We’re often told we should be eating breakfast. Since our breakfast breaks the overnight fasting period, it’s the first thing to touch our lips when we wake up after a good night’s sleep.
When we were kids, our parents often told us we needed breakfast to be big and strong. And while that may have been somewhat true, as adults, are we any more aware of the benefits of eating breakfast?
Well, not really.
Many say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but aside from being the first meal of the day, what are the true benefits of eating breakfast? Let’s dig in.
Is breakfast important?
There are many reasons why our parents encouraged us to eat breakfast in the morning.
Alongside other classics like ‘carrots help you see the in dark’, our younger selves probably never questioned why breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Our parents were just pleased we ate it – even without knowing the benefits of breakfast necessarily.
But now, in adulthood, we often skip a healthy breakfast through inconvenience, a lack of time, a desire to lose weight, or because we’d prefer to scoff a snack on the drive to work.
I’m here to tell you why is it important to eat breakfast – and no, I’m not talking about scoffing cookies!
Why is breakfast so important?
Many dieters opt for intermittent fasting to lose weight, but we actually forget that we naturally ‘fast’ overnight. The majority of us eat dinner around 7pm, meaning we can easily go 12 hours before we eat again.
And that’s if you’re an early bird!
But why is breakfast so important? What are the benefits of eating breakfast?
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for many reasons. One of which is energy. Our body’s energy source is glucose, which is the result of breaking down carbs. You’ve probably heard it before, but not all carbs are bad for you.
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Nor are all fats considered the same! But before you go scoffing a bag of donuts, it’s important to the benefits of eating breakfast – a healthy one.
Our bodies store most of its energy as fat, but some glucose also gets stored as glycogen predominantly in the liver and your muscles. This is why in order to lose weight, we must be consuming fewer calories and burning more, boosting our bodies to look at these fat stores for energy.
And so, when you choose to fast (in other words, don’t eat), such as while you’re sleeping, the liver breaks down this glycogen and slowly releases it into your bloodstream as glucose. This ensures your blood sugar levels remain steady.
When we first wake up, these glycogen stores are relatively low, since we haven’t eaten in some 10 hours or so.
So, if you’re wondering why is breakfast so important and questioning what your parents have been going on about for so long… It’s all down to energy!
While skipping breakfast for a cup of coffee may be tempting, one benefit of breakfast is its steady energy source when you choose a healthy, filling, meal – Such as oats, which keep you feeling full and slowly release energy so you can tackle the day ahead.
Essential vitamins and nutrients
When I was younger, my Mom told me I wouldn’t grow up big and strong if I didn’t eat my fruit and vegetables… And my breakfast.
Now, I totally see how important breakfast is, not only for energy, but also for the other health benefits it provides.
Depending on your breakfast choice, many foods first things are rich in key nutrients our bodies need to function, grow and remain healthy. Many breakfast foods are high in calcium, vitamin B, fiber, folate and iron, giving us a daily dose of crucial nutrients.
If you’re a natural breakfast-skipper, you could be losing out on key nutrients and not hitting your recommended daily intake. So even though your body will probably have enough energy to get you through to lunch, skipping breakfast means you’re missing out on important vitamins and minerals.
This is just one of the many benefits of eating breakfast in the morning!
Keep tabs on your weight
According to studies, skipping breakfast is commonly associated with being overweight or obese. While there is plenty of room for further research into the benefits of eating breakfast for weight control, some research has shown that:
- Filling breakfast foods set us up for the day, helping curb hunger pangs and therefore making us less likely to snack on unhealthy foods
- Breakfast helps us maintain steady blood glucose levels, preventing large fluctuations that may lead to unhealthy snacking
However, some believe that fasting through to lunch enables them to stay in control of their weight goals. But this may depend on your willpower to refrain from reaching for snacks that are easy to grab on the go.
Breakfast boosts focus
As well as giving us a spring in our step in terms of energy first thing, another benefit of breakfast is its brainpower boosting abilities!
When you choose to skip breakfast or opt for an unhealthy alternative, it’s easy to feel sluggish and lack motivation or focus on simple tasks. This goes back to our previous point on glucose levels. Since we wake up with relatively low stores, skipping breakfast deprives our brain of crucial energy (glucose) to get going.
Think about it. If you got in your car without any gas in the tank, you’re going nowhere! The same can happen with skipping breakfast and expecting our mind and body to find the motivation to get going.
According to studies, there are many benefits of eating breakfast, including a boost in brainpower and attentional capacity.
So if you’re sat at your desk struggling to keep your eyes open and lacking focus – it’s time to get breakfast into your morning routine!
Is breakfast important for your health? Of course, it is.
Aside from delivering crucial minerals and nutrients to your body, studies have shown that breakfast eaters reduce their risks of heart disease.
If you’re someone that heads out the door without food first thing, you could be increasing your risk of heart disease by a whopping 27% according to research. And that’s not all.
Further studies have shown that skipping breakfast has been associated with a 20% increased risk of type 2 diabetes in women. So before you go running out the door, take the time to soak up the many benefits of breakfast and get your morning dose of focus, energy and important nutrients too!
Benefits of breakfast: Better food decisions
Those who choose to have breakfast typically have a healthier diet in general, better eating habits and are less likely to grab a cart full of snacks on their lunch break.
As kids, setting up the day with a healthy breakfast has also shown to encourage healthy eating longer term, far into adulthood. While those who prefer to skip food first thing are more likely to grab quick meals that are often processed and packed with sugars.
It comes as no surprise that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, since we can gain so much from it! Breakfast allows us to avoid snacking, stay focused and choose foods that are high in fiber and important vitamins – in comparison to convenient snacks that are high in fat, sugar and often salt.
Benefits of eating a healthy breakfast
Grabbing any old meal in the morning isn’t quite the same as having a healthy breakfast. Sure, eating food first thing can help set us up for the day ahead, but quick, sugar-filled foods can have less impact than you may think.
Many of us are fans of these sweet cereals and they remain a firm favorite across the US. However, grabbing a bowl of Lucky Charms may feel like you’re doing the right thing, but it won’t have the same effects as a healthy breakfast.
Instead, try switching sweet cereals for oatmeal which is incredibly nutritious and can help lower cholesterol levels and protect LDL (good cholesterol!).
Plus, since these whole oats are packed with antioxidants, they not only give you give your health a boost, but also help you feel fuller for longer. Say goodbye to mid-morning snacking!
What happens when you skip breakfast?
Since we’ve covered why is it important to eat breakfast and the many benefits of breakfast first thing, let’s talk about what happens when you skip it!
Well, surely it’s just the opposite of the benefits of eating breakfast? Let’s see.
According to studies, skipping breakfast in the morning heightens your risk of type 2 diabetes, amongst many other health concerns. Typically, older women are most likely to skip having breakfast in the morning, as well as:
- Those that are underweight or overweight
- People with a poor diet
- Those who have low activity levels
- People who don’t get enough sleep
But why are so many people skipping breakfast? And how important is breakfast really on your health? Let’s explore it some more.
There are many reasons why someone may opt for skipping breakfast. These are some of the most common reasons:
- Choosing extra time in bed or not having enough time in the morning
- Feeling too tired to bother making breakfast
- Trying to lose weight and avoid eating
- Lack of hunger in the morning
- Feeling bored of the same breakfast each day
- Not having breakfast foods in the house
- Cultural reasons
- Costs associated with buying breakfast
While we’ve covered the many benefits of breakfast and debated why is it important to eat breakfast, if you do decide to skip it, you’ll need to make up for the nutrients you will have missed first thing.
Better get packing those vitamins into your lunch and dinner!
What are the best breakfast foods?
As we already mentioned, opting for sugary cereals won’t quite fill you up as much as you may think. Plus, many lack important nutrients.
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Instead, try some of the following quick suggestions that won’t break the bank or take hours to put together:
- Oatmeal – Opt for plain oats and add fruit for extra sweetness. Avoid already flavored oats they usually contain preservatives and extra sugars
- Fresh fruits and nuts
- Smoothies – These are great if you need something on the go or don’t fancy sitting down for breakfast. Simply make it the night before with fresh fruit or veg, natural yogurt and milk
- Natural yogurt with fresh fruit for natural sweetness
- Wholegrain cereals – Such as bran cereals and untoasted muesli. Add low fat milk or natural yogurt
- Whole wheat toast with poached or boiled eggs
Low on time in the morning?
Of course, many of us prefer the extra time in bed or simply don’t feel as though we have enough time in the morning for a healthy breakfast!
Luckily, many healthy breakfast foods can be prepared the night before, such as overnight oats, smoothies or healthy muffins.
If you’re really low on time, try keeping some breakfast foods at work (if you can!) to enjoy when you arrive. Where possible, we’d always recommend having breakfast at home and setting an alarm slightly early to allow for breakfast.
Instead of laying in bed scrolling through social media, get your butt out and into the kitchen to grab a healthy breakfast!
Not really a breakfast person?
Many of us claim we simply aren’t breakfast people. However, there’s usually a reason why some of us prefer to skip the many benefits of breakfast! Crazy, huh?
- We eat too late at night or eat too much and don’t feel hungry in the morning
- It’s easy to feel bored with breakfast foods. In this case, try out some new recipes when you have some time and get inspired into trying new foods!
- Really not ready for food first thing? Try having your breakfast a little later. Whether you choose to have breakfast when you get to work, or drink a smoothie on the way there, find the right time that works for you (and your stomach!)
Ready for breakfast and reaching your goals?
Whether you quickly run out of time in the morning or find yourself rushing around after the kids, having breakfast isn’t always easy.
But skipping breakfast can mean you lose track of your weight loss goals, and find yourself edging towards those unhealthy snacks!
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