Breakfast literally means, “to break the fast.” It is the first meal of the day after a stretch of not eating overnight. Breakfast provides the body with important nutrients, to start the day feeling energized and nourished. Many also believe that it can promote weight loss.
However, is breakfast really the most important meal of the day?
As with most things in nutrition, the answer is not straightforward. While some research suggests that skipping breakfast is not harmful, other research suggests otherwise.
Eating regular meals and snacks, including breakfast kick starts your day on the right note. It gives your body the energy and nutrients to perform at its peak.
However, as long as a person can fit their nutrients in during other meals, breakfast may not be the most critical meal of the day.
Primarily, most of the claimed benefits of eating breakfast are from observational studies, (an observational study draws inferences from a sample to a population where the independent variable is not under the control of the researcher because of ethical concerns or logistical constraints.) which cannot prove cause and effect.
For example, one 2021 of 14 observational studies found that those who eat breakfast seven times per week have a reduced risk for health disease, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and stroke.
Again, this particular group of studies can only suggest that those who eat breakfast are more likely to have a reduced risk for the cardiovascular and metabolic diseases mentioned above. It cannot prove that breakfast is what is causing it.
The following are some of the nutrients that you miss when you skip breakfast; folates, calcium, iron, vitamin A, B1, B2,B3, Vitamin C and D.
Those who skipped breakfast also experienced larger spikes in blood glucose levels after eating. The authors of the study thus suggested that eating breakfast is vital for keeping our internal clock running on time.
At the end of the study, researchers concluded that eating breakfast did not have any significant impact on weight loss compared with not eating breakfast.
Because breakfast gives us the opportunity to fuel our body with nutrients, it is an important meal. However, according to recent studies, it may not be the most important meal of the day.
Eating breakfast and listening to your hunger signs is very important if you wake up hungry in the morning. However, if you get busy and skip breakfast one day, there is no need to feel guilty.
If you habitually skip breakfast, it is important to ensure you are optimizing your nutrient intake at other meals.
Ways to improve your health include:
- get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week
- strength training activities for all major muscle groups two or more days a week
- maintain a healthy weight
- limit added sugar, saturated fat, and processed food
- eat a variety of nutrient-dense foods
- pay attention to your body and hunger signs
- drink plenty of water
- avoid tobacco products and excessive alcohol use
- get at least 7 hours of sleep within a 24-hour period.