The importance of the day’s ‘most important meal’

We’ve all heard that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” But what exactly does that mean? How does breakfast improve one’s daily life? Breakfast not only  gives you the energy you need throughout the day, but can also help with weight management and improve overall health.

Many people, myself included, often make the excuse that they do not eat breakfast because they are not hungry when they first wake up. If you are trying to be conscious of maintaining your weight, should the first rule not be to eat only when you’re hungry? Not necessarily, since several studies have found that breakfast-eaters generally weigh less than those who skip breakfast.

One theory suggests breakfast lowers hunger for the rest of the day, thereby helping breakfast-eaters to eat less during other meals. Those who skip breakfast are much more likely to eat excessive amounts of food during lunch or supper. Moreover, if you are overly hungry later in the day, you are more likely to opt for quick-fix high-calorie junk food rather than a nutritious meal.

Another theory suggests that eating breakfast restarts your metabolism after fasting all night, thereby allowing you to burn more calories while conducting normal daily activities. Specifically, it has been suggested by the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center that eating breakfast can cause a 10 per cent increase in resting metabolism.

The best way to accomplish these healthy dietary goals is to opt for a nutritious breakfast high in fibre or lean protein. Eating high-protein meals is one of the best ways to satisfy hunger and leave you feeling full for a while after. One weight-loss study which compared overweight women who ate equal-calorie meals of either a bagel or eggs for breakfast for five weeks found that those who ate eggs lost 65 per cent more weight than those who ate bagels. The women who ate eggs also reported higher energy levels than those who had bagels, demonstrating the importance of protein in providing sustenance throughout the day.

Finally, several studies also suggest that breakfast improves performance in daily activities. Thought processing, reasoning and concentration were shown to improve after eating breakfast, leading to increased performance at work or school. Those who skip breakfast often report feeling sluggish and less attentive, thereby inhibiting work efficiency or information retention. Breakfast can even help performance in physical activities like sports and improve general alertness in the morning.

Thus, it is intellectually, physically and academically important to fit some kind of breakfast into your early morning routine. Opt for lean protein meals such as eggs, an omelet, a yogurt smoothie, whole grain breakfast cereal or oatmeal, each of which will leave you feeling full and energized. Your body will certainly thank you later in the day!

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