Breakfast has been touted as the most important meal of the day for what feels like forever. Most people take this as fact but much of the American breakfast consists of over-sugared cereals or quick grab-and-go foods. Some even skip breakfast altogether. Like everything when dealing with making changes in your diet or exercise, it's important to do some research. So we'll help you answer the two most important questions about breakfast. Does the science back up the importance of eating breakfast and what should we eat so that we're not just loading up on sugar in the morning?
Let’s get this out of the way quickly -- breakfast is important. Multiple studies have found that those that skipped breakfast increased their risk for a number of diseases like coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, poor cholesterol, elevated blood pressure, and stroke (Delley & Brunner, 2019). Breakfast composition has even been found to have an impact on BMI (Delley & Brunner, 2019). Cereals (the grain kind like breads – not breakfast cereal) and dairy were found to protect against high BMI while processed meats, cheese, and heavy butter uses were found to be linked to higher risk (Delley & Brunner, 2019). Many health organizations suggest nutrient-dense foods and encourage including fruit, dairy, grains, or eggs for your breakfast (Delley & Brunner, 2019). This isn’t to say that you should eat a ton to get all of these groups in though. Portion control is essential during any meal in order to prevent weight gain.
Having breakfast is especially important for school-aged children (Lepkowska, 2015). Children that ate breakfast were found to have an easier time concentrating, were absent less due to illness, had higher grades, and were less likely to be disruptive in the classroom (Lepkowska, 2015). Breakfast is essential for providing your body with the energy and calories it needs for whatever activities lay ahead (Sivarajan, Preetha, & Devi, 2018). After sleeping, your body needs nutrients for the day and a healthy breakfast should have you consuming about 20-35% of the calories in your daily allowance (Sivarajan, Preetha, & Devi, 2018). Eating breakfast immediately raises your energy level and restores the blood glucose level to normal after not eating anything during sleep (Sivarajan, Preetha, & Devi, 2018). The carbohydrates you eat help your muscles and nervous system have the fuel they need for physical activity and cognitive function (Sivarajan, Preetha, & Devi, 2018). Breakfast also immediately lowers the amount of stress hormone in our bodies – while sleep is psychologically non-stressful, it is actually pretty physiologically stressful so make sure to eat something in the mornings (Sivarajan, Preetha, & Devi, 2018).
Eating a healthy breakfast that includes portion control and food groups like, fruit, grains, and dairy can have an impact on our body satisfaction as well (Hayes, Giles, Mahoney, & Kanarek, 2018). So, take mind of what you are starting your day with. You need fuel to be able to perform at your best and it is important to make sure it is good, nutrient dense, healthy fuel on top of that. Eating a healthy breakfast can prevent disease, weight gain, and can enhance your ability to concentrate and avoid illness. Allot time for yourself to eat in the morning or find a way to meal prep a healthy meal before hand because if you walk out the door without eating, you are setting your body up to fail.
Want some help in figuring out exactly what to eat for breakfast? We have classes for that! Stop by our healthy eating class and learn about some tasty but healthy meals you can make for you or your family. We also offer grocery shopping tours and nutrition consulting that will help you pick out foods to fuel your body in a healthy way. Make sure to also take care of your physical fitness and have a workout with one of our personal trainers, join a group fitness class, or do a 30/30 wellness workout.
Delley, M., & Brunner, T. A. (2019). Breakfast eating patterns and drivers of a healthy breakfast composition. Food Science and Management, 90-98.
Hayes, J., Giles, G., Mahoney, C., & Kanarek, R. (2018). Breakfast food health and acute exercise: Effects on state body image. Eating Behaviors, 22-27.
Lepkowska, D. (2015). The importance of a healthy breakfast to start the school day. British Journal of School Nursing, 171-174.
Sivarajan, M., Preetha, S., & Devi, R. G. (2018). Effect of skipping breakfast and its impact on blood pressure. Drug Invention Today, 2890-2892.