Breakfast is everything. It's the most important meal as it fuels us for the rest of the day. Or is it? Let's break it down and look at different eating patterns when having or skipping breakfast. This article will answer all your questions on breakfast: when to eat it, what to eat, and if it's healthy to skip it.
Breakfast is the first meal of the day that breaks the nightly fast.
There are many health benefits of incorporating breakfast into your lifestyle.
Some of the nutritious breakfast ideas include eggs, oats, or cottage cheese.
Breakfast myths might confuse you, so always aim for wholesome foods that work best for you.
Breakfast is the first meal of the day that usually breaks the nightly fast. It is eaten in the morning and is considered to be the most essential meal of the day. Breakfast ideas are endless starting from an avocado toast and finishing with pancakes topped with maple syrup, but are all breakfast equal?
Some people connect breakfast with weight loss and claim that skipping it might lead to weight gain. While others, especially, fans of intermittent fasting might omit breakfast at all due to the timing restrictions. So, what's the right way to go?
Benefits of eating breakfast
Although, breakfast skippers might argue with this but having a morning meal has a number of benefits related to overall health. They include:
Meeting daily nutritional needs
Although your nutritional needs can absolutely be achieved without eating breakfast, it is much easier to meet your daily macronutrients, especially protein with breakfast being a part of your lifestyle. Having enough protein is essential because it builds the hormones and cells your body requires to stay healthy while also rebuilding muscle tissue and key organs.
Usually healthy and nutritious breakfasts have about 20–30 g of protein per meal. Some of the great examples of a high protein breakfast include:
- Eggs (poached, scrambled, omelette).
- Oats (baked, overnight) with yogurt or protein powder.
- Wholegrain toast with peanut butter and banana.
- Greek yogurt with fruits, berries and nuts.
- Cottage cheese with toppings.
- Smoothies with added protein powders.
Lowering your risk for type 2 diabetes
One observational study conducted with 96,175 participants found that skipping breakfast, even from time to time, leads to a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Although we can't directly link skipping breakfast and the development of type 2 diabetes, many doctors suggest shifting your lifestyle towards incorporating a healthy and nutritious breakfast into your diet. Having a balanced breakfast with protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats fosters stable blood sugar levels, crucial for preventing type 2 diabetes.
Cardiovascular health and atherosclerosis
The results of a recent study from the University of Iowa show that skipping breakfast may be detrimental to cardiovascular health. About 87% of participants who tend to omit breakfast are indicated to have a higher mortality risk associated with cardiovascular disease than those who did.
High fiber breakfast
Healthy eating is an essential asset of maintaining a healthy heart, and nourishing breakfast is an inseparable part of it. Rich in fiber breakfasts, such as oats or barley contain beta-glucans which might lower cholesterol levels and prevent cardiovascular disease.
High in fiber breakfast ideas:
- Oats (topped with fruits and nuts)
- Chia pudding
- Wholegrain toast (with peanut butter and banana)
Skipping breakfast means cutting out a few hundred of your daily calories. In order to compensate, people tend to snack more during the day and in the evening. One study suggests that having a full nutrient-dense meal in the morning might help control your appetite and prevent overeating throughout the rest of the day.
Although some people might skip breakfast or follow a certain type of intermittent fasting in order to stay in a calorie deficit, it can seriously disrupt hunger-regulating hormones, lower blood sugar levels, and blunt the natural body's satiety signals, all of which may contribute to overeating during subsequent meals later in the day.
Improved energy level
Nutrient-dense breakfast can provide your body with energy necessary to properly start the day. It helps to kick off your metabolism, reduce fatigue and nourish your brain. Our body requires calories to simply survive.
Breakfast breaks the overnight fasting period and restores the supply of glucose which boosts your energy and alertness through the whole day.
Especially, for people who work out in the morning, fast training might seem like an easy way to burn even more calories. However, be mindful that skipping breakfast can be detrimental to your overall health and athletic progress. All the studies related to fasted training were conducted on obese men and there is no evidence, regarding women and endurance athletes. On the contrary, it can be harmful and might cause overall nutrition deficiencies if performed on a regular basis. Surely, fasted training can be performed, but only with low intensity and for a short period of time (less than an hour).
There is so much information online and for a person without any medical background it might be a challenge to sort it all out in order to find a reliable piece of advice. With all the mentioned above, here is where all the myths will be torn down and your new health journey will begin.
- Skipping will make you lose weight. Although, omitting breakfast might lead to an overall daily calorie deficit, disrupted hunger and satiety cues can lead to binge eating during subsequent meals and cause a weight gain in the long term.
- Breakfast must be the biggest meal of the day. However having a healthy and sufficient breakfast is important, overeating and having an excessive meal in the morning, especially early morning isn't recommended and might make you feel sluggish, cause gastrointestinal discomfort, bloating, or gas.
- No dairy in the morning. Many people avoid yogurts, cottage cheese, and milk in the morning. Yes, if you are lactose intolerant, and suffer from digestive or gastric issues finding a dairy alternative is essential. However, for the general population, dairy products for breakfast are a great source of calcium and protein necessary for muscle synthesis and healthy bones.
- Having a glass of orange juice in the morning is healthy. Although juice is considered to be a healthy beverage, one glass of orange juice has around 20–25 g of sugar. Instead, aim for a wholesome fruit that can provide more fiber and will keep you fuller longer.
So, is skipping breakfast bad?
It depends on your goals. Breakfast is optional. In the world of nutrition, there is no such thing as "good or bad". The same comes with breakfast. It definitely has multiple benefits including promoting cardiovascular health, preventing type 2 diabetes, and improving energy levels. However, occasional breakfast skipping is not likely to cause any major harm. Some people may feel nauseous in the morning and cannot simply eat anything. Whereas, for example, people who skip dinner the night prior, feel starvation in the morning.
Yes, having a nutritious breakfast has many health benefits but for some people skipping breakfast works better. Choose the right way for yourself that fully meets your nutritional needs. Our bodies process differently, but if you have never eaten breakfast and suddenly decided to begin, better to start easy and incorporate different products gradually.
Overall, breakfast is very individual and there's no straightforward answer to whether you should or shouldn't eat it. Despite many health benefits that come with it, skipping breakfast and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is possible, as long as your overall dietary habits and lifestyle support your health needs.
- The Journal of Nutrition. Breakfast Skipping Is Associated with Increased Risk of Type 2 Diabetes among Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies.
- Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Association of Skipping Breakfast With Cardiovascular and All-Cause Mortality.
- Cambridge University Press. Skipping breakfast is associated with nutrient gaps and poorer diet quality among adults in the United States.
- Nutrition&Metabolism. Association between breakfast skipping and metabolic outcomes by sex, age, and work status stratification.