Why breakfast is the most important meal of the day
Breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day. Why? Because it “breaks the fast” from the previous night’s slumber and supplies the body with an initial burst of fuel. Research shows that eating more earlier in the day may help you eat less later in the day, increase healthy eating habits throughout the day, make your overall metabolism more efficient, and reduce the risk of weight gain.
Two of the most common barriers to eating breakfast are not feeling hungry or not having enough time to eat:
- If you don’t feel hungry in the morning, it’s typically because we’ve trained our bodies to ignore the sensations of hunger. Signs of hunger aren’t limited to a rumbling stomach—they also include fatigue, headache, dizziness, irritability, nausea and inability to concentrate. If you’re in the habit of skipping breakfast because you’re not hungry, try to retrain your body to want food in the morning by consistently eating something within an hour of waking up.
- If you’re skipping breakfast because you don’t have enough time to eat, try redefining what breakfast looks like. Start the day with something small that’s easy to digest, such as fruit, oatmeal, yogurt or hard-boiled eggs. Allow your body to become accustomed to a little energy first thing in the morning, and then eat a more substantial and balanced meal or snack a few hours later.
Once you’re in the habit of eating something within an hour of waking up, you can take a closer look at what you’re eating. Focus on slow burning foods (e.g., whole grains, eggs, fruit, dairy) that will give you long-lasting energy and aid in controlling your appetite. And aim to limit foods that are heavy in refined sugars (e.g., pastries, doughnuts), as they are often high in calories, don’t contain many essential nutrients and may leave you feeling drained.
Trish Kellogg, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN, is a board-certified sports dietitian.