We have been told, by parents, diet books and breakfast food manufacturers that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It’s one of the dietary statements that most of us don’t even question. But, as we get older, breakfast can become more and more of a chore. Between getting our families out the door, getting ready for work and the daily commute or morning commitments, it can be hard. Some of us settle for a less-than-healthy breakfast bar, or something small and portable or we spend money in coffee shops and delis to buy breakfast. Some people plain don’t like breakfast or eating early in the day. Sometimes it’s stressful to fit in that “most important meal.” Because of all these factors, the question becomes, is there truth to breakfast being important, or can we relax?
One dietician, Sarah Elder, told the BBC, “The body uses a lot of energy stores for growth and repair through the night. Eating a balanced breakfast helps to up our energy, as well as protein and calcium used throughout the night.” Which makes sense, if you feel hungry.
A study of 50,000 people over seven years saw that people who ate a large breakfast and smaller meals later had, on average, a lower BMI than the people who skipped breakfast. But the study didn’t have evidence that there was a link between the two facts. However, a different study claimed that eating early in the day causes the body’s cortisol to peak early in the day, which might cause a person to become resistant to insulin over time. Still, others say that the spike in cortisol early in the day is just part of a person’s natural biorhythms. Another study argued that eating isn’t essential but rehydrating the moment you are awake is. Allowing hunger to dictate when you “break the fast” might be the most natural thing you can do.
Examine.com compiled the research and found that, as is usually the case, it depended on a person’s health needs. There isn’t any evidence to support the idea that you can “jumpstart your metabolism.” They also couldn’t find evidence that eating breakfast prevented people from overeating later. They did see that people who exercise in the morning should eat 20 grams of protein within two hours after working out to help muscle health. In a different study they examined, skipping breakfast for four weeks caused weight loss but also a minute uptick in cholesterol levels. It did cause people with insulin regulation problems to see more spikes.
In the end, they concluded there are three types of people who should skip breakfast: people who are fasting, people who aren’t hungry in the morning and people who don’t like breakfast. They also created a list of people who should eat breakfast: pregnant women, kids, people with blood sugar concerns, people who are seeking to gain muscle and people who wake up hungry.