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The Importance of Breakfast

Updated: Nov 3, 2023

Breakfast has long been touted as the most important meal of the day, but is it really true? With the rise of intermittent fasting and the increase in the number of breakfast skippers, many people are questioning the benefits of eating breakfast.


A well-known saying attributed to Adelle Davis advises to "Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper." There may be more to this age-old advice than meets the eye. In this article, we will explore the potential benefits of eating a balanced meal in the morning and whether it truly lives up to its reputation. So, is breakfast really the king of meals? Let's find out.


A nutritious breakfast helps control hunger.


Feeling Hungry

For someone who would like to lose weight or even maintain their weight the idea of eating more meals a day seems contradictory. After all, consuming fewer calories leads to shedding pounds therefore skipping the morning meal to cut back on those calories seems like a good idea. However, according to research, breakfast is a critical meal when it comes to weight management.


The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has reported that eating breakfast can help reduce feelings of hunger throughout the day, which is important for meeting calorie goals. The National Weight Loss Control Registry which is tracking over 10,000 individuals who have lost significant amounts of weight and kept it off for long periods of time, found that individuals who regularly eat in the morning are more successful in keeping the weight off over time.


It is true that a balanced morning meal may not directly cause weight loss but it is also important to recognize that the benefits of breakfast extend beyond its direct impact on weight. Many individuals who consume a nutritious breakfast also engage in various other healthy behaviors to prevent weight gain.


"When" we eat matters.


Circadian clock

The "circadian clock" is a well-known concept. Every cell in our bodies operates based on a "clock" and each and every one of us possesses this fascinating and intricate internal timekeeper, the result of our adaptation to the light and dark that unfolds within a single day. It is this internal biological clock that regulates various functions in our bodies, including sleep-wake cycles, feeding behavior, metabolism, and even endocrine functions.


In our busy modern lives we often ignore or forget about our body's "clock" and research shows that the disruption of circadian rhythms can have a significant impact on our overall health, leading to increased levels of stress hormones and various markers of inflammation.


Let's take the case of shift workers who experience changes in their sleep patterns and large variation in daily routine. According to research studies, shift workers have higher rates of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. One notable aspect is their tendency to skip breakfast or even regular meals, opting for larger evening meals and consuming a higher overall calorie intake, which can result in differences in weight.

The science of chrononutrition is a developing field, with emerging studies highlighting the significance of timing of meals for overall body function, including muscle gain. A study conducted by scientists from Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan, found that consuming sufficient protein in the morning may have a greater impact on maintaining and increasing muscle mass and strength compared to protein consumed later in the day.


In summary, food and the window of time we choose to eat can have a significant impact on resetting our body's internal clock. This can help us improve our performance, prevent disease and muscle loss, promote optimal health, and potentially even extend our lifespan through appropriate food choices and feeding schedules.


The effect of breakfast on insulin sensitivity.


Insulin sensitivity

One of the well proven health benefits for breakfast eaters is its impact on insulin sensitivity. Research studies have shown that consuming a larger morning meal on a regular basis can lead to improved insulin sensitivity compared to having a larger dinner.


Who benefits most from this? Individuals with metabolic syndrome, diabetes or those who have increased fasting triglycerides and total cholesterol. Additionally, women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) may also experience benefits in terms of ameliorating hyperandrogenism and even improving ovulation rate.


Making breakfast a regular part of your routine can have positive effects on your body's insulin response and help lower the blood glucose levels.


What's the best breakfast?


high protein breakfast

Research suggests that consuming lean proteins in the morning is recommended. Although sweet breakfast choices may be tempting, savory options are actually more advisable. Consuming animal protein in the morning can promote the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that stimulates the mind and boosts your motivation to tackle the day ahead.


In addition to enhancing energy levels, motivation and alertness, having protein-rich breakfast can also help you feel full for a longer period of time and reduce the urge to snack later in the day. And it is worth noting that protein is the most satiating macronutrient and requires more energy to be broken down by the body.


On the other hand, foods like bagels that are high in refined carbohydrates can cause spikes and drops in blood sugar levels, leaving you feeling unsatisfied and craving for more food. Therefore, it's best to make choices that prioritize protein and avoid options that may lead to fluctuations in blood sugar levels.


Are you debating what source of energy to choose in the morning? Consider the mighty egg, one of the most simple but nutritious food choices. It provides high-quality protein and is packed with essential vitamins and minerals. However, if you're looking for variety, there are other protein sources to consider such as greek yogurt, whole grain cereals, low-fat milk or low-fat cheese, fish or soy products, to name a few. Ultimately, the best choice depends on your personal preferences and dietary needs.


What if I am not hungry in the morning?


If you find yourself not feeling hungry in the morning, there's no need to force yourself to eat. It is perfectly fine to skip breakfast as long as you maintain a balanced diet throughout the day. In fact, this may allow your body some rest time from digestion. However, it's important to avoid compensating by snacking excessively later in the day.


When you do feel hungry, opt for a balanced energy source like fruit, yogurt, and nuts.

While maintaining a consistent sleeping and eating schedule is important for overall well-being, the concept of eating a healthy breakfast may not apply to everyone in the same way. There are individual differences and we must adapt our approach accordingly.


CONCLUSION


Breakfast is not a magic solution, but it can play a role in supporting a healthy lifestyle. It can help us to establish regular eating habits and to make healthier food choices, which ultimately can aid in achieving our weight-loss or weight maintenance goals.


We must also remember that we all have different circadian rhythms. For the majority of us, the timing of breakfast and consuming protein in the morning is best for muscle growth or maintaining muscle mass. When choosing what to eat, keep in mind that an adequate breakfast includes more savory options rather than sweet to begin the day.

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