Eating breakfast gets your metabolism going in the morning. This helps you burn calories throughout the day as you go about your life. You have more energy to work, study, and focus. This is just the beginning of why it may be true that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. As you might expect, there are plenty of studies out there linking eating first thing to positive health outcomes.1 These include improved concentration and memory, lower LDL (the “bad” cholesterol), less risk of heart problems, diabetes, and obesity.
To be clear, it’s tough to tell if eating breakfast is the cause of these benefits or if people that do tend to practice better health. But this much is for sure; failing to eat breakfast can spoil your body’s natural fasting-eating cycle.2 Normally, the first thing in the morning, your blood sugar is low from not eating for the last 8 hours or so. This is what your brain and muscles use for energy, so they simply cannot function as well without it.
When you skip breakfast, you are likely to feel tired because your body isn’t getting what it needs to work at its best. Plus, the chances that you’ll overeat later are higher. Eating in the a.m. also gives you some nutrients, like vitamins and antioxidants, in addition to energy. These help your body utilize the energy you need to function properly.
Sadly, a lot of people ignore breakfast regularly because life is busy. They’re on their way out the door and they only have time to grab their coffee.
The connection between breakfast and weight
Ironically, breakfast skippers are more likely to be overweight, according to most studies.3 While this may seem counterintuitive, consider that eating foods high in fiber and protein can help you mitigate your appetite throughout the day. If you’re a skipper, you are likely to be starving by lunch and simply overdo it. Plus, it is far more tempting to snack on junk food, like donuts at work.
Of course, your breakfast habits (or lack thereof) are no guarantee of what your weight will be. Not all studies find a significant difference between eaters and skippers, although most do.4 But that being said, don’t get the idea that missing your morning meal will help you lose weight. In a way, it makes sense. Don’t eat in the morning and you get fewer calories. Yet, it doesn’t work out that way. The fact is, most people that successfully lose weight, eat breakfast daily.5
The other side of the coin includes those that eat breakfast, but pig out. Again, eating in the morning alone doesn’t guarantee anything. But if you do eat a huge breakfast, that’s not necessarily good either. Although skipping breakfast might cause you to eat more during the day, eating a huge one may do the same thing, especially if it includes junk like syrupy pancakes and sugary cereal.6
Skipping breakfast may mean poor health for your kids
Many times, kids don’t feel like eating breakfast but doing so is especially important for them. Remember, their bodies are not just maintaining like ours, they are growing as well. The fact is, when kids skip breakfast, they struggle to focus and feel more tired. On top of that, they are more likely to be irritable and fidgety. Their schoolwork is also likely to suffer. For example, in one study, kids did better on test when they had eaten breakfast. 7
Their little bodies usually need more nutrition than just lunch and dinner will provide. That’s probably why they are more likely to eat junk food and be overweight when they don’t eat in the morning, or even when they only sometimes do.
The healthiest people eat breakfast
Breakfast is actually important, after all. You certainly don’t want to skip it, but you don’t want to overdo it either. The important part is that you have something. If you don’t, expect to be less healthy and more overweight. That’s goes for kids and adults. Nevertheless, choose something healthy. Eating a donut or drinking a coffee filled with sugar doesn’t count. Eating a quality meal in the morning is as important as eating it in the first place.