What is the Role of Breakfast?
For many thousands of years, people rarely, if ever, ate soon after they woke up in the morning. In fact, the concept of breakfast only became a custom during the industrial revolution. That was when people ate, in the morning, before leaving home for a full day’s work.
Because mankind has done without breakfast for thousands of years, you don’t have to have breakfast. Furthermore, research shows that it’s not necessary to have breakfast for you to have a healthy weight. Consequently, whether breakfast helps you lose weight or not, are up to the individual. For some, eating breakfast means they eat more of their daily calorie intake in the morning. But, eating breakfast doesn’t guarantee they’ll eat less the rest of the day. Indeed they may eat far more calories than they may have budgeted for in the remaining meals of the day.
While those who skip breakfast, don’t necessarily eat fewer calories either. On the contrary, they could eat more calories during the day to exceed what they would have eaten had they had a breakfast. Moreover, studies report that skipping breakfast doesn’t affect the total number of calories burned in a day.
Above all, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends you eat four or five small meals a day (including breakfast) to stop feeling hungry. In fact, eating just a modest breakfast means you won’t get hungry later in the morning. On the other hand, skipping breakfast on days when you are working, may tempt you to drop by a fast food place or walk to a vending machine down the hall, and eat foods with lots of sugar, unhealthy fats and calories.
Most of all, when you wake up in the morning, your blood sugar, needed by your brain and muscles, is low. Therefore, you may not have enough energy to do your morning chores. Incidentally a recent study found that the metabolic rates of those who had breakfast and those who didn’t was about the same. Also, another recent study reported that there was no significant difference in weight loss between those who ate breakfast and those who didn’t.
Most of all, a healthy breakfast is a source of vitamins, lean proteins, healthy fats, and fiber from foods like dairy, fruits, and whole grains that help you feel full. Indeed you feel full longer because proteins and fiber take longer to get digested. Furthermore fiber, particularly soluble fiber slows the absorption of sugar and helps improve blood sugar levels so that you won’t get cravings for sugar.
And if you exercise in the morning or early afternoon, breakfast provides the fuel needed to workout hard and burn more calories. On the other hand, exercising without breakfast means that your depleted sugar levels won’t give you the energy needed for a hard workout. Consequently, going through your workouts will be a struggle.
Several studies have reported that skipping breakfast has little effect on your diet. Unfortunately previous studies reporting that eating breakfast was important for successfully losing weight were not scientifically rigorous. Most noteworthy, recently researchers in Australia reviewed 13 different studies that ranged from 24 hour studies to 16 week studies. And they reported that eating or skipping breakfast had little effect on your weight. Paradoxically, researchers report that people who lose weight and keep it off generally ate a healthy breakfast.
Most of all if you eat breakfast to lose weight, then you have to not overeat and eat too any calories in the breakfast. And if you skip breakfast to lose weight, you have to not overeat at lunch and/or dinner. In the end it doesn’t matter if you eat breakfast or not. If you want to maintain or lose weight you have to monitor all your meals throughout the day.
On the other hand, while skipping breakfast won’t affect your ability to lose weight, it’s not helpful for your general health. Regularly skipping breakfast has the following effects on your general health:
- The Journal of Frontiers of Human Neuroscience reported that breakfast restores glycogen and stabilizes insulin levels. When glycose levels are low you become hungrier, irritable and tired.
- Your metabolism levels decrease which causes your body to use glucose stored in the muscles which in turn causes muscles to waste away
- Cortisol stress levels are highest when you wake up. This increases your hunger hormones. Eating breakfast increases blood sugar levels, which, in turn, brings down levels of hunger hormones as well as cortisol levels. On the other hand, delaying or skipping breakfast, keeps or increases your cortisol levels. Regrettably, high cortisol levels make you feel anxious.
Studies show that regularly skipping breakfast effects your general health in the following additional ways:
- Increases in diastolic and systolic blood pressure, blood concentrations of insulin, triglycerides, free fatty acids and LDL-cholesterol
- Decreases in blood concentrations of HDL-cholesterol
- Increased risk of atherosclerosis, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol. In fact, a Harvard study, spanning 16 years, of 27,000 men between the ages of 45 to 82 years, found that men who skipped breakfast were 27 percent more likely to experience heart failures or have a coronary heart disease as the cause of their death.
In conclusion, eating modest breakfast is good for you because:
- Of the health benefits
- Research shows that those who lose weight and keep if off eat healthy breakfast
- The healthy breakfast gives you energy to start your day and helps you get through to lunch