Breakfast – Why is it so important?
Break the fast, kick off the day
There is an old saying, “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and supper like a pauper”. Breakfast should just be what the word implies, “break the fast” of the previous night. Breakfast is the first meal of the day and is when we break the overnight fast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day as it refuels our bodies and replenishes your blood sugar after the overnight fast, providing you sufficient energy and nutrients to start a fresh new day!
Unfortunately, many people have it backwards – skip breakfast, have light lunch and pack all the fuel supply into late evening meals and go to bed soon after the last meal. Imagine you are going on a day trip. If your gas tank is empty, will you fill it up before you start your journey or at the end of the journey? You won’t take the risk of filling it up later as you know that you will be trouble if you didn’t fill it up before you travel.
Think of your day as a journey and think of your breakfast as the fuel required to start the journey. Your body requires a lot more energy during the day to carry out daily activities throughout the day and therefore burns off the energy more quickly and effectively with greater metabolism. When it comes to the evening time, your body is gradually entering the resting mode and does not require as much energy as during the day, as it is about to rest. You need more energy at the beginning of the day than at the end of the day.
Main Reasons Why breakfast Is So Important
1. Boost your nutrient intake.
People who eat breakfast, especially a healthy breakfast are likely to consume more vitamins and minerals and less fat and cholesterol. Without a proper supply of nutrients, you brain doesn’t function well. Studies have revealed that people who do not eat a regular breakfast do no perform at their best in various tasks (1,2). Starting your day with a good, nutritious breakfast will energise you, satisfy hunger through the morning, and provide antioxidants and phytochemicals that add up to help protect you against cancer and heart disease.
2. Less like to be overweight
What happen when you eat a large heavy supper and go to bed soon after?
Your body will take much longer time to digest the food eaten as your poor stomach is still working hard while you sleep. It is likely that the food ingested will remain partially digested in the stomach until the next day. You get up the next day feeling tired and no appetite for breakfast as your stomach is still full of left over food from the night before! Overtime, the unused energy from eating heavy evening meals will eventually convert into fat stores! This explains why people gain weight more easily when having large late meals despite of having less calorie intake than those who eat a substantial breakfast on a regular basis.
3. Make healthier food choices throughout the day
Interestingly, studies reveal that children and adults who eat breakfast regularly are likely to make healthier food choices and less likely to snack impulsively on high fat and sugary foods (3,4). They also tend to less overeat throughout the rest of the day (5,6,7).
For people who tend to skip breakfast, they will be likely to have coffee and some sugary snacks later in the morning to stimulate the brain to stay awake as the energy and blood sugar levels go down without adequate fuel supply. Skipping breakfast increases the appetite and hunger later on. Certainly, it increases the likelihood of snacking. Snack choices, as we all know, are rarely vegetable sticks or fresh fruit, but are more likely sugar-loaded, high-fat foods such as pies, bars, biscuits, burgers and other calorie-dense foods.
Eating a good breakfast is important for good health. Skipping breakfast is associated with mid-morning fatigue, poor concentration and mood, and a greater risk of accidents. The benefits of regularly eating breakfast are best appreciated by experience. A good breakfast is an essential part of our everyday eating routine—the best meal of the day.
- Boschloo A., Ouwehand C., Dekker S., Lee N., De Groot R., Krabbendam L., et al. (2012). The relation between breakfast skipping and school performance in adolescents. Mind Brain Educ. 6, 81–88 10.
- Defeyter M, Russo R. The effect of breakfast cereal consumption on adolescents' cognitive performance and mood. Front Hum Neurosci. 2013; 7: 789.
- Moore FF, Kim J, Sritharan N, Petocz P. Impact of Breakfast Skipping and Breakfast Choice on the Nutrient Intake and Body Mass Index of Australian Children. Nutrients. 2016 Aug; 8(8): 487
- Deshmukh-Taskar PR, Radliffe J, Liu Y, Nicklas T. Do breakfast skipping and breakfast type affect energy intake, nutrient intake, nutrient adequacy, and diet quality in young adults? NHANES 1999–2002. J Am Coll Nutr 2010a;29:407–18 [PubMed]
- de la Hunty A., Gibson S., Ashwell M. (2013). Does regular breakfast cereal consumption help children and adolescents stay slimmer? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Obes. Facts 6, 70–85 10.1159/000348878 [PubMed]
- de la Hunty A, Ashwell M. Are people who regularly eat breakfast cereals slimmer than those who don't? A systematic review of the evidence. Nutr Bull2007;32:118–28
- de la Hunty A, Gibson S, Ashwell M. Does regular breakfast cereal consumption help children and adolescents stay slimmer? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Obes Facts 2013;6:70–85 [PubMed]