improves cognitive performance, and prevents various health conditions.
Nonetheless, there are myths surrounding breakfast intake. They include skipping breakfast for weight loss, eating breakfast for weight loss, and feeling hungrier when you skip breakfast. There is no evidence to support these myths. Ensure you always talk to a professional for better guidance on safely and efficiently losing weight.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on for decision-making. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- All about hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Association of Breakfast Intake With Incident Stroke and Coronary Heart Disease: The Japan Public Health Center-Based Study (2016, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Breakfasts and your health (2014, health.harvard.edu)
- Breakfast: Is It the Most Important Meal? (2018, webmd.com)
- Eat or Skip Breakfast? The Important Role of Breakfast Quality for Health-Related Quality of Life, Stress and Depression in Spanish Adolescents (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Effect of breakfast on weight and energy intake: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials (2019, bmj.com)
- High-fiber foods for a healthful diet (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)
- How to safely and effectively create a calorie deficit for weight loss (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Medical myths: All about weight loss (2021, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Prospective study of breakfast eating and incident coronary heart disease in a cohort of male US health professionals (2013, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The Benefits of Eating Breakfast (2018, webmd.com)
- The best breakfast foods for health (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Weight loss: How important is eating breakfast? (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)