Is Breakfast The Most Important Meal of the Day?
Is breakfast the most important meal of the day? This is one of the most common questions I’ve had in practice. And to answer simply, yes it is. What you eat (or don’t eat) in the morning does dictate how you will feel for the rest of the day.
Read below to learn why breakfast is the most important meal of the day:
What you eat first in the morning will dictate your hunger level for the rest of the day. This is because what you eat (or don’t eat) first thing in the morning sets you up to be constantly hungry, or it sets you up to be full for hours.
An example of being constantly hungry all day is if you eat a breakfast high in carbs (such as a bagel or cereal) which will then spike your blood sugar, and then drop it just as quickly. When your body senses this drop in blood sugar, signals are sent to your brain to let you know that you need to eat some sugar quickly. So you eat something with sugar, you feel better, and your blood sugar goes up. And this cycle continues all. day. long.
An example of being satisfied during the day is if you eat a breakfast that does not spike your blood sugar (such as eggs) and instead keeps your blood sugar at an even level. This means that you will have a more gradual decrease in blood sugar and also a more gradual onset of hunger.
You want to start the day feeling energized and not sluggish, right? This means you need to start your day with food that is going to promote energy and not make you sleepy. Carbohydrates stimulate the feel good hormones (another reason we crave them) which also cause relaxation and sleepiness. Think about how you feel after eating a high carbohydrate meal like pasta – you want to take a nap right?
Avoid carbohydrates in the morning to prevent that sluggish feeling and instead go for a mix of protein and fat which will allow for lasting energy and do not activate relaxing hormones.
Have you ever experienced the dreaded “hangry?” It’s when you literally get angry at everything and everyone because you are so hungry. Hangry happens because your blood sugar has dropped so low that stress signals are sent to your brain telling you that you are in danger and need to eat immediately. So what do you crave when you get hangry? Sugar and carbs because eating sugary foods is what will increase your blood sugar the quickest. And the cycle continues. This is why starting the day with something high in sugar can set you up for these highs and lows all day long.
What you eat or don’t eat can definitely affect your concentration level – especially first thing in the morning. If you eat something that will keep you full and satisfied for several hours, then you can concentrate at your tasks at hand and not be worrying about nagging hunger constantly. If you eat something that spikes and drops your blood sugar constantly, you are definitely going to feel distracted and lethargic.
Sets the tone for the day
Have you ever had a donut first thing in the morning and then continued to indulge in treats the rest of the day? If you start the day indulging it can make you want to continue to indulge the rest of the day. On the flip side, if you eat a healthy breakfast first thing, this sets a healthy tone of the day and makes you want to continue to eat healthy.
Breakfast is definitely the most important meal of the day for the reasons described above. Set yourself up for a good day by eating a healthy breakfast low in sugar and high in fat, protein, and/or fiber.
About the author: Sarah-Kate Rems is an Ivy League trained board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with an expertise in preventative healthcare. She considers nutrition and exercise to be the basis of well-being and is a strong advocate for daily physical activity and maintaining a healthy diet. Sarah-Kate is also a co-founder of The Mindful Tech Lab