What’s so great about breakfast, anyway?
‘Breakfast’ means breaking the fast and we all do it at some point in our day, whether that’s at 7 am or noon. So before we dive into this, let’s get something straight from the start: just because breakfast is the most important meal of the day doesn’t mean that it’s for everyone. Some of us might not feel hungry upon waking up and in that case, it’s ok to skip breakfast. Just remember to listen to your hunger cues as a guide to your eating decisions.
Ultimately, when it comes to health, what you eat and how much you eat over the whole day will always be more important than any single meal. But if you skip breakfast due to lack of time or motivation and find yourself grabbing unhealthy snacks later in the morning, maybe it would be a good way to start the day!
Why is breakfast so important vs lunch and dinner?
The period between your last pre-bed meal and hitting the alarm is usually the longest stretch of time your body goes without fuel. Eating within 2 hours of waking up can greatly impact how your blood glucose (blood sugar) is regulated for the rest of the day. By skipping breakfast, it isn’t just your body that’s running on empty, your brain is too. Also the longer you put it off, the hungrier you’ll be when you actually sit down to eat which might lead to overeating and bad food choices.
While there are always contradicting nutritional studies, one piece of wisdom remains constant: having a meal after waking up might be the single most important food decision of your day. Certain diets may advocate for fasting sessions or other reasons to skip breakfast but there’s significant evidence that shows starting your day with a balanced meal has numerous benefits that last well beyond your morning routine.
1. Breakfast encourages healthier eating
Breakfasts high in protein can prevent mid-morning cravings or tendencies to overeat at lunchtime. When you skip breakfast and don’t have your appetite checked your hunger levels are much higher. This can make you more likely to choose unhealthy snacks or meals to provide relief, which leads to you consuming more calories than necessary.
2. It helps balance blood sugar levels
The period between your last pre-bed meal and hitting the alarm is usually the longest stretch of time your body goes without fuel. Eating within two hours of waking up can help keep blood sugar levels more steady for the rest of the day, which can also impact energy and focus.
3. Breakfast boosts energy level
Fuelling your body shortly after waking helps to top up the energy stores that your body has depleted overnight to repair and renew. It also helps to avoid the mid-morning slump; people who eat breakfast show an increased level of physical activity throughout their mornings compared to those who skip it.
4. It can jumpstart your metabolism
Breakfast jump-starts your metabolism early which helps burn more calories throughout the day. When you skip breakfast — and don’t eat any food for a long period of time — your body begins to store as many calories as it can in order to prepare for a potential period of starvation. If you’re trying to lose weight, skipping breakfast isn’t the way to do it.
5. Breakfast stimulates the brain
Your brain needs fuel to function and breakfast can really improve your mental performance, concentration, and even mood throughout the day. By stabilizing your blood glucose and keeping your appetite checked, you will prevent brain fog and be more productive. Without breakfast, you may struggle to focus and are more likely to be irritable and tired.
6. It may help you manage your weight
This might sound counterintuitive but you can lose weight by eating more. There are 3 main reasons why having breakfast can help you lose weight:
- It helps you feel fuller for longer and eat fewer calories throughout the day.
- It helps you make healthier snack and lunch choices
- It helps you be more active in the morning and burn more calories
7. It helps maintain muscle mass
Protein is essential for developing and maintaining muscle, and our body relies on the protein in our diet to help us do this. As your body can only use so much protein at one time, it’s important to space out your protein intake throughout the day.
8. You’ll get more vitamins and minerals every day
Besides being delicious and providing energy (calories), a healthy breakfast can give you the nutrients your body needs to properly function at its best, including fibre, vitamins, and minerals. 90% of people lack enough fibre in their diets, but those who eat breakfast are more likely to meet their recommended intake of vitamins and minerals compared to people who skip it.
9. Breakfast promotes heart health
People who skip breakfast tend to gain extra weight and have higher cholesterol and blood pressure levels, which increases the risk of heart disease. What you eat matters as much as when you eat so make sure you focus on healthy grains, proteins, and fruits and vegetables.
10. It helps you better manage stress
Eating breakfast can have a positive effect on cortisol – the primary ‘stress hormone’ which is produced by adrenal glands. Your levels of cortisol peak at around 7 am, which is why it’s important to eat something in the morning to bring the hormone levels back down. Feeling anxious or jittery are tell-tale signs of high cortisol levels and not a beneficial way to start the day.
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