Importance of breakfast

Start your day off right by having a nutritious, filling breakfast.

​Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day for several reasons. It is believed that it "kick-starts" your metabolism, helping you burn calories throughout the day. Unfortunately, it goes much deeper than is commonly understood.

To begin this debate, we first need to work out what we class as breakfast and our morning. Moreover, to include individuals with an irregular sleeping pattern, e.g. night workers. According to studies, if we were to follow the belief that we should eat because of the timing of the day rather than our habits, we might not fully utilise this kick-start metabolism idea.

In an ideal situation, our cortisol levels should peak when we wake up, starting the release of glucose into our body which provides us with the necessary energy to go about our morning routine. Then we consume something and this is the crucial part because it depends on many variables such as underlying health conditions like diabetes mellitus.

Following the guidance of the Eatwell Guide, our breakfasts should consist of a mixture of protein, carbohydrate source and fruit/vegetables. Additionally, a high-fibre, carbohydrate-rich breakfast can help keep children feel fuller for longer.

Skipping breakfast or pushing it later into the day, maybe closer to another mealtime, can throw your body's natural rhythm out of sync, causing hormone disruptions, and changes in insulin levels or/and leptin, to name a few. Among other things, your body trying to create to produce energy can contribute to your craving for high calorific foods that are typically high in sugar, which can be seen as a reaction to the lack of energy at the start of the day. Which makes sense if you think about it…

There is more depth here, but this is just a vague outline. Furthermore, studies suggest that eating breakfast can impact your weight compared to skipping it, which might sound conversational at first. However, walk with me on this. If our bodies are starved from energy, they will create their own via depleting fat cells and breaking down muscle tissue when we consume our next meal. Our bodies will try to replenish those stores while still keeping our bodies running, resulting in a minimal fat loss or even a weight gain. Or we can avoid this by simply eating something for breakfast and letting our bodies perform more optimally.

Benefits

As mentioned above, the benefits far outweigh the cons. But here is a summary of them:

  • An increase in energy in the morning
  • Reducing brain fog
  • Improve heart health
  • Lower the risk of Diabetes Mellitus type 2
  • Creates an opportunity to include more vitamins, minerals and nutrients in your diet
  • Can help control weight
  • Improves your overall mood (not becoming hangry).

Now you are probably thinking, after hearing the benefits of eating breakfast, what classes as breakfast? This is an exciting debate, and eating a doughnut on the way to work is not the best way to go about it. More specifically, it affects the glycaemic index (GI) for several reasons. There is a theory that food classified as high in the GI will cause a higher response from insulin, thus causing increased hunger and lower satiety. Studies are still working on the relationship between GI and two appetite/satiety control hormones, leptin and ghrelin. This theory is especially important for people who have diabetes. It is highly recommended you investigate it further when exploring this under the supervision of a dietitian.

Breakfast should provide you with enough energy to see you through the morning. Unfortunately, life doesn't work out like that all the time, so you may need to rush out the door for various reasons. So here are a few examples of quick meals that you can take.

These examples are based on the average person, with no special requirements:

  • Overnight oats
  • Smoothie – keep in mind high sugary fruits that will make you crash sooner
  • Toast with scrambled eggs (wholegrain ideally).

There are a couple of techniques you could implement here. Firstly, getting everything ready the night before, having the bowl out with the spoon as an example. If that seems like too much work, you could even prepare something easy to take out of the door and have it on the move. Really the key message here is preparation is vital.

Supporting the breakfast routine

Sometimes an afterthought, or perhaps a habit. Brushing your teeth has been widely recognised to be a benefit to you. In terms of breakfast, there has been a debate/confusion about when you should do it.

Studies lean towards brushing your teeth before breakfast to remove any plaque build-up, which minimises the acidogenic response from the oral bacteria in the presence of food. In an ideal situation, you should aim to brush for two minutes and not eat anything or drink anything for 30 minutes afterwards to balance the PH levels.

Similarly, the rule applies to after you have just eaten. Your saliva has a higher acid content, so brushing your teeth right after food will encourage the higher acid content to be rubbed deeper into the enamel of your teeth.