Did your mom always say that breakfast was the most important meal of the day? Turns out she was right. With modern times and an increasing busy schedule, it has become a commonplace for people all over the world to skip breakfast since they don’t seem to have ample time in the morning to have a proper meal. While some people can’t simply have a proper breakfast due to time restrictions, many are just doing it because they think that skipping it will help them loose weight. More and more researchers who study the morning meal are finding that breakfast plays a key role in healthy living. And yet many people sacrifice it in their rush to get out the door.
“The average American skips breakfast,” says Constance Brown-Riggs, MSEd, RD, CDE, CDN, registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator, and author of The African American Guide to Living Well With Diabetes. “You’re skipping breakfast and oftentimes you skip lunch as well, so by the time you do eat, you’re ravenous and overeat.” That’s not a good idea for a number of reasons, as researchers have come to understand.
So why is breakfast important?
Breakfast provides the body and brain with fuel after an overnight fast – that’s where its name originates, breaking the fast! Without breakfast you are effectively running on empty, like trying to start the car with no petrol.
Breakfast should be eaten within two hours of waking. A healthy breakfast should provide calories in the range of 20-35% of your guideline daily allowance (GDA).
Breakfast can be good for waistline too, research shows those who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight and more likely to be within their ideal weight range compared with breakfast skippers. If you skip breakfast, you’re more likely to reach for high sugar and fatty snacks mid-morning.
Not only that, but people who eat breakfast tend to have a healthier diet overall. “We know, when we look at the characteristics of individuals who are breakfast skippers, that they get inadequate amounts of fruits and vegetables,” says Heather Leidy, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology at the University of Missouri. “They are deficient in calcium and other minerals.” On average, breakfast skippers snack more often, eat more sugary, high-fat snacks, drink more soda, are more likely to overeat at night, and are more often overweight or obese than breakfast eaters.
Breakfast also restores glucose levels, an essential carbohydrate that is needed for the brain to function. Many studies have shown how eating breakfast can improve memory and concentration levels and it can also make us happier as it can improve mood and lower stress levels. In studies amongst children, breakfast can improve attainment, behavior and has been linked to improved grades. Just like any other organ in the body, the brain needs energy to work at it’s best!
People’s energy needs vary depending on activity levels and life stage but typically men require more energy than women. Growing children require a lot of energy, as an example boys aged 7-10yrs should consume approx. 1970 kcals per day, and girls aged 7-10yrs should consume approx. 1740 kcals. For adults, men require approx. 2500 kcals and women approx. 2000 kcals per day.
Long Term Health Benefits
As per National Health Service, eating breakfast has long term health benefits. It can reduce obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.