It’s one of those timeless sayings: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. We’ve all heard it – but what does that actually mean? Where does the emphasis on breakfast come from? And, perhaps most importantly – is breakfast actually the most important meal?
To close out Chewse breakfast week, we thought we’d answer that question once and for all. Turns out, there’s been a lot of research on the subject – here’s what we found.
Why We <3 Breakfast Catering
Before we dive in to specific facts, figures, and sources (oh, the sources you’ll see!), we thought we’d cover a few breakfast basics. Generally, the point of breakfast is to end the overnight fast and put food (aka energy) int our bodies for a new day.
Get it? Break (the) fast? Gotta hand it to clever wordplay.
This emphasis on energy is why breakfast foods tend to be high in carbs and protein. Carbs provide short-term energy (glucose) that your body can break down and use like, right now. Protein, on the other hand, provides longer energy that your body breaks down over the course of the day. Think of your standard eggs-and-toast weekend breakfast of champions. The toast gives you the energy to get started, get to work, and get your brain movin’ – the eggs keep your brain going for the rest of the day!
A note on carbs
They get a bad reputation, and it’s true, too many carbs are pretty bad for you. Many diets shy away from carbs because too much glucose (carb energy) turns into fat. Your body then stores that extra glocose because we were once cavepeople and we never knew when our next meal was going to come. That is (clearly) no longer the case, but our cells haven’t yet caught up.
So, it’s true that you shouldn’t have too many carbs. But your body can process a certain amount of glucose per day, and that glucose will turn into energy (rather than becoming fat storage). That’s why we recommend eating more carbs at the beginning of the day, when you need more energy.
Ok now back to breakfast.
Fact: Breakfast jumpstarts your metabolism
So that’s the first thing we want to cover, really. Eating a healthy breakfast in the morning gets you started. People who skip breakfast are relying on the energy they have leftover from dinner (from over 12 hours before!) to get them started. As a result, some scientists believe your metabolism is slower to get going.
You’re most likely to reap the rewards if you eat breakfast within 2 hours of waking up, so your metabolism can really start movin’ and shakin’ as you get your day going.
Fact: Breakfast keeps your body “on time”
Our body’s natural clock, aka its circadian rhythm, tells us to get up, get ready, and go to bed. For most people (though everyone is a bit different), we’re most tired between 2 and 4 am and 1 to 3 pm. That’s why you’re so tired after lunch! You’re not actually tired because you just ate, like you might have been told, but rather because there’s a lull in your 24-hour circadian rhythm. The same rhythm is what makes you yawn at night and gets you ready for bed.
Your circadian rhythm is built-in, but there are things you can do to keep it on track – just like it’s possible to destabilize it. For example, when you travel, you’re jetlagged because it takes a few days for your internal clock to readjust. Alternatively, eating in the morning reaffirms: “yes, this is the time that I wake up.” The more you stick to this schedule, the better it will be for your health – and you’ll naturally feel more awake as you go.
Fact: Eating breakfast can promote healthy eating in the long term
A popular claim we found was that “breakfast leads to weight loss.” And, while this isn’t necessarily not true, it’s not exactly true either. There are a lot of studies and stories that argue that eating breakfast helps with natural weight loss and decreased BMI (body mass index). At the same time, several other studies say “it’s more complicated than that.” It may be that your habits going in to the study matter more than whether you eat breakfast or not.
Through it all, most people can agree that eating breakfast sets you up to be healthy throughout the day. And it’s not just about getting your internal circadian rhythm started. Regularly eating breakfast is a great way to start your day with a focus on health and mindful eating. When you make a decision that early on (and stick to it), your focus on why you’re eating can lead to a healthier lifestyle.
So we aren’t necessarily saying you’ll lose weight if you eat breakfast, but you are giving yourself a better chance – since you’re eating regularly, eating healthy, and eating mindfully.
Fact: Breakfast can reduce food cravings
Connected to the breakfast = weight loss idea is the idea that eating breakfast can reduce food cravings throughout the day. And this is true… with a catch. Remember that whole “you should eat carbs and protein for breakfast”? Well, eating protein in the morning will keep you full for longer in the day, which can lead to less snacking at 3 pm.
The catch, though, is that you have to eat a healthy, filling meal. As much as we love Frosted Flakes (seriously, love), it isn’t going to keep you full for the day, and you might find yourself snacking even more than you might otherwise!
Yes! Across the board, people seem to agree; breakfast is important, breakfast can be healthy, and breakfast is a great way to start your day. And it isn’t just scientists saying this: 94% of Americans think breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
If you are going to eat breakfast, though, make sure you eat what’s considered a healthy breakfast. Think: carbs to get you started, protein to keep you going, and veggies (because veggies are always a win). A great option? Omelets or scrambled eggs! Power smoothies can also be a great way to go if you don’t have time to sit down but want some of the same benefits.