Is Breakfast Really the Most Important Meal of the Day?Posted on : February 2, 2022
Most of us were raised with the saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Recently this century old saying has been brought into the spotlight and questioned. It seems like a game of tennis with the for and against both including breakfast as an essential part of a healthy lifestyle and ideal weight. So where does the greatest support on this issue really lie? The answer is not as simple as you might think.
Firstly, the time that breakfast is eaten varies from person to person. Studies have shown that having a decent fasting period between your last meal of the day and breakfast the next is beneficial for your health in many ways, including gut health.
Having your ‘eating window’ in an 8-10-hour period appears to be the best number in terms of maintaining a healthy weight, leaving a fasting period of 14-16 hours. So, if you ate your last meal at 10pm at night, eating breakfast at 6:30am may not be the best strategy. You don’t need to be following an intermittent fasting diet, but having a set window of eating within a day gives your body time to reset over the fasting period and prevents overeating and the onset of the midnight munchies.
Secondly, the quality of your first meal matters. Don’t break your fast with a burger and fries with a coke. Having a balanced meal including a quality carbohydrate source for brain and central nervous system fuel as well as protein to keep you feeling fuller for longer are two essential components. For the win, adding a serve of fruit or veg to the meal sets your body up for a winning start to the day.
Delicious breakfast ideas include:
- 2 Weetbix with a cup of milk and a banana.
- 2 pieces of wholegrain toast with Safcol Brisling Sardines in Tomato Sauce (110g) and a cup of cooked spinach, mushrooms and tomato.
- 2 pieces of wholegrain toast with ½ an avocado, ½ a cup of cottage or ricotta cheese and Safcol Salmon Pouches with Mild Red Chilli (100g).
- Smoothie with 100g yogurt, ½ cup of oats, 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of mixed berries.
- 1 cup of baked beans with 2 pieces of wholegrain toast and 40g cheddar cheese.
Being a savvy eater means preparing your schedule for success. Not preparing your own breakfast has been shown to negatively impact the quality of your diet almost as much as skipping breakfast entirely. The reason being that you are at the mercy of whatever the shops, cafés and restaurants choose to serve. These options are often high in fat, sugar and salt, and can lack the balance and long-term energy of a home prepped meal.
Take home message
So, does eating breakfast really matter? Ultimately, yes. If your first meal isn’t well balanced, it will almost certainly lead to poor choices later in the day. Your mind only has limited willpower after a fast that has left your blood sugar levels low and your stomach ready to eat anything — you are more likely to reach for the fried food or sweet treat. The age old saying really holds true that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, however adding ‘quality of breakfast’ and ‘timing of fast’ would make it a complete and true statement.
- Grimes M, Kuczmarski MF, Bodt BA, Baker SD, Fang C, Zonderman AB, et al. Breakfast Habits and Diet Quality in Economically Diverse African American and White Adults. Topics in Clinical Nutrition. 2018;33(3):237-46.