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Why Eat Breakfast

Dear Ellen, Everyone seems to say I should eat a healthy breakfast. Why should I eat breakfast and what are the healthiest quick options I should choose?

We have all heard that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. It does make sense and there are many valid arguments that support a healthy breakfast on a regular basis. However, research is incomplete and I would encourage you to be mindful and listen to yourself! How is your health? Weight? Energy? Mood? Sleep?  If it’s not broken, why fix it?! This week we will look at why breakfast is generally found to be so important, and you can decide for yourself! Since what you eat for breakfast matters just as much as whether you eat it, next week we will look at the unanimously recommended One Simple Changes you can make to get the most out of your breakfast…fast! 

Weight: People who eat breakfast tend to take in less calories in a day than their non-breakfast-eating counterparts. Eating a healthy breakfast has been shown to reduce hunger later in the day, which may help with weight loss. Research has shown that people who skip breakfast are 4.5 times more likely to be obese than those who take a morning meal.


Energy: Giving your body a boost of energy to start the day is one of the most convincing reasons to eat breakfast since it is literally breaking the fast from sleeping for 7-8 hours. A healthy breakfast refuels your body and replenishes the glycogen stores that supply the brain and muscles with immediate energy. Researchers found that when people ate a high-fiber, low-carb breakfast, they had more energy throughout the day than those who did not eat or people who ate a high-fat breakfast.


Nutrition: Eating breakfast may help you make healthy choices all day. People who eat breakfast have been shown to eat a healthier overall diet, one that is more nutritious and lower in fat. In contrast, people who skip breakfast are more likely to skip fruits and vegetables the rest of the day, too.


Blood Sugar: Breakfast eaters tend to maintain more stable blood sugar levels and insulin response often leading them to be less hungry throughout the day. The prolonged fasting that occurs when skipping breakfast can cause the body to require more insulin to bring blood sugar levels into a normal range. Instable blood sugar levels can encourage fat storage and weight gain.


Cholesterol: Breakfast-skippers are consistently shown to be more likely to have worse cholesterol levels and insulin sensitivity than breakfast-eaters.


Memory:  A review of 47 breakfast-related studies found that eating breakfast is likely to improve cognitive function related to short term memory.


Heart Disease: Eating breakfast reduces the risk for heart attack, stroke, and heart failure.


Diabetes: Skipping breakfast has been shown to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.


Immunity: People who eat breakfast have been shown to be less likely to catch colds and other respiratory illnesses than those who skip breakfast.


Other various benefits…better general attitude, improved strength and endurance, more energy to exercise, attentiveness, mental performance, problem-solving ability, setting an example….

The potential downside… Some people insist that, if they eat breakfast, it kindles their appetites with food cravings for the rest of the day. With the popularity of Intermittent Fasting, some argue that the longer they go without eating, the better they feel.


I personally believe there are too many mind and body benefits to eating breakfast that are just too good to pass up. However, it is not essential for everyone and if physiologically you don't feel you need breakfast then you shouldn't eat it. Fortunately, nutritionists are generally in agreement, however, on what constitutes a good breakfast for those who choose it! Since what you eat for breakfast matters just as much as whether you eat it, let’s look at the unanimously recommended one simple changes you can make to get the most out of your breakfast…fast!