Why does breakfast cause such debate, with many people missing the meal and how important is breakfast, which is supposed to do what its name implies i.e. break the fast?
You may have heard of the advice to “breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.” This was coined by popular nutrition author Adelle Davis back in the 1950s. Her advice back then did seem to stick. But changes in the stresses of everyday life, what is popular breakfast foods are available and the times that people have available to eat it have changed dramatically since then. So perhaps it’s a good time to question whether breakfast should be a meal for a king or should it just be skipped altogether?
“The most important meal of the day” isn’t a title anyone should give to any meal whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner. However, depending on what you actually eat, breakfast could set you up for the rest of the day.
Does skipping breakfast make you eat more?
Research shows that skipping breakfast causes the brain to become much more responsive to highly palatable foods (those generally with more fat, salt and sugar) and that people often eat more at lunchtime if they skip breakfast.
However, studies that followed people in their normal routines showed that the overall energy intake throughout the day was in fact lower when people skipped breakfast than if they’d eaten it. So, despite greater hunger during the morning and some compensation at lunch, the effect of skipping breakfast doesn’t seem to make people overshoot the calorie deficit. However this doesn’t mean it is an effective way of losing weight!
Does breakfast “kick start” your metabolism?
Eating sets in motion the processes associated with digesting and storing food, which results in increased energy expenditure. This increase in energy expenditure is greater in the morning than the evening.
Recent evidence has found that people who eat breakfast used more energy through physical activity (especially in the morning) than those who skipped it. It suggests that skipping breakfast makes you feel less energetic, which causes you to reduce your physical activity levels.
Does skipping breakfast make you gain weight?
Skipping breakfast is linked with greater weight over time. But this doesn’t simply mean that skipping breakfast causes weight gain.
There have been several trials but none have found evidence to suggest skipping breakfast causes weight gain. Neither is there evidence to say it helps weight reduction!
This correlation could be circumstantial, for example eating breakfast is a marker of a generally healthy lifestyle.
Not just weight
Breakfast can mean many different things to different people and cultures, involving anything from sugary cereals to fry ups. What you actually eat at breakfast is obviously very important. For example a bowl of sugary cereal may only keep you going for a short period of time before you get a sugar dip and hunger sets in, whereas a fibre-rich cereal such as oats with added nuts and seeds will keep you going much longer without energy dips.
Eating breakfast is particularly important for people with type 2 diabetes, as it helps the body regulate blood glucose concentrations.
Should you eat breakfast?
Studies have also shown that people who eat a complete, balanced and healthy breakfast each day have greater control over their daily calorie intake. This gets their day off to a great start, preparing them both physically and mentally for the activities ahead.
A survey by the mental health charity MIND found that 55% of people using dietary self-help said ‘eating breakfast’ was beneficial to their mental and emotional health.
So it isn’t just about eating breakfast, it is about eating the right breakfast for you to help you through your day.
To find out more about what nutrition YOUR body needs and the right way forward for you, visit Marko at one of his nutrition workshops. Call Marko on 01507 613 443 or email Marko.Humphrey@mvtlc.org.