Breakfast has long held superiority status and taken precedence amongst all other daily meals. But aside from being the first meal, what merit does breakfast hold in acquiring the title of “most important meal”? It’s important to take a look at some of the evidence that supports such claims, including the benefits of, and, the drawbacks of not “breaking the fast”.
One of the immediate benefits from consuming a morning meal is, like any other meal, that it provides energy. However, unlike other meals later in the day, breakfast replenishes some of our energy stores we relied on overnight while asleep and fasting. In other words:
breakfast can sooner kick our metabolism out of the slowed, fasting rate from sleep, and into increased, awake mode.
Beyond providing energy, breakfast sets us up for success in various other ways:
Eating breakfast encourages healthier diet patterns due to the added opportunity for intake of important vitamins and minerals (especially through fortified, fiber-rich cereals) and reduced likelihood of eating later into the evening, at a time when eating becomes less ideal. Alongside our metabolism, cognition may also be kickstarted after breakfast, as studies support the influence of breakfast on increased alertness, mood, and attention.
This finding is consistent with our brain’s reliance on carbohydrates as its primary source of energy, given the tendency for this meal to be carbohydrate-rich.
Breakfast, however, is not necessarily the end-all be-all. A large portion of supporting evidence for breakfast benefits is derived from observational studies rather than the gold-standard randomized controlled trial studies. Many individuals find they naturally aren’t hungry in the morning, or find the thought of eating early to be nauseating. Rather than forcing food down when it isn’t welcome, listening to hunger cues from your body is key. The bottom line is that while breakfast presents a number of benefits, we should not put so much focus onto one meal so as to lose sight of the importance of consistently balanced meals throughout the rest of the day.
Please share below: what is your favorite breakfast?
Written by Lamar Dietetic Intern: Pietra Haracz